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Sahih Muslim

by Imam Muslim, translation by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui

Volume: The Book of Fasting (Kitab Al-Sawm)

After prayer the second obligatory duty which every Muslim is required toper- form is that of fasting during the month of Ramadan. The word sawm which has been used in the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith for fasting means" to abstain" ; thus a horse that abstains from moving about or from eating the fodder is said to be sa'im. In the technical language sawm signifies fasting or abstaining from food and drink and sexual intercourse from the dim beginning of dawn till sunset.

Fasting as an institution for the purification of the soul is common to all Divine religions. The writer of the article on" Fasting" in the Encyclopadia Britannica states that" it would be difficult to name any religious system of any description in which it is wholly unrecognized." This institution was well established among the Jews and the Christians.

The records of the Hadith bear ample testimony to the fact that fasting was a common religious practice among the pre-Islamic Arabs too, and they used to observe fast on the tenth of Muharram because it was on this very day that Allah saved Moses and his companions from the clutches of the Pharaoh who was drowned in the sea along with his army. The Arabs and other people too were familiar with fasting as an act of penitence or of propitiation or a preparatory rite before some act of sacramental eating or an initiation or a mourning ceremony.

In Islam fasting is primarily an institution for a spiritual discipline and selfcontrol. It is in fact an exercise in religious devotion in the form of cheerful and willing renunciation, for a definite period, of all the appetites of flesh lawful in themselves (the unlawful ones being ruled out of course). The Qur'an says:

0 ye who believe! prescribed unto you is fasting even as it was prescribed unto those before you. that haply you may become God-conscious (ii. 183).

Of all the creation of God only man deviates from His path. We will find that two things are mainly responsible for this: the love for material possessions and the tempta- tions of the flesh. Islam has, through the institutions of Zakat and Sadaqat, purged the hearts of its followers from the love of wealth, and has inculcated in him the habit to part with it readily for the sake of God.

Fasting has been ordained as a religious duty for the Muslims for subduing their lust and keeping their appetites well within reasonable bounds so that man may not become their slave and lose control over himself. The Qur'an clearly states that a man cannot attain salvation unless he learns to restrain his self from low desires." And as for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains himself from low desires, Paradise is surely the abode" (lxxix. 40-41).

The exercise of abstaining from things otherwise lawful in the ordinary course of life, at the behest of Allah, strengthens man's morality and self-control and deepens in him the consciousness of the Lord. This is what distinguishes fasting in Islam from fasting in other religions.

It should also be borne in mind that fasting does not aim at inflicting punishment upon people or sadding upon them unbearable burdens. The underlying idea behind it is to teach moderation and spiritual discipline so that human temptations may not become so wild and uncontrollable as to flout the commands of the Great Master. To be a true servant of Allah, it is essential that man should be able to conform his behaviour to the moral and spiritual discipline embodied in the Shari'ah of Islam. One cannot achieve this end if one finds oneself helpless before untamed and turbulent desires. Fasting is indispensable for this moral and spiritual training.

Another distinguishing feature of Islamic fasting is that it does not train a person for complete renunication but for perfect and cheerful obedience to the Lord All those things from which man is commanded to abstain during fast, e. g. eating, drinking and sexual intercourse, become permissible for him at the end of the fast. This shows that Islam does not look down upon the appetite of flesh as something ignoble and thus fit to be exterminated root and branch from the human soul. According to Islam, there is nothing profane or ignoble in human personality: both soul and body are sacred and worthy of respect. No aspect is to be ignored and no urge is to be completely curbed. What is required is to keep all these urges well within their proper limits so that none of them transgresses natural bounds and becomes the source of trouble.

That fasting is an institution for moral elevation can be judged from the fact that Allah does not impose check only upon eating, drinking and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset, but also exhorts His servants to refrain from other foul acts, for ex- ample, backbiting, indulging in foul speech, telling lies, etc. Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If one does not abandon falsehood and other actions like it, God has no need that one should abandon one's food and drink (Sahih Bukhari).

The social aspect of fasting in Ramadan is that the whole atmosphere is permeated with religious piety and devotion to Allah. There is one extra congregational prayer, Tarawih, during the night, in which the Qur'an is recited and the Muslim is reminded of the fact that it was in the month of Ramadan that the revelation of the Qur'an commenced. The sadaqqt are also given with greater zeal and fervour in this month. Thus the whole Muslim society is inspired by the love of God. Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: When Ramadan begins, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are locked, and the devils are chained (Bukhari and Muslim).

Muhammad Asad, while elucidating the spiritual and moral significance of fast says:" Twofold I learned, is the purpose of this month of fasting. One has to abstain from food and drink in order to feel in one's body what the poor and hungry feel: thus social responsibility is being hammered into human consciousness as a religious postulate. The other purpose of fasting during Ramadan is self-discipline, an aspect of individual morality strongly accentuated in all Islamic teachings (as, for instance, in the total prohibition of all intoxicants, which Islam regards as too easy an avenue of escape from consciousness and responsibility). In these two elements-brotherhood of man and Individual self-discipline -I began to discern nhe outline of Islam's ethical out look" (Road to Mecca, London, 1954, p. 188).

The list of all chapters in this volume are given below.


List of chapters
EXCELLENCE OF THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
FASTING IN RAMADAN SHOULD NECESSARILY BE COMMENCED WITH THE SIGHT OF THE NEW MOON AND FINISHED WITH THE SIGHT OF THE NEWMOON IF THE WEATHER IS CLOUDY AT THE BEGINNING OR AT THE END, THEN COMPLETE THIRTY DAYS
DO NOT FAST FOR A DAY OR TWO DAYS AHEAD OF RAMADAN
THE MONTH MAY CONSIST OF TWENTY-NINE DAYS
THERE IS A SIGHTING OF THE MOON FOR EVERY TOWN; THE SIGHTING AT ONE TOWN CANNOT BE HELD VALID FOR THE OTHER TOWN SITUATED AT A CONSIDERABLE DISTANCE FROM IT
IT IS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THE NEW MOON IS LARGE (ON ACCOUNT OF APPEARING AFTER THIRTY NIGHTS) OR SMALL (ON ACCOUNT OF APPEARING ON THE THIRTIETH NIGHT) ; AND ALLAH DEFERS IT TO MAKE IT SUITABLE FOR SIGHTING AND IF THE SKY IS CLOUDY, THEN THIRTY (FASTS) ARE
THE MONTHS OF 'ID ARE NOT INCOMPLETE
THE TIMING OF FAST BEGINS WITH DAWN
EXCELLENCE OF TAKING MEAL BEFORE DAWN, STRESS ON GIVING IT PREFERENCE AND PREFERENCE FOR DEFERRING IT (AT THE FAG END OF THE NIGHT) AND HASTENING IN BREAKING IT
THE TIME FOR BREAKING THE FAST AND ENDING OF DAY
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO OBSERVE UNINTERRUPTED FASTING
KISSING IS NOT FORBIDDEN WHILE FASTING IF ONE IS NOT URGED BY SEXUAL LUST
THERE IS NO HARM IN OBSERVING FAST IF ONE IS JUNBI EVEN AFTER DAWN
SEXUAL INTERCOURSE IS COMPLETELY FORBIDDEN DURING THE DAY IN THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
PERMISSIBILITY OF OBSERVING THE FAST OR NOT OBSERVING IT IN THE MONTH OF RAMADAN FOR A TRAVELLER
THE REWARD OF ONE WHO DOES NOT OBSERVE FAST BECAUSE OF A RELIGIOUS DUTY
CHOICE FOR OBSERVING FAST AND BREAKING IT ON A JOURNEY
IT IS PREFERABLE FOR THE PILGRIM NOT TO OBSERVE FAST IN 'ARAFAT ON THE DAY OF 'ARAFA
FASTING ON THE DAY OF 'ASHURA (10TH OF MUHARRAM)
ON WHICH DAY THE FAST IS TO BE OBSERVED IN MUHARRAM
HE WHO ATE ON THE DAY OF ASHVRA SHOULD ABSTAIN (FROM EATING) FOR THE REST OF THE DAY (AS A MARK OF RESPECT)
FORBIDDANCE TO OBSERVE FAST ON 'ID-UL-FITR AND 'ID-UL-ADHA
DISAPPROVAL OF FASTING ON FRIDAY ALONE
ABROGATION OF THE WORDS OF ALLAH:" AND AS FOR THOSE WHO CAN FAST (BUT DO NOT) THE EXPIATION IS" BY THE WORDS:" WHOSOEVER WITNESSES IT HE SHALL HAVE TO FAST THE WHOLE MONTH" (ii. 184)
PERMISSIBILIY OF COMPLETING THE (MISSED) FASTS OF RAMADAN BEFORE THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE COMING RAMADAN
COMPLETING OF THE FAST ON BEHALF OF THE DEAD
WHEN AN OBSERVER OF FAST IS INVITED TO A FEAST, OR SOMEONE FIGHTS WITH HIM, HE SHOULD SAY:" I AM FASTING"
EXCELLENCE OF FASTING
PERMISSIBILITY OF MAKING AN INTENTION FOR VOLUNTARY FASTING BEFORE NOON AND PERMISSIBILITY OF BREAKING VOLUNIARY FAST WITHOUT REASON
EATING AND DRINKING (AND SEXUAL INIERCOURSE) IN FORGETFULNESS DOES NOT BREAK THE FAST
THE FAST OBSERVED BY THE APOSTLE OF ALLAH (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM) BESIDES RAMADAN
FORBIDDANCE TO OBSERVE PERPETUAL FAST AND EXCELLENCE OF OBSERVING FAST ON ALTERNATE DAYS
EXCELLENCE OF OBSERVING FAST FOR THREE DAYS DURING EVERY MONTH. AND FASTING ON THE DAY OF 'ARAFA AND 'ASHURA AND MONDAY AND THURSDAY
FASTING IN THE MONTH OF SHA'BAN
EXCELLENCE OF THE FAST OF MUHARRAM
EXCELLENCE OF OBSERVING FAST FOR SIX DAYS IN THE MONTH OF SHAWWAL AFTER RAMADAN
EXCELLENCE OF LAILAT-UL-QADR AND EXHORTATION TO FIND IT
OBSERVING OF I'TIKAF IN THE LAST TEN DAYS OF RAMADAN
WHEN SHOULD A PERSON ENTER THE PLACE OF I'TIKAF AS HE INTENDS TO OBSERVE IT
ONE SHOULD EXERT MORE (IN DEVOTION AND PRAYER) IN THE LAST TEN DAYS OF RAMADAN
FASTING ON THE 10TH OF DHU'L-HIJJA

Islamic Art Oil Paintings

List of Volumes
The Book of Faith (Kitab Al-Iman)
The Book of Purification (Kitab Al-Taharah)
The Book of Menstruation (Kitab Al-Haid)
The Book of Prayers (Kitab Al-Salat)
The Book of Zakat (Kitab Al-Zakat)
The Book of Fasting (Kitab Al-Sawm)
The Book of Pilgrimage (Kitab Al-Hajj)
The Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah)
The Book of Divorce (Kitab Al-Talaq)
The Book of Transactions (Kitab Al-Buyu`)
The Book Pertaining to the Rules of Inheritance (Kitab Al-Farai`d)
The Book of Gifts (Kitab Al-Hibat)
The Book of Bequests (Kitab Al-Wasiyya)
The Book of Vows (Kitab Al-Nadhr)
The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman)
The Book Pertaining to the Oath, for Establishing the Responsibility of Murders, Fighting, Requital and Blood-Wit (Kitab Al-Kitab Al-Qasama wa'l-Muharaba wa'l-Qisas wa'l-Diyat)
The Book Pertaining to Punishments Prescribed by Islam (Kitab Al-Hudud)
The Book Pertaining to Judicial Decisions (Kitab Al-Aqdiyya)
The Book of Jihad and Expedition (Kitab Al-Jihad wa'l-Siyar)
The Book on Government (Kitab Al-Imara)
The Book of Games and the Animals which May be Slaughtered and the Aninals that Are to be Eaten (Kitab-us-Said wa'l-Dhaba'ih wa ma Yu'kalu min Al-Hayawan)
The Book of Sacrifices (Kitab Al-Adahi)
The Book of Drinks (Kitab Al-Ashriba)
The Book Pertaining to Clothes and Decoration (Kitab Al-Libas wa'l-Zinah)
The Book on General Behaviour (Kitab Al-Adab)
The Book on Salutations and Greetings (Kitab As-Salam)
The Book Concerning the Use of Correct Words (Kitab Al-Alfaz min Al-Adab wa Ghairiha)
The Book of Poetry (Kitab Al-Sh`ir)
The Book of Vision (Kitab Al-Ruya)
The Book Pertaining to the Excellent Qualities of the Holy Prophet (may Peace be upon them) and His Companions (Kitab Al-Fada'il)
The Book Pertaining to the Merits of the Companions (Allah Be Pleased With Them) of the Holy Prophet (May Peace Be Upon Him) (Kitab Al-Fada'il Al-Sahabah)
The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship (Kitab Al-Birr was-Salat-I-wa'l-Adab)
The Book of Destiny (Kitab-ul-Qadr)
The Book of Knowledge (Kitab Al-`Ilm)
The Book Pertaining to the Remembrance of Allah, Supplication, Repentance and Seeking Forgiveness (Kitab Al-Dhikr)
The Book of Heart-Melting Traditions (Kitab Al-Riqaq)
The Book Pertaining to Repentance and Exhortation to Repentance (Kitab Al-Tauba)
Pertaining To The Charateristics Of The Hypocrites And Command Concerning Them (Kitab Sifat Al-Munafiqin Wa Ahkamihim)
The Book Giving Description of the Day of Judgement, Paradise and Hell (Kitab Sifat Al-Qiyamah wa'l Janna wa'n-Nar)
The Book Pertaining to Paradise, Its Description, Its Bounties and Its Intimates (Kitab Al-Jannat wa Sifat Na'imiha wa Ahliha)
The Book Pertaining to the Turmoil and Portents of the Last Hour (Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa`ah)
The Book Pertaining to Piety and Softening of Hearts (Kitab Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqa'iq)
The Book of Commentary (Kitab Al-Tafsir)
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