By Moulana Fadlur Rahman Sahib Sheikhul Hadith, Madrasah Arabia Islamia, Azaadville
Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “On the first night of Ramadân, the Shayateen (devils) and the rebellious jinnat are imprisoned. All the doors of Jahannam (hell) are closed and all the doors of Jannah are opened. A caller calls out, “O seeker of good, advance and O seeker of evil, refrain (from evil). Many people are emancipated from Jahannam by Allah Ta’ala and this takes place every night.” (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
It is sunnah to partake of Sehri. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said: “Eat sehri, as in it lies great blessings.” (Sahih Bukhari) The difference in our fasting and that of the Ahlul Kitab (Jews and Christians) lies in the partaking of food at the time of sehri.(Sahih Muslim) This sunnah may also be achieved by merely eating one or two morsels or having something to drink. The sunnah time for sehri is the last portion of the night, whereas to hasten with iftâr is sunnah. When a person clearly comes to know of the setting of the sun, he should commence with his iftâr. He should not delay. It is preferable to break one’s fast with dates, otherwise with water as this is also a cleanser. The dua at the time of iftâr is:
“O Allah, for You have I fasted and upon Your sustenance I break my fast.” (Sunan Abi Dawood)
To make an intention is a pre-requisite for fasting. To make this intention from the night is preferable. However, the fast of Ramadân will be valid even if a person made his intention before the passing of half the day.
Abstaining from Sin
Whilst fasting, special importance should be given to abstain from sin. It is stated in a hadith that “the person who does not abstain from evil acts and speaking lies, Allah is not in need of his fast. (Sahih Bukhari)
Backbiting, slandering, arguments, not guarding one’s eyes from looking at evil, bad thoughts, shaving or trimming of the beard and allowing one’s trouser or garments to cover the ankles. One should abstain from all these types of sins especially in the month of Ramadân. If a person gives due importance to refrain from these sins in the month of Ramadân, then it is hoped that it will become easy for him to refrain from them throughout the year. The objective of fasting is to inculcate the quality of taqwa (piety) as Allah mentions in the Quran: “So that you attain piety.” A person refrains from eating and drinking for the sake of Allah for a stipulated time, but how foolish will it not be to refrain from those things which are always harâm (forbidden).
The tarâwîh salâh of twenty raka’ât is sunnat-e-muakkadah for both males and females. For men to perform it in the masjid with jamâ’ah is Sunnah-alal-kifâyah. This means that it is sunnah for some people to perform the salâh with jamâ’ah (congregation) in the masjid. Thus if some others perform their Esha salâh with jamâ’ah in the masjid and perform their tarâwîh salâh at home with jamâ’ah or individually, it is permissible.
To remain in itikâf for the last ten days of Ramadân is Sunnah-alal-kifâyah. If even one person from the locality performs itikâf, this sunnah is fulfilled. A very easy and practical way of finding Laylatul Qadr is to sit for itikâf. If a person only performs itikâf during the nights of the last ten days, then also he will acquire this virtue. If this is also not possible, then at least the odd nights should be given importance. This is also a great fortune. A person sleeping whilst in itikâf will be regarded as if he is performing ibâdat (worship). A person may engage in permissible speech whilst in itikâf. However he should refrain from obscene and vain talk.
There is great reward for the performance of tahajjud salâh (nightly vigil). It is the practise of the pious. By virtue of it, sins are forgiven. To refrain from sins also becomes easy. The reward of Tahajjud will be achieved by performing two raka’ât also. A person should perform two to four raka’ât of tahajjud at least when waking up for sehri. The time of tahajjud and sehri remains till subah sâdiq (true-dawn).
Sadaqatul fitr is wajib on every such Muslim who possesses the nisâb of zakât before the subah sâdiq (true-dawn) of the day of Eid. Whether he had this amount of money for a complete year or not. In fact, if a person possesses more than his basic household needs and its value is equal to the nisâb of zakâh, then upon him also sadaqatul fitr is wajib, while zakât is not wâjib on him. (Marâqiul falâh) A person has to give sadaqatul fitr for himself and on behalf of his immature children (those that have not yet reached the age of puberty). If the children do have the amount of money, then the father will pay it from their money. The wife and bâligh children will give sadaqatul fitr from their own wealth if they posses that amount. It is not wâjib (compulsory) on the husband and father to give on their behalf. However, if a person pays on behalf of his wife or bâligh children after informing them, then it will be regarded as fulfilled. If the wife and bâligh children do not posses that amount, then sadaqatul fitr is not wajib on them nor on their guardians. (Shâmi/Hidâyah)
Amount of Sadaqatul fitr
In accordance to sound and authentic ahâdith, if a person gives wheat for sadaqatul fitr, then half a sâ’ is sufficient. This is ascertained from both Tahawi and Tirmidi Shareef (compilations of hadith) and this is the view of the majority of the Hanafi scholars. Half a sâ’ in today’s time is equivalent to a maximum of 1.7kg. Flour to the same amount is also sufficient. If one wishes to give money in place of wheat or flour, then the value of 1.7kg of wheat flour should be given. For example, if one kilogram of flour costs three rands, then the amount will be 1.7 kg x R3.00 which will total to R5.10. Similarly, if the price of flour is less, then it should be multiplied with the respective amount. The price of that flour should be ascertained which a person uses daily. If he happens to use different types or qualities of flour, then he should ascertain the price of the average quality flour.
This ruling and calculation is in conformance to the view of majority of the scholars of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. This is also the view of, interalia, Mufti Muhammed Shafi Sâheb rahmatullah alaih – Grand Mufti of Pakistan and Moulânâ Abrarul Haq Sâheb damat barakatuhum of Hardoi.
The Musallah (Eid Gah)
The performing of the Eid salâh in an open field on the outskirts of the town or city, is Sunnah Muakkadah (greatly stressed upon sunnah). According to the verdict of many senior Muftis, in big cities or towns, the sunnah will (Insha Allah) be fulfilled even by reading in a field or open plain within the city. However, for the benefit of the sick, weak and other “ma’zoor” persons (people with valid Shar’i reasons), arrangements can be made to perform Eid Salâh in the masjid.
Similarly, due to rain also, the Eid Salâh can be read in the masjid. However, to fulfill the Sunnah Muakkadah act of performing Eid Salâh at the Musallâ (Eid Gâh) in favourable weather, normal and healthy people should give importance to proceeding to the Musallâ (Eid Gâh). The habit of performing the Eid Salâh in the Masjid is not a good habit. Despite the great virtue of the blessed Masjid of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam – Masjid-un-Nabawi – Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and the Khulafa – Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali Radiallahu anhum left this masjid on the occasion of Eid and always proceeded to the Musallâ (Eid Gâh) for the Eid salâh. For more details on this subject refer to the book, “The Sunnah of the Musallâ” by Hazrat Moulânâ Fazlur Rahman Saheb.
Women Proceeding for Eid Salaah
For women to proceed to the Musallâ (Eid Gâh) nowadays is forbidden according to the majority of the Fuqahâ (jurists), as there is a great danger of fitnah (vice). Imam Tahâwi rahmatullah alaih states that during the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam the women used to go to the Musallâ (Eid Gâh) so that the enemies could be overawed by the large numbers of the Muslims. (Ma’arifus Sunan vol. 4 pg. 445).
Similarly, in that blessed era there was safety from all evils and vices, unlike today where there is a great danger of all forms of evils and vices. Today, the majority of women do not observe Hijâb (Shar’i concealment) and venture outdoors after adorning themselves. To venture outdoors in this manner is not permissible according to all the authentic scholars of Islam. In the light of the Quran and hadith, it is not permissible to venture outdoors in this manner (i.e. with no hijâb and adorning oneself). Hazrat Aisha radiallahu anha had mentioned during her time: “If Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam had to see the new style of the women of today, he would have prevented them from venturing outdoors as the women of the Bani Israeel were prevented. (Bukhari p.120) Thus the Fuqaha (jurists) have completely prohibited young women. A few jurists had permitted old women. However, due to increase in evil and vice, general prohibition of both young and old women has been declared. (For more details refer to Ma’arifus Sunan vol. 4 pg’s 445-448)