By Editorial Staff
Definition of Tawbah
Tawbah (repentance) is an Arabic word which means in language to return. In the technical usage of the term, it means to return from disobedience of Allah’s commands to His obedience.
The greatest and most important kind of repentance is to desist from disbelief and revert to belief in Islam. Allah says,
“Say to those who disbelieve that if they desist (from unbelief) what (they have done) in the past shall be forgiven them.” (Quran 8:38)
Then, repenting of major sins comes second in importance. Next is the third kind which is to repent of minor sins.
“But turn all together to God in repentance, O you believers, so that you may be successful.”
The legal ruling concerning tawbah
It’s obligatory to repent of all sins. There are many proofs from the Quran, the Sunnah and also the Consensus that indicate the obligation of tawbah (repentance). Allah says,
“Moreover, you shall (all) seek forgiveness from your Lord. Then repent to Him.” (Quran 11:3)
“But turn all together to God in repentance, O you believers, so that you may be successful.” Quran 24:31)
“O you who believe! Repent to God with a most sincere repentance.” (Quran 66:8)
Al-Agharr al-Muzani who was from amongst the Companions of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) reported that Ibn ‘Umar stated to him that Allah’s Messenger (may peace ‘be upon him) said:
O people, seek repentance from Allah. Verily, I seek repentance from Him a hundred times a day. (Muslim)
The stipulations concerning sincere repentance
The number of stipulations differs according to the kind of sin. If the sin committed is between the person and Allah, there will be three stipulations (2, 3 and 4 mentioned below). On the other hand, if the sin committed is related to other people’s rights, there will be four stipulations( 2, 3, 4 and 5 mentioned below). There are other scholars who mention more stipulations than these three or four. These are stipulations 1 and 6 mentioned below. However, the three or four are the most famous among scholars. Now, let us consider these stipulations!
1. Sincerity to Allah
Some scholars add this stipulation to the most famous ones discussed below while others think that it is implied in other stipulations.
Observing this stipulation here means the penitent person must intend to seek the Face of Allah. Moreover, he or she hopes that Allah will accept his or her repentance and forgive whatever acts of disobedience he or she has committed. If one’s intention is to make a show to deceive people, such repentance is invalid.
2. Feeling deep regret and sorrow for having committed acts of disobedience
Compunction is the feeling that shows the person’s repentance is truthful. The person who does not feel regret about the past sins he or she has committed but brags about committing them, his or her repentance will definitely not be accepted.
3. Giving up the sin
Sins include not fulfilling duties or obligatory acts of worship and/ or committing prohibited acts of disobedience. For instance, if a person does not perform obligatory prayer or does not give zakat (almsgiving), he or she must fulfill these pillars so that his or her repentance can be valid and accepted. On the other hand, if a person drinks alcohol or deals in usury, he or she must give up these sins immediately.
4. Firmly resolving not to commit such sins again
If a person repents with the intention to commit the same sin again when he or she has the chance, such repentance will not be accepted as the person is not truthful or sincere in his or her repentance.
However, if the penitent person duly fulfills this stipulation with a sincere intention and resolve not to commit such sins again but was later on overcome by his or her weaknesses, his or her repentance will still be sincere and valid. Such person should not despair or give up repenting to Allah because that’s exactly what the Satan wants. The Muslim person should always renew repentance every time he or she indulges in acts of disobedience. It doesn’t matter how many times a person is overcome by his or her weaknesses so long as he or she is truthful and sincere in repentance.
5. To give people their rights back
If the sin has to do with people’s rights, then this extra condition must be fulfilled. This stipulation includes preserving the right of other people whether they are Muslims or not. Repentance will not be valid so long as this stipulation is not fulfilled. Among the most important human rights is to protect people’s lives, honor or reputation and property.
a. Acts of disobedience related to people’s lives
These include homicide, which is one of the gravest and extremely major sins, suicide, acts of aggression, beating or any kind of harm directed towards others. To repent of such crimes or sins, the person must seek the offended people’s pardon. The offended person may choose to get retribution, accept blood money or to pardon. Allah says,
“For the recompense of a misdeed shall be a misdeed like it. Yet one who (instead) pardons (an offender) and sets things aright, his reward shall be with God. (For), indeed, He does not love the wrongdoers.” (Quran 42:40)
b. Acts of disobedience related to honor or reputation
These include backbiting, slander, libel and any action that involves defamation or using swear words.
In any of these cases or similar ones, the offender must seek the offended people’s pardon so that his or her repentance can be accepted.
c. Acts of disobedience related to other people’s property
These include stealing, usury, bribes, deception and any misappropriation of people’s wealth by using wrongful means.
For the repentance to be accepted, one must return other people’s properties to them. If the rightful owner of the stolen property has died, the perpetrator of such crime must return it to the heirs. If there are not any heirs, the perpetrator must give this money to charity.
6. Repentance must take place in a time when it can be valid
Any person can always repent to Allah at any time except in two cases:
a. At the time of death, repentance becomes invalid.
An example of this is the repentance of the pharaoh of Egypt who showed repentance while drowning in the middle of the sea. In general, the repentance of a person who has become certain of his or her near death is out of place. Allah says,
Yet there is (acceptance of) repentance with God only for those who do evil out of ignorance then repent soon after. It is to such as these whom God will grant repentance. And ever is God all-knowing, all-wise. But there is no repentance for those who (continue to) do (great) sins until, when death approaches one of them, he says: I do, indeed, repent now! Nor (is there repentance) for those who die while they are disbelievers. For such as these, We have made ready a most painful torment. (Quran 4:17-18)
b. When the sun rises from the west, Allah will no longer accept repentance.
“On a Day when some (of the awesome) signs of your Lord shall come (at the end of time, sudden) belief will not benefit a soul that has not believed before, nor (a soul that has not) earned any good from its belief Say (to them): Wait! Indeed, we too are waiting.” (Quran 6:158)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The Hour will not be established until the sun rises from the West: and when the people see it, then whoever will be living on the surface of the earth will have faith, and that is (the time) when
No good will it do to a soul to believe then, if it believed not before.” (Quran 6:158) (Al-Bukhari)
So, repentance must take place in a time when it can be valid and accepted so that the penitent can benefit from it.
By Editorial Staff
For actions to be accepted and rewarded by Allah there are two crucial prerequisites:
(1) Sincerity or having a valid intention
(2) Performing the action properly, namely, performing it according to the way the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did it.
This article will mainly discuss the first prerequisite.
It is obligatory for every Muslim before observing an act of worship to make sure that the intention is purely sincere for the sake of Allah.
It is obligatory for every Muslim before observing an act of worship to make sure that the intention is purely sincere for the sake of Allah. Sincerity is the criterion that is used here to evaluate and judge one’s internal actions i.e. actions of the heart. Allah says,
“Though they were not commanded but to worship (One) God making the (practice of their) religion (pure and) sincere to Him (alone), being ever upright (of heart)” (Quran 98:5)
The difference between the two prerequisites:
The place of the intention is the heart, so it is only Allah Who knows what is in the hearts. Moreover, no one can tell whether an action is valid or invalid provided that the other external prerequisites are met. It is the external elements of an action that allow a certain person to judge a certain act. So, Scholars can judge people’s actions according to only prerequisite two mentioned above. The person may perform a deed that is apparently good or valid, but in reality it misses the good intention. That’s why it is not acceptable.
In the Hereafter, Allah will reward or punish people according to what they harbor in their hearts. Allah says,
“on a Day (Hereafter) when (all man’s) inner secrets shall be examined!” (Quran 86:9)
“Does he not, then, know that when all that is in the graves is unearthed, and all that is (harbored) within the breast (of people) is collected” (Quran 100:9-10)
The greatest hadith related to intention or sincerity:
Indeed, it is not appropriate to write about sincerity or intention without referring to the following hadith:
It is narrated on the authority of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say:
“Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
This is one of the greatest hadiths to the extent that some scholars consider it to be one third of the knowledge of Islam. One explanation for this is that people use three things to perform an act of worship: the heart, the tongue and the limbs. In addition, this hadith is related to all the rulings of Islam and fiqh (jurisprudence) and the principles of the Sunnah. “If anyone wants to write a book (related to hadith or Islamic sciences), he or she should start with the hadith that is related to intentions”, the great scholar of hadith, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi said. This highlights the importance of this hadith as all acts of worship require a good intention.
As for the meaning of this vital principle (“Actions are judged by intentions”), it is as follows. Whether an action is accepted, valid and rewarded or not depends on the validity of the intention. Another meaning is that it is the intention that drives a person to perform a certain act. However, the first meaning is the preferred one.
How to observe the niyyah (intention):
1. To intend to do a certain act of worship
The meaning of “intention” here requires a person to specify whether a certain act is compulsory or recommended or for example to specify whether one is going to perform the Dhuhr (the noon prayer) or ‘Asr (the afternoon prayer). This sometimes helps to differentiate between acts of worship and habits. Thus, anyone wants to take a bath, he or she has to specify whether this is a ritual bath for removing major ritual impurity or a usual bath taken for just personal hygiene. This is the most common meaning used among jurists.
2. To intend to do a certain act for the sake of Allah
Here one must specify whether he or she is going to perform a certain act of worship for the sake of Allah or not. This is the most common meaning used by early scholars. Allah says,
“Among you being those who desire this world, and among you being those who desire the Hereafter.” (Quran 3: 152)
3. To intend to do a certain act out of obedience to Allah
It is absolutely perfect if one observes those three elements of intention before all acts of worship.
Areas where the above mentioned hadith can be applied:
It is known that intention is compulsory before performing an act of worship. Permissible deeds can be included in the application of that hadith. If one for example eats with the intention of having more energy or being more active to observe the rites of worship, he or she will be rewarded for that. Allah says,
“Say (to them): Indeed, my Prayer and my rites (of worship) and my life and my death are for God (alone), Lord of (All) the Worlds. No partner is there for Him. And to this I have been commanded. Moreover, I am the foremost of those who are Muslims, in willing submission to God (alone).” (Quran 6:162-163)
Actions of hearts are another area where intention can be observed. For instance, being patient should be solely for the sake of Allah. Allah says,
“These (are the ones who) endure (distress and duties) with patience, seeking (only) the Face of their Lord.” (Quran 13:22)
Upright testimonies also should be administered for the sake of Allah. In addition, giving to charity, spending on one’s family, loving, hating, giving, withholding, etc. should be for the sake of Allah.
Is it correct to utter the niyyah (intention) verbally?
The preferred opinion is that it is not obligatory to utter the niyyah verbally as there is no proof from the Quran or the Sunnah that denotes that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to do this.
Ramadan is the best of all the months because of the many blessings, favours, mercies, forgiveness and protection from the Hell-fire bestowed upon worshippers during it. One of the best favours ever bestowed upon people is, however, the revelation of the Gracious Quran.
It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down
The best book, the Gracious Quran, was revealed to the best of all messengers, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) through the best of all angels, Gabriel (peace be upon him) in the best of all the months, Ramadan. Hence, Prophet Muhammad’s Ummah (Community) is the best of all people. Allah says,
“You (believers) are the best Community ever brought forth for (the good of) humankind: You enjoin what is right. And you forbid what is wrong. And you believe in God.” (Quran 3:110)
Having known that Ramadan is the best of all months, you should know that the last ten days and nights of it are the best of these days and nights of the month. On the other hand, there are the first ten days of the last month in the lunar calendar, the month of Dhul-hijjah. The virtues of these days are very well-known in the Gracious Quran and The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Which is better, the last ten days of Ramadan or the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah?
In reply to this question, Shaikh al-Islam, Ibn Taimiyah said,
“The daylight time is better in the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah than the last ten days of Ramadan. However, the nights are better in the last ten days of Ramadan than those of Dhul-hijjah.”
The nights are better in the last ten days of Ramadan because there is Lailat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree). On the other hand, the daylight is better in the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah because of the 9th day, the Day of Arafat, and the 10th day, Eid Al-Ad-ha. On these two days, Muslims perform most rites of Hajj (Pilgrimage).
The last ten nights of Ramadan
It is highly recommended that people spare no effort in worship during these nights so that they can be among those who worship Allah at the Lailat al-Qadr. The worship of Allah during this night is better than the worship during a thousand months without that night. Also, it is a sunnah of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to increase worship during those nights.
‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to strive more in worship during Ramadan than he strove in any other time of the year; and he would devote himself more (in the worship of Allah) in the last ten nights of Ramadan than he strove in earlier part of the month. (Muslim)
It is also recommended that family members encourage each other to spend most of the night worshipping Allah.
‘A’isha (RAA) narrated, ‘With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. keep away from his wives) and used to stay up praying all night, and he would also wake his wives (to pray and recite Qur’an etc..).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Lailat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree)
Lailat al-Qadr is one of the last ten nights of Ramadan. It’s not known which specific night it is. Allah concealed it to test people so that it can become clear who is keen on seeking its virtues and blessings. To pass the test, Muslims strive to do more acts of worship during these nights. These acts of worship include performing the night prayer, reciting the gracious Quran, making du’a (supplication), etc.
Moreover, Allah concealed it to shower His servants with His Mercy. This means that if people increase their worship during these blessed nights, this will bring them closer to Allah besides the greater reward they shall get. The reward for worship and the virtues of this night is the greatest of all the year. Allah says,
“I swear by the Quran, the clear Book! Indeed, it is We (alone) who have sent it down in a blessed night. For, indeed, it is We (alone) who are giving (humanity) forewarning (of a nearing Judgment). In that (blessed night) every wise affair is determined.” (Quran 44:2-4)
The Quran describes Lailat al-Qadr as a blessed night because of the many virtues and blessings bestowed upon the believers on this night. Moreover, the revelation of the gracious Quran is one of the blessings of this night.
The meanings of “al-Qadr“
First, al-Qadr means decree. So, on Lailat al-Qadr, every wise affair or decree is transferred from the Preserved Tablet of Heaven- the timeless record of all things- to the angelic scribes who write down the decrees of the coming year including life span, provision, and what will happen until the end of the year.
Second, it also means very valuable. Hence, the reward for worship on that night is better and has more value than any other night of the year. It is even much better than the worship during over 83 years.
The reward for performing night prayer on lailat al-Qadr
Muslims spend more time praying on the last ten nights. They perform night prayers after Salat al-‘isha’ (the evening prayer). Because it usually takes a long time, they take a break before they continue to perform Salat Al-Tahjjud (another name for night prayer) usually after midnight.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whosoever performs Qiyam (night prayer) during Lailat al-Qadr (Night of Decree), with Faith and being hopeful of Allah’s reward, will have his former sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“Indeed, (it is) We (who) have sent this (Quran) down (from on high) on the Night of (Empowering) Decree. And do you realize what the Night of (Empowering) Decree is. The Night of (Empowering) Decree is better than a thousand months! Therein do the angels and the Spirit (Gabriel) descend, by the permission of their Lord, with every (divine) commandment. Peace it is till the rise of dawn!” (Quran 97)
This is the 97th chapter of the Gracious Quran which also stresses that the Quran was first revealed on that night. The angels descend on this night with goodness, blessings and mercies. Lailat al-Qadr is a night of peace to the believers as a great number of them are freed from the punishment in the Hell-fire. This continues till dawn.
The best du’a (supplication) made during those nights
Du’a is one of the best acts of worship made especially during those nights. Everyone can make his own du’a or plea. However, the following du’a should be made often:
‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) replied, “You should supplicate:
Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” [Al-Tirmidhi].
Going on a ritual retreat in a mosque (I’tikaf)
I’tikaf is one of the recommended acts of worship observed for the last ten days of Ramadan. People remain in the mosque to worship Allah. They do not go out of the mosque except for necessary needs. It starts when the sun sets on the 20th day of Ramadan till the end of the month.
‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to seclude himself (in the mosque) during the last ten nights of Ramadan. He would say, “Search for Lailat al-Qadr (Night of Decree) in the last ten nights of Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
If a person cannot observe I’tikaf, they should spend as much time as they can in the mosque especially during the night.
Illnesses are temporary or chronic. Temporary illnesses may cause a person to break their fast. In this case, they must make up the missed days after they recuperate. As for chronic illnesses, there will be no chance to make up the missed days. This raises the following questions:
What is the legal ruling regarding an old man or woman who cannot fast or make up the missed days?
What if the person suffers from a chronic disease such as diabetes or kidney failure?
But one among you who is sick or is on a journey shall then fast the same number of other days.
To answer these questions, let us first look at the interpretations of the following ʾaya (verse of the Qurʾan): Allah says:
“It is for a specified number of days. But one among you who is sick or is on a journey shall then fast the same number of other days. Yet for those who are (yuṭīqūnahu) (hardly) able to endure it, and do not fast, the redemption for each day, is feeding an indigent person “instead”.” (Quran 2:184)
Ibn ʿAbbas’s opinion
Ibn ʿAbbās (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) holds the opinion that the word yuṭiqunahu means that if a person finds it very difficult to fast or cannot fast, they should break their fast and feed an indigent person instead.
The majority of the Companions’ Opinion
However, the majority of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with all of them) say that the above mentioned ʾaya is abrogated.
In fact, the obligation of fasting was gradual. At first, it was optional for a person to fast or to feed an indigent person. Then, fasting became obligatory and the option of feeding was abrogated.
Thus, in the majority’s opinion, the word yuṭīqūnahu means if a person who can fast but chooses not to fast, they must feed an indigent person.
In short, Ibn ʿAbbās (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) disagrees with the other Companions (may Allah be pleased with all of them) in the following two points:
1. Ibn ʿAbbās interprets the word (yuṭīqūnahu) ‘those who are able to endure it’ as ‘those who are hardly able to endure it.
2. He uses the verse as a proof while it is abrogated.
The Majority of scholars hold the opinion that the abrogating verse is the following:
“So whoever among you bears witness to the month shall then fast it. Yet if one among you is sick or is on a journey (such a person shall then fast,) the same number of other days.” (Qurʾan 2:185)
Another proof that supports Ibn ʿAbbās’s opinion:
Some scholars also hold the opinion that old age and sickness are legal excuses for breaking one’s fast but the person must feed in indigent person instead.
This is the proof for that:
In a Mu’allaq Hadith (Suspended Hadith) related in Saḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī, Al-Bukhārī said,
“After growing old, Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) (was not able to fast and he) used to feed an indigent person bread and meat every day”
In short, there are two opinions regarding the answer to the two questions mentioned above:
1. Feeding an indigent person is a substitute for fasting in case of long-lasting inability. This opinion is more popular as it is better to avoid disagreement.
2. There is no substitute for fasting in case of inability. Feeding is only recommended if a person wants to emulate Anas (may Allah be pleased with him).
Breast-feeding and pregnant women
If pregnant women and those who breast-feed fear that fasting may cause harm to them or to the fetus or baby, they should break their fast.
What should breast-feeding and pregnant women do if they break their fast?
There are here a number of opinions:
First, Some scholars treat pregnancy as illness. Allah says,
“One’s mother bore one in feebleness upon feebleness” (Qurʾan 31:14)
In this case, they are treated as sick people who break their fast and make up the missed days later.
Second, scholars who adopt the opinion of Ibn ʿAbbās mentioned above say that they should break their fast and feed an indigent person for every day.
Third, other scholars like Ibn Ḥazm al-Ẓahirī say that they should break their fast without making up the missed days later or feeding an indigent person for every day.
Ibn Ḥazm used the following Hadith as a legal proof to support his opinion:
Narrated Anas ibn Malik:
A man from Banū ʿAbdullahh ibn Kaʿb brethren of Banū Qushayr (not Anas ibn Malik, the well-known Companion), said:
A contingent from the cavalry of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) raided us. I reached (for he said went) to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who was taking his meals.
He said: Sit down, and take some from this meal of ours. I said: I am fasting, he said: Sit down, I shall tell you about prayer and fasting.
Allah has remitted half the prayer to a traveller, and fasting to the traveller, the woman who is suckling an infant and the woman who is pregnant, I swear by Allah, he mentioned both (i.e. suckling and pregnant women) or one of them. I was grieved for not taking the food of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
(Related by Al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd and Ibn Mājah)
Other scholars say that this hadith allows the pregnant and breast-feeding women to break their fast. However, it did not disallow them to make up the missed days. Thus, it is a weak opinion.
The preferred opinion is the first one as it is in agreement with the explicit meaning of the verses related to fasting.
The true meaning of worship is achieved through the true submission and obedience to Allah’s commands. This is very obvious here, but how?؟
When it is obligatory to fast, Muslims hasten to obey Allah through observing it. Also, when it is forbidden to fast, they do not. This article highlights those days on which fasting is prohibited.
When it is obligatory to fast, Muslims hasten to obey Allah through observing it. Also, when it is forbidden to fast, they do not.
What are the days on which fasting is prohibited?
1. Eid al-Fitr (festival of fast-breaking)
This festival marks the end of Ramadan and based on proofs from the Sunnah, it lasts only for the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month in the lunar calendar. Traditionally, it can last for up to three days.
2. Eid al-Ad-ha (festival of sacrifice)
This is the Muslims’ second festival that marks the end of the most important pillar of the pilgrimage to Makka (mecca), namely, standing on Arafat. It lasts only for the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month in the lunar calendar. Usually, it can last for up to four days. The three days that follow the first day of the festival will be discussed below.
Scholars unanimously agree on the prohibition of fasting on those two days, that is, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Ad-ha. Moreover, celebrating on these two days is an act of worship as long as acts of disobedience are avoided. This is supported by the proof from the Sunnah:
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (RAA) narrated. ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has prohibited fasting on two days; the Day of Fitr (breaking the fast of Ramadan) and on the Day of sacrifice (‘Eid al-Ad-ha).’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
3. The days of Tashriq
These are the 11th, 12th and 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah. It is also prohibited to fast on these days except for the pilgrim who cannot offer a sacrifice.
‘A’isha and lbn ‘Umar (RAA) narrated, ‘Nobody was allowed to fast on the days of Tashriq except for those, who could not afford the Hadi (sacrifice).’ (Al-Bukhari)
Nubaishah Al-Hudhali (RAA) narrated that The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“The days of Tashriq (the three days following ‘Idul Ad-ha, i.e. 11th , 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah) are days of eating, drinking and remembering (dhikr) of Allah, the Most Great and Glorious.” (Sahih Muslim)
4. The day of doubt
This is the 30th day of Sha’ban, the 8th month in the lunar calendar.
On the 29th night of Sha’ban, it is sometimes impossible or to see the new moon. This makes people doubt the beginning of Ramadan and whether the following day is the 30th of Sha’ban or the first day of Ramadan. That’s why it is called “the day of doubt”.
According to the opinion of the majority of scholars, Muslims are allowed to fast only if the sight of the new moon is proven.
Scholars differ on whether fasting on this day is reprehensible or prohibited. The preferred opinion is that it is prohibited to fast on the day of doubt. This is in agreement with the meaning of the following hadith:
‘Ammar ibn Yasir said: “Whoever fasts on the day concerning which there is doubt has disobeyed Abul-Qasim (Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” Al-Bukhary related this Hadith as Mu’allaq1 (Suspended).
However, fasting on this day is only allowed if it happens to be on the usual days a person usually fasts. For example, the person observing fasting on Mondays and Thursdays is allowed to fast on the day of doubt if it happens to be on Monday or Thursday.
1: Mu’allaq Hadith is a hadith in which one or more narrators is removed from the beginning of the isnad i.e the chain of narration. Scholars consider Mu’allaq hadiths found in Sahih Al-Bukhary to be authentic.
The recommended acts of worship are those acts whose performance is rewarded by Allah. However, there is no punishment if they are not performed.
The recommended acts of fasting:
Although there are many recommended acts concerning fasting, we will discuss here those ones related to fiqh. These are as follows:
1. Hastening to break one’s fast at sunset
It is recommended to break the fast with fresh dates. If there are no fresh dates, then one should break the fast with dried dates
When one feels sure it is sunset and the Maghrib (Sunset Prayer) announces, it is recommended for one to hasten to break the fast in both obligatory and supererogatory fasting.
Sahl bin Sa’d (RAA) narrated That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “People will always be fine (on the right path, or following the Sunnah) as long as they hasten to break their fast.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
2. Starting with fresh dates, dried dates or water
It is recommended to break the fast with fresh dates. If there are no fresh dates, then one should break the fast with dried dates. If there are not any, then one should break his or her fast with water.
After that, one can have the main meal of the day called iftar (the breaking of the fast).
Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to break his fast before praying (the sunset prayer) with some fresh dates; but if there were no fresh dates, he had a few dry dates, and if there were no dry dates, he took some mouthfuls of water. (Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi)
3. Supplicating Allah when one breaks the fast
Supplication (du’aa) to Allah is always recommended. However, there are certain times on which du’aa is far more recommended. One of these times for the fasting person is at sunset. In addition, du’aa at this time is never rejected as long as the etiquette and prerequisites for making du’aa are observed.
Ibn Umar said that the Prophet (ﷺ) said when he broke his fast: Thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills. (Abu Dawud)
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There are three whose supplication is not rejected: The fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed person; Allah raises it up above the clouds and opens the gates of heaven to it. And the Lord says: ‘By My might, I shall surely aid you, even if it should be after a while.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
4. Having Suhur direclty before dawn
In addition to the blessing in it, suhur gives the person observing fasting the energy to better perform the other acts of worship. It is recommended to eat suhur and to finish eating it 10 or 15 minutes before the time of dawn.
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Eat Suhur (predawn meal). Surely, there is a blessing in Suhur.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].