God tells us every detail that we need to know for the Ramadan fast in verses 2:183-185 &187. These verses are very straightforward and clear. There is no ambiguity in them. They are critical for us to follow as the fast is decreed for us so that we “may attain salvation” being an opportunity of enhanced remembrance of God during the month.
[2:183] O you who believe, fasting is decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation.
[2:184]… But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.
[2:187] Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. …. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset.
Not only has God given us this great blessing, He is also compassionate in accommodating every kind of situation, just so that His servants can obey His commands and fulfill their obligations.
[2:184] Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.
[2:185] … Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. GOD wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify GOD for guiding you, and to express your appreciation.
Misunderstandings and violations committed during Ramadan
Although the commandment of Ramadan fast is very clear but unfortunately, like with almost everything else in the religion, Muslims nullify their Ramadan fast by following laws made by corrupt, ignorant religious leaders (9:31, 22:8), or other illegal sources including Hadith and Sunnah, a false doctrine full of lies and fairy tales. These man made rules have not only any basis in the Quran, are also difficult to follow and often repel people from embracing Islam (3:99, 6:26, 9:34). Here are some of the typical misunderstandings and violations committed during Ramadan are to consider in light of Quran and also to share with our friends and family as well for verification (17:36) to attain salvation (2:183):
1. Start and end of fasting only after sighting the moon physically
Many people believe that they must start and end the fasting month only after they sight the moon physically, while God tells us that He rendered the sun and the moon as calculation devices (6:96, 10:5, 17:12, 55:5). This idea of waiting to see the moon first is not logical. Muslims use the moon to decide other months and events such as Hajj years ahead without seeing the moon, so how is it justified to enact Ramadan only after seeing the moon. Muslims also use the sun to calculate the Salat prayer and do not need to see the sun physically to check if it is time to pray. So why do they not apply the same law for the moon during Ramadan? At times, due to the rise and set of the new moon near to the rising or setting of the sun, it is almost impossible to see the new moon. Just like it will be too late if you wait to see the sun rise before you decide to do your dawn prayer, it may also be too late if you wait to see the moon before you commence Ramadan fasting. You may be off by a day or two and lose out on a perfect month! If the weather is cloudy and you cannot see them, does it mean the sun and moon are not doing their perfect appearances? Even within sighting of the moon there are rules about how to sight the moon and some countries even send out a plane if they have to. Prophet Muhammad’s generation and those before him did not have aircraft to send into the air. They used the sun and moon to calculate. Nothing has changed, so calculate.
[10:5] He is the One who rendered the sun radiant, and the moon a light, and He designed its phases that you may learn to count the years and to calculate. GOD did not create all this, except for a specific purpose. He explains the revelations for people who know.
[6:96] At the crack of dawn, He causes the morning to emerge. He made the night still, and He rendered the sun and the moon to serve as calculation devices. Such is the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient.
2. Ramadan month must be 30 Days
This is also an incorrect idea without any basis. God says to fast during the month of Ramadan but He does not say to adjust the month to fast 30 days. Depending upon the position of the new moon, different places can have a lunar month of 29 fasts in some years.
3. Menstruating women are prohibited from Ramadan fast
Many Islamic scholars have innovated religious laws prohibiting menstruating women from observing the Contact prayers, fasting, and even touching the Quran. The verse they base this false idea about women not being able to pray or fast during menstruation is mentioned below. They claim that it says that women are unclean during menstruation, and therefore cannot be allowed to pray.
[2:222] They ask you about menstruation: say, “It is harmful; you shall avoid sexual intercourse with the women during menstruation; do not approach them until they are rid of it. Once they are rid of it, you may have intercourse with them in the manner designed by God. God loves the repenters, and He loves those who are clean.”
A careful study of the verse shows that God is teaching us about personal hygiene, and there is no law being dealt with the religious practices of women in the verse. It is also interesting to note that menstruation is a feminine issue but it is the men who ask about menstruation, and the revelation is directed towards the men. Now, what could possibly concern a man regarding a feminine issue, except for his own interest in sexual matters? God answers the men by initially letting them know that having sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman is harmful, and they should not approach them until they get rid of it. The phrase “get rid of it” is “tatahharn” in Arabic which is the same word used in (3:55) when God tells Jesus: “I am terminating your life, raising you to Me, and ridding you of the disbelievers.”
However, if this verse were referring to women’s religious practices during menstruation, God would have directed the verse to the women. As it turns out, neither in this verse, nor in any other verse in the Quran God forbids menstruating women from practicing their religious duties; it only refers to personal hygiene, and the statement of “your women are the bearers of your seed” in the following verse proves this fact. A man and his wife are allowed to have intercourse in the manner designed by God, which is vaginal intercourse as the only way a woman can be “the bearer” of a man’s seed is through the vagina to the uterus:
[2:223] Your women are the bearers of your seed. Thus, you may enjoy this privilege however you like, so long as you maintain righteousness. You shall observe God, and know that you will meet Him. Give good news to the believers.
Hence, nowhere in the Quran does it say that women cannot fast, pray, or worship in any other way during their menstruation. This is an innovation. We have to know that any rule telling us NOT to worship God under this or the other circumstance must be from Satan, not from God.
4. Tarawih and Extra Salat Prayers
The Salat Prayers are required to be done in a mathematically coded specific format which triggers off a mystical harmony in the universe and establishes ‘Direct Contact’ with God. The key is in doing the Salat exactly as decreed by God, 5 times a day, throughout the year, no more and no less. But people end up innovating additional Salat Prayers which have no basis in the Quran. Prayers such as such as ‘Wajib’, ‘Sunnat’, and ‘Nafil’ are all false prayers and destroy the mathematically coded set of prayers decreed by God.
There is even something called a ‘Tarawih’ prayer which makes a special appearance in Ramadan consisting of various ways to go about it depending upon the preference of Hadith by the hundreds of unauthorized sects around the world (6:159, 30:32). Some Tarawih sessions make people stand and sit so much that they end up bored and tired. Most mosques divide the Quran into 30 equal parts and recite a part each night of Ramadan just for the sake of finishing it, even though no one cares to listen or understand (2:171, 7:204). Instead of these false and uncomfortable religious gatherings, people should follow God’s command in Quran to meditate in the night (17:79, 25:64, 26:217-219, 73:2), reflecting upon His name (50:40) and seeking His mercy in Ramadan and throughout the year as well (3:191-192, 20:130, 32:15-16, 40:55).
5. To reflect on the journey of Muhammad on the Night of Destiny
On the Night of Destiny (Laylatul Qadr) during Ramadan in 13 B.H (610 A.D), Muhammad was taken to the highest heaven (2:185, 17:1, 44:1-4, 53:4-18 and 97:1-5) to give him the whole Quran, the statute book for our guidance and clear teachings being the only source of our religious laws (2:185, 97:1). This night has a special significance to make our reflection on the Quran to study and learn God’s teachings and laws to lead a righteous life but many traditional Muslims put their focus on the journey of Muhammad. As consequences, the place of Quran is on the higher shelf being declared it to be difficult to understand, a particular group of people will only understand or teach it (but it has been revealed for all people of the world), just recitation of Quran without understanding is enough to be rewarded, and the man made false doctrine, hadith and sunnah takes over Quran as a valid source of almost all Islamic teachings and laws. Even, the name of sura 17 (Bani Israel – The Children of Israel) is tempered and changed to Al-Isra (The Night Journey) to turn our focus on the journey of Muhammad to the highest heaven, just to idolize him. Thus, we have not only lost the spirit of the Night of Destiny, we have also deserted the Quran (25:30).
6. To call Ramadan a sacred month
Ramadan is a very significant month for Muslims as they fast therein for remembering and appreciating God and also for the Night of Destiny therein, the night which is better than a thousand months. The Night of Destiny is a historical night while God has specified the four sacred months in the lunar calendar but Ramadan is not one of them (9:36). He has also warned us not to alter the regular month with the sacred months, and if anyone does so, he is a disbeliever (9:37). The four sacred months are connected with Hajj wherein fighting is a sacrilege. Now, if we call Ramadan or any other regular months of the Islamic (lunar) calendar to be a sacred month makes us disbelievers. What we are just to follow is the God’s commandment without innovating and adding anything to our religion.
7. Not swallowing saliva; not watching TV
People simply miss the spirit of Islam. God wishes for us convenience not hardship (2:185), but by refusing to understand that God wants to help us slow down, practice self-restraint and upgrade our remembrance of Him, they end up making the religion difficult to enjoy and appreciate. God only orders us not to eat and drink (2:187), and surely He does not want us to suffer while we are it! Just doing something because He said so (whether we need it or not), is Submission to Him (Islam). Saliva is not a food or drink substitute. So avoiding swallowing saliva, a biologically natural product of the mouth, and deliberately making oneself more thirsty or believing it constitutes breaking the fast is a false notion. If the idea is to suffer the hardship of heat and thirst during Ramadan as some people think, why do they sit in the breeze or an air conditioned room which definitely reduces thirst?
Watching TV also does not nullify a fast. If TV is okay to watch in the rest of the year, it is okay to watch during a fast. Like with everything else, believers must only see that nothing in life distracts them from the remembrance of God, be it TV, or business, family or anything (9:124, 24:36-37, 31:33, 35:5, 63:9).
8. Traveling to escape fasting
While continuing to believe themselves to be good Muslims, many of us try and escape fasting by abusing God’s law which allows exemption from fasting if a person needs to travel during Ramadan. But the law clearly talks about substituting other days for the missed ones, so fasting cannot and will not be avoided by sincere Muslims (2:184 -185). People must realize that they cannot fool God. He knows the intentions of anyone who really needs to travel and cannot fast due to travel or illness.
[2:184] Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted……. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.
[2:185] Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed, providing guidance for the people, clear teachings, and the statute book. Those of you who witness this month shall fast therein. Those who are ill or traveling may substitute the same number of other days. God wishes for you convenience, not hardship, that you may fulfill your obligations, and to glorify God for guiding you, and to express your appreciation.
9. Forbidding others from eating
There is no compulsion in religion (2:256). That is why it is not righteous to punish or criticize others who cannot fast, may choose not to fast, or follow another religion which does not specify fasting. When Muslims are fasting, it does not mean they should turn unpleasant and intolerant, and make it difficult for others to lead a normal life, eating and drinking as they wish to. As long as people are not opposing or oppressing us because of our religion (60:8-9), showing kindness and tolerance of people’s choices is actually a better way of inviting people to Islam rather than forcing it upon them.
10. Zakat to be given only during Ramadan
Zakat, the obligatory charity for Muslims is such an important requirement that God says He reserves His mercy for those who give it (7:16). The Quran teaches us that Zakat is given on the day of harvest namely, whenever we ‘harvest’ or earn income (6:141). But the people give their Zakat only once a year in Ramadan which can turn out to be wasteful, besides being economically unsound. Since Zakat can also be given as food, is not uncommon to hear of needy people waste or refuse perishable food because of surplus food receipts. But Zakat given throughout the year brings about constant circulation of wealth and periodic relief to the needy. Imagine what would happen to a poor person who received Zakat just once a year and it was stolen or misplaced. Can the poor person afford to wait for the next Ramadan?
11. Sadaqa al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan
The Sadaqa al-Fitr also known as Zakatul-Fitr is a small amount to be given in charity in the form of food at the end of Ramadanbefore the congregational EidSalat prayer. The Sadaqa al-Fitr is to be paid equally by every Muslim man, woman and child at the end of Ramadan.Each person should give away in charity an amount equivalent to one sa’aof grain. A sa’a is an ancient measure of volume, and various scholars have struggled to interpret this amount in modern measurements. However, the most common understanding is that one sa’a is equivalent to 2.5 kilograms (5 pounds) of wheat. Each individual Muslim is to give away this amount — man or woman, adult or child, sick or healthy, old or young. The senior member of the household is responsible for paying the amount on behalf of the family.
There is clear instruction in the Quran to pay the known portion (2.5%) as Zakat (70:24) immediately upon receiving any income (6:141) and also to give Charity year-round as much as we can from our savings (2:219). The Quran encourages us to give to Charity as much as we are able, so if we want to pay more than 2.5% after fulfilling our obligation there is no harm, and we will get extra reward for that. But to make a Zakat or Charity, namely Zakatul Fitr or Sadaqa al-Fitr a law when God has not authorized it, is to follow a law other than the law of God. This constitutes an act of idolatry.
12. Ramadan acts are more holy; clears rest of the year sins
Ramadan fasting is one of the many gifts from God. But it does not mean that any religious acts such as Salat and Zakat during this month makes them more special than doing them during the rest of the year. Giving Zakat and praying only during Ramadan does not give our soul any more credit than if we did them throughout the year — as they are required to be done. It is also a wrong belief that during Ramadan the soul is built up so strong that it will help overlook our sins through the rest of the year.
13. Breaking fast with salt or date fruit
Many people believe that the fast can only be opened with select foods such as a pinch of salt or date fruit. Some go even further by importing dates from Mecca or Medina because they believe that those dates that must be eaten, not just any other dates from God’s spacious and bounteous Earth. These are false rules which find their root in Hadith. The dietary prohibitions as specified in Quran are applicable at all times and do not make distinction among foods during Ramadan or any other time (2:187, 13:4). Believers are free to end or start a fast with whatever food they want (even dates), provided they do not make a religious law out of it and attribute it to God (7:32).
14. Eid celebration
Eid Ul Fitr is the celebration of the end of the month of Ramadan. This means it is the breaking of the fast that had consisted throughout the month. On the first day after Ramadan ends, people get together and celebrate with a feast, greeting and congratulating each other for fulfilling such a great obligation to God. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, provided it is not made into a religious requirement. It is a personal choice and is absolutely optional because it is not a religious law. Also, just like there is no extra Salat Prayer as mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as an ‘Eid’ Salat prayer which is performed in congregation on the first morning of Shawaal after the end of Ramadan fasting.
15. Shawwal fast followed by Ramadan fast
Traditional Muslims fast several days sometime in the month of Shawwal followed by Ramadan fast despite the details of both obligatory and optional fasting are found in the Quran. They believe that Shawwal fasting serves as a witness of Ramadan fasting to help their Ramadan fasting to reach to God to be rewarded by Him. It does not conform to His teaching given in the Quran as He knows whatever we conceal and whatever we declare i.e., nothing is hidden from Him whatever on earth nor in the heavens (2:77, 14:38), even we cannot conspire secretly without the presence of Him (58:7). Thus, there is no doubt that this is manmade and if we follow such manmade teaching, we would be idol worshippers.
God is the only source of all religious laws and practices as He exactly knows what we need to improve ourselves. Like all other religious practices gifted to us by God, fasting during the month of Ramadan is a great system to develop our soul in preparation for the Hereafter. While there is scientifically proven health benefit from it but the real benefit is achieved though the enhanced remembrance of God throughout the month. The true believers who do not want to miss such benefit, of course they do not, would examine all misunderstandings and violations committed during Ramadan in light of Quran to reform them to be custodian of their own soul instead of taking care of their soul through caretaker (mullas, alem-ulema etc.), and this act in fact, ensures their real benefit of practicing fast during the month of Ramadan.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.