July 6, 2012


Al hamdulilah (All praises are due to Allah) for the blessings of being a part of this year’s Ramadan.  The African Islamic Community Center (AICC) Inc. once again through its second Ramadan edition welcomes and congratulates all of its members and the general Islamic Community for obeying one of the pillars of Islam by fasting in this  month of Ramadan.  As we join over a billion Muslims around the globe to fast in this holy month of Ramadan, it is the wish, hope and the prayers of the AICC family that the Almighty Allah will continue to bless and protect us in seeking his pleasure, rewards and blessings within these last days of Ramadan.
What Is Ramadan or Fasting In the Month Of Ramadan?
 Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar. It is considered to be the best of all of the 12 Islamic months. Fasting is refraining from eating, drinking and having sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset – with clear intention of seeking the pleasure of the Almighty Allah. It is important to make your intention to fast before dawn of the day you will be observing fast. Failing to do this will render your fast non valid for that day.  However, some scholars maintain that if you made an intention to fast for the full month Ramadan on the first night of the month, you do not have to renew your intention on all the other nights.
The Obligation Of Fasting & Its Associated Benefits:
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is a great act of worship. Fasting in this month is also one of the five pillars of Islam.  Fasting in itself is an obligation on all Muslims. The obligation of fasting is clearly spelled out in  Suratul Baqarah , wherein Allah (SWT) Says: “O Believers, Fasting is an obligation upon you as it was ordained upon those before you to help you become pious” (So that you can fear Allah).  Q(2:183). The above ayah ( verse)  affirms that Muslims fast because it is a command from Allah (SWT). With respect to fasting in the month of Ramadan, Allah (SWT) sent down the following ayat “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an as a guide to mankind, also a clear (sign) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during the month should spend it in fasting…,.”. Q(2:185) Besides the exceptions (based on valid excuses) given in the remaining part of this ayat, fasting is an obligation on all Muslims. Without a valid reason, abstaining from fasting in the month of Ramadan is considered a sin. What we have said so far about fasting and fasting in the month of Ramadan is all contained in a hadith narrated by Aisha(Prophet’s wife/May Allah be pleased with her) that the “Quraish used to fast on the day of 'Ashura' in the Pre-lslamic period, and Allah's Apostle too, used to fast on that day. When he came to Medina, he fasted on that day and ordered others to fast, too. Later when the fasting of the month of Ramadan was prescribed, he gave up fasting on the day of 'Ashura' and it became optional for one to fast on it or not”. (Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 31 :: Hadith 220).   The day of Ashura is the day that Allah(SWT) liberated prophet Musa and the children of Israel from Pharoah’s bondage.  Hence we can see that fasting in the month of Ramadan is unique and specific to the Ummah (nation) of the holy prophet Muhammad(PBUH). Anything that Allah (SWT) ordains for His servants, is for the
benefit of His servants in this world and in the hereafter. Abu Huraira reported “Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah the Exalted and Majestic said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward it. (Muslim :: Book 6 : Hadith 2566) We are given an indication of the rewards associated with fasting when Imam Al-Bukhari related in a Qudsiyy hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) directly from Allah) that:  “The reward of every good deed is multiplied from ten up to seven hundred times.  However, the reward of Fasting, done in sincerity , will be multiplied by as many times as Allah wills” ie. more than 700 times.  This Qudsiyy hadith is a clear manifestation as to how incalculable and immeasurable the reward is for fasting in the month of Ramadan. One example of the blessings is that on the Day of Judgment one of the gates of paradise (Ar-Rayyan) will be open solely for fasting Muslims to enter paradise through that gate. [May Allah (SWT) accept our fasting and grant us paradise]
In the ayat just quoted above, Q(2:185) Allah (SWT) continues, “But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you to difficulties.  (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful”. Q(2:185). [May we follow the guidance of Allah (SWT) and have the necessary wisdom and resources to invite others to the path.]
“The prescribed period should be made up by days later” since Allah (SWT) wants us to gain the blessings of fasting without difficulties and hardship, it will be helpful to go into the concessions He made as a further example of His Mercy.
The following are references from Fiqh-us-Sunnah by Sayyid Sabiq(Chapter 3) :
“Elderly men and women are permitted to break their fasts, as are the chronically ill, and those who have to perform difficult jobs under harsh circumstances and who could not find any other way to support themselves. All of these people are allowed to break their fast, because such a practice would place too much hardship on them during any part of the year. They are obliged to feed one poor person (miskin) a day (for every day of fasting that they do not perform).  The due Zakatul Fitr for each is a Sa’ which is equal to four times the fill of a pair of average-sized hands cupped together with the most common staple food of one’s area.  
The same is true for one who is chronically ill and as such cannot fast, and for one who is forced to work under harsh circumstances and as such cannot endure the additional burden of fasting. Both groups must also feed one poor person daily.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women, if they fear for themselves or for the baby, can break the fast and pay the "ransom." They do not have to make up the days missed. Pregnant or breast-feeding women, if they fear for the child, can do likewise." This is related by al-Bazzar. For example, "Ibn 'Abbas”(Uncle & Companion of the Prophet) used to say to his wives who were pregnant: 'You are in the same situation as those who can fast [but do not]. You are to pay the "ransom" and do not have to make up the days later.' "   This account of Ibn Abbas is Sahih(Authentic).
Nafi' reported that Ibn 'Umar was asked about a pregnant woman who feared for her unborn baby. He replied: "She is to break the fast and to feed one poor person a day."
There is also a hadith that states: "Allah has relieved the travelers of fasting and half of the prayer, and the pregnant and the breast-feeding women of the fast."According to some scholars from the Hanafi school, (Abu Ubaid,
and Abu Thaur), such women are only to make up the missed days of fasting, and they are not supposed to feed one poor person a day. According to Ahmad and ash-Shaf'I schools, if such women fear only for the baby, they must pay the "ransom" and make up the days later. If they fear only for themselves or for themselves and the baby, then they are only to make up the missed days at a later date.  It is however important to note, that on this subject as it is with  many other issues in Islam, we should expect differences in interpretations.  Hence,  it is acceptable for one to follow any one of the four major schools of thought.
· Making up the Missed Days of Fasting:
It is allowed for those who are (not chronically) ill and for travelers to break their fasts during Ramadan, but theymust make up the days they missed. Allah says in the Qur'an(2:185):  …..But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later.
A sick person may break his fast which, if continued, would only aggravate the illness or delay its cure.  In al-Mughni it is stated: "It is related from some of the early scholars that any type of illness allows one to break the fast, even an injury to the finger or a toothache. They based their opinion on the following:
1. That the wording of the verse quoted above is general and applies to all types of illnesses, and
2. That a traveler is allowed to break his fast even if he does not need to and, therefore, the same must be the case for one who is sick." This was also the opinion of al-Bukhari, 'Ata, and some other scholars.
· Those who must make up the missed days
The scholars agree that it is obligatory for menstruating women and women with post childbirth bleeding to break the fast and to make up the missed days later on. Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded that 'Aishah said: "When we would have our menses during the lifetime of the Prophet, we were ordered to make up the days of fasting that we had missed but were not ordered to make up the prayers that we had missed.
·  Night of Qadr, its virtue
The night of Qadr is the most virtuous night of the year. Allah says in the Qur'an(Chapter 96): "We revealed it on the night of power [that is, qadr]. What will tell you what the night of power is? It is better than a thousand months." Any action therein, for example, reciting the Qur'an, making remembrance of Allah, and so on, is better than acting for one thousand months which do not contain the night of qadr.
· Night of Qadr, it is preferred to seek this night:
It is preferred to seek this night during the last ten nights of Ramadan, as the Prophet, upon whom be peace, strove his best in seeking it during that time. We have already mentioned that the Prophet would stay up during the last ten nights, would wake his wives, and then would remain apart from them to worship.
· Night of Qadr, which night is it?
Scholars hold different opinions as to the night which is the night of qadr. Some are of the opinion that it is the 21st, some say the 23rd, others say the 25th and still others say it is the 29th. Some say that it varies from year to year but it is always among the last ten nights of Ramadan. Most scholars, though, vouch for the 27th. ImamAhmad recorded, with a sahih chain(authentic narration), from Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet said: "He who likes to seek thatnight should do so on the 27th.
·  Night of Qadr, praying and making supplications during the night of qadr:
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Whoever prays during the night of qadr with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven." As to the supplication during the night of qadr, 'Aishah said: "I asked the Messenger of Allah: 'O Messenger of Allah, if I know
what night is the night of qadr, what should I say during it?' He said: 'Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.' " This is related by Imams Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and by atTirmizhi, who called it sahih.
· I'tikaf, its meaning:
I'tikaf means to stick to something, whether good or bad, and to block out everything else…….  What is meant here is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah.
· I'tikaf, its legitimacy:
All scholars agree on its legitimacy. The Prophet would perform i'tikaf for ten days every Ramadan. In the year that he died, he performed it for twenty days. This is related by alBukhari, Abu Dawud, and ibn-Majah. The Prophet's companions and wives performed i'tikaf with him and continued to do so after his death. Even though it is an act which is done to get closer to Allah, it is reported that there is no sound hadith concerning its (specifically assigned merits). Abu Dawud states: "I said to Ahmad, 'Are you aware of anything concerning the virtues of i'tikaf?' He answered: 'No, except for some weak [reports].' "
· I'tikaf, the length of i'tikaf
The obligatory i'tikaf is to be as long as the oath states it to be. If one makes an oath to make i'tikaf for one day or more, he is to fulfill that length of time.
· I'tikaf, the Beginning and Ending of i'tikaf:
We have already mentioned that the voluntary i'tikaf does not have any specific time period. Whenever a person enters the mosque and makes the intention of becoming closer to Allah by staying there, he will be performing i'tikaf until he leaves. If he has the intention to perform i'tikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan, he should begin it before the sun sets. Al-Bukhari records from Abu Sa'id that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Whoever makes i'tikaf with me is to make i'tikaf during the last ten [nights]." The ten refers to the last ten nights which begin on the night of the 20th or the 21st (of Ramadan). Concerning the statement that when the Prophet desired to make i'tikaf he would pray the morning and then go to the place of his i'tikaf, it means that he used to enter the place which he had prepared for his seclusion, but the actual time that he entered the mosque for his seclusion was during the beginning of the night. According to  Imams Abu Hanifah and ash-Shafi, whoever performs i'tikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan must leave the mosque after sunset on the last day of the month. Imams Malik and Ahmad say that it is acceptable to leave after sunset, but they prefer for the person to remain in the mosque until the time for the 'id prayer. The night begins when the sun sets and ends with dawn. The day begins with dawn and is completed by sunset.
What is Zakat ul-Fitr?
Zakat Ul-Fitr is the charity that we pay at the end of Ramadan.  Here is the foundational hadith that establishes the obligation of Zakat ul-Fitr:
Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (sala-Allahu alayhi wa sallam), made Zakat al-Fitr compulsory on every  male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Saa` (a measurement: four double handfuls) of staple food of the area or country.  This could be corn, wheat, rice etc. (Sahih Bukhari ). 
It is worth noting that the giving of Zakat al-Fitr is most times misunderstood by members of our community in terms of who should give it, to whom it should be given and under what condition it should be given.
Some people go to Eid prayers and drop money into the donation box thinking that they have paid their Zakat ul-Fitr.  This is wrong because generally, Zakat al-Fitr, which should be in the form of  food, must be in the hands of the needy family or
Zakat-ul-Fitr will certainly not reach the intended recipients before the Eid Prayer as required. Thus the person paying/giving the Zakat-al-Fitr at the Eid prayer risks missing the  required condition under which  Zakat al-Fitr should be given or paid. May Allah forgive us.

Confusing Zakat al-Fitr with Zakat al-Maal
Zakat Al-Maal (Maal literally means wealth), is the Zakah due on ones’ wealth including  money, agricultural produce etc.  This  could be due any time during the year.  Whereas, as explained above, Zakat al-Fitr is specific with respect to the time frame and the medium of payment(food). Although some scholars especially Imam Abu Hanifah have allowed giving money instead of food, however the spirit of Zakat al-Fitr is to give food to the needy of the community, not money. In support of this claim, The Companion of the Prophet, Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree, (radi Allahu ‘anhu), said, “In the Prophet’s time, we used to give it (Zakatal-Fitr) as  Sa` of food, dried dates, barley, raisins or dried cheese”. [Bukhari ]
Mailing the money overseas
Since Zakat-al Fitr should be in the hands of the needy before  Eid prayer, it is not practical to snail mail it (food/money). However, if one is able to get the Zakah al-Fitr  (food/money) to the needy overseas before Eid prayer is conducted in their locality, then Insha-Allah it’s alright.

Not paying
It is haram to skip the payment of Zakat al-Fitr. Zakat Al-Fitr must be paid for every member of the household. So if you have 8 people in your house, Zakat al-Fitr must be paid x 8, even if the youngest member is just a few days old.

Giving one’s Zakat al-Fitr to a charitable building project
Some people mistakenly give their Zakat-al-Fitr to a charitable building project: like the building of a Masjid, or Islamic school.  There is a difference of opinion on this issue, but suffice it to say that the spirit of Zakah al-Fitr is that the needy should have plentiful food on Eid. All eight types of recipients of Zakah mentioned in the Quran (9:60) are humans, not “building projects”.
The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and for those employed in connection therewith, and for those whose  hearts are to be reconciled, and for the feering of slaves, and fopr those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer—an ordinance from Allah. And Allah is All Knowing and Wise. Q(9:60)
Giving Zakat al-Fitr to non-Muslims
Charity is given to both Non-Muslims and Muslims. However, Zakah al-Fitr charity is something exclusive to the Muslim poor and needy. Hence, one could not give Zakah-al-Fitr to any needy person on the street. “Regular” charity can be given to them, but not

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