The excellence of the fast of Ramadan, it’s rulings and upon whom it is obligatory

Section One – The excellence of the fast of Ramadan, it’s rulings and upon whom it is obligatory

In this section read about:
1. The ruling and wisdom behind fasting
2. The social benefits of fasting
3. The virtues of feeding the fasting person
4. The ruling concerning neglecting to fast
5. The ruling concerning leaving off fasting due to laziness

1. The ruling and wisdom behind fasting

Question: What is the ruling of and the wisdom behind fasting?
Response: With Allaah lies all success. As for its wisdom, Allaah(subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) mentioned a very incorporating meaning in that regard: {O you who believe fasting has been prescribed for upon you as it was prescribed upon those that came before you that you may attain taqwaa (piety)} [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 183]. It incorporates everything the people have mentioned with regard to its wisdom.
Taqwaa is a comprehensive word for everything that Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) loves and is pleased with from actions which are desirable and from abandoning prohibitions. So fasting is the greatest way to reach this goal which is the goal of the pleasure of the servant in his worldly life and his Hereafter;
The fasting person seeks closeness to Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) by avoiding all desires, giving love of Allaah precedence over the love of his self. For this reason, Allaah specified it out of the other actions by attributing it to Himself, as in the authentic hadeeth;
It is from the principles of taqwaa, as Islaam is not complete without it; o It causes an increase in faith, and attainment of patience and in it is training one’s self upon hardships that bring one close to the Lord of the Heavens;
It is a cause of increase of one’s good deeds, prayer, reciting (the Qur.aan), remembrance (dhikr) and charity that actualizes at-taqwaa;
In it is prevention of the self from Haraam (prohibited) things, of prohibited action and speech which is the pillar of Taqwaa. In the authentic hadeeth: ((Whoever does not abandon false speech and acting upon that, Allaah is in no need of his abandoning his food and drink)). So the servant seeks closeness to Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) through avoiding prohibitions altogether, and they are:
“False speech” – and that is every haraam (prohibited) speech;
“Acting upon that” – and that is every haraam (prohibited) action;
Leaving every haraam thing that obstructs the fast and that is those thing things which break the fast.
So, since in fasting there are advantages, benefits and attainment of all good and reward, that which necessitates its prescription at all times, Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) told that it was prescribed upon us as it was prescribed upon those before us. This is His affair with all His Laws that have universal advantages.
As for its rulings: all the “al ahkaam at takleefiyyah” Islaamic rulings could apply to it in accordance with the differing reasons behind it:
As for the obligatory (waajib & fardh): 1) It includes fasting Ramadan upon every Muslim that is Islamically bound by the `Eed and is able; 2) It also includes the fast that a person vows to do; 3) It includes the fasts of expiation (after having done an act obligating that.)
As for the prohibited fast, it is: 1) Fasting the days of Sharee’ah; 2) Fasting the 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah, except for the person who is doing Hajj at-Tamattu’ or Qiraan but does not have a sacrifice and did not fast before the Day of Sacrifice; 3) Also included in the haraam fast is the fast of menstruating woman and the woman in post-natal bleeding; 4) Also, the ill person that fears death (as a result of fasting); 5) Also, it is obligatory to break the fast upon the one that needs to in order to save a sinless soul from jeopardy – (meaning the baby in the mother’s womb.
The fast which is recommended (sunnah) is the supererogatory fast, the restricted and the unrestricted;
As for the fast that is disliked (makrooh), it is the fast of the ill person who feels hardship in doing that;
The permissible fast (jaa.iz): the fasting of a traveler. It is permissible for him to fast or not particularly if he traveled in a day in which he began fasting before traveling.
Shaykh as-Sa’dee / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Pages 34-36/Fatwa No.8), also (al-Irshaad ilaa Ma’rifatil Ahkaam, Pages 82-84)

2. The social benefits of fasting

Question: Does fasting have any social benefits?
Response: Yes, it has social benefits. From them is the feeling people have that they are one nation eating at one time and fasting at one time. The wealthy one is cognizant of Allaah’s blessings and is sympathetic to the poor. Fasting lessens shaytaan’s treachery to the son of Aadam. In fasting there is piety of Allaah, and piety of Allaah strengthens the bonds between the individuals of the community.

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 37/Fatwa No.10), also (Fiqh al-‘Ibaadaat libni ‘Uthaymeen, Page 170)

3. The virtues of feeding the fasting person

Question: Some people hold banquets and give invitations in Ramadan making it a month of occasions. Others slaughter, and distribute the meat, in charity and make other types of effort with food. What is the ruling regarding this?
Response: Yes, offering food in Ramadan has extra virtue due to the nobility of the time and the need that the fasting people have for food. The Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said: ((Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of his reward (i.e. the one fasting))), so preparing food in this month for the needy is from the best of actions because (the reward for giving) charity in the month of Ramadan is multiplied more than in the other months.

Shaykh Ibn Fowzaan / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 38/Fatwa No.11), also (al- Fataawa libni Fowzaan – Kitaab ad-Da’wah, Volume 1/ Page 153-154)

4. The ruling concerning neglecting to fast

Question: What is the ruling regarding a Muslim who neglected to fast without a permissible excuse for a number of years? He was fulfilling the other obligations upon him. Does he make them up or seek to expiate them? How would he make these months up if he had to?
Response: The ruling regarding a person who neglected to fast in Ramadan whilst he was eligible for that, whether male or female, is that he has disobeyed Allaah and His Messenger and has fallen into a major sin. It is upon him to repent to Allaah due to this, as well as having to make up all that he missed. He must also feed a poor person for each day he missed if he is able to do so. If he is a poor person and cannot feed them, then it is enough for him to make up the days along with repentance. This is because fasting in Ramadan is a great obligation. Allaah ordained it upon the Muslims and the Messenger (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) has mentioned that it is one of the five pillars of Islaam. If he denies the obligation of fasting Ramadan then he is, by that, a disbeliever, belying Allaah and His Messenger. He must be asked to repent from the one in authority through the Islaamic courts. If he does not repent it is obligatory to kill him due to his apostasy, and due to the saying of the Messenger (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) that “…whoever changes his religion (from Islaam) then kill him.” Reported by Bukhaaree. However, if he did not fast due to illness or travel there is no sin upon him. It is obligatory upon him to make up these fasts once he has recovered from his illness or returned from his travel due to Allaah’s saying in the Qur.aan: “and he who was ill or on a journey the prescribed period should be made up by days later”. [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 185].

Shaykh Ibn Baaz / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 50/Fatwa No.17)

5. The ruling concerning leaving off fasting due to laziness

Question: Is a person who leaves off fasting due to laziness and heedlessness like the one that leaves off prayer in the respect that he is a disbeliever (kaafir)?
Response: The one that leaves off fasting out of heedlessness and laziness is not a disbeliever. That is because the basic rule is that a person remains upon his Islaam until sufficient proof shows that he is outside Islaam. There is no proof that the person that leaves off fasting is outside the fold of Islaam if he left it due to laziness and heedlessness. This is not the same as prayer because the texts from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and the sayings of the companions all show that the person that leaves off praying through heedlessness and laziness is a disbeliever (kaafir.). ‘Abdullaah ibn Shaqeeq said: “…the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) didn’t consider as disbelief (kufr) the leaving off of any actions except prayer”. It is obligatory to call this person who is neglecting to fast due to laziness and heedlessness to fast. If he refuses he should be banished until he fasts.

Shaykh Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 51/Fatwa No.18)