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Soum or fasting is the third pillar of Islam. It is very important in different ways and leaving fasting without any proper reason is a major sin as well. Fasting is mandatory for month of Ramadan but it is a source of expiation for many sins as well.

meaning of Soum

Fasting is the third pillar of Islam.The word Fasting is an Arabic word which means to stop or to restrain from something. The Arabic word used for fasting is ṣiyām.

Explanation of Fasting

Linguistically ṣiyām or Fasting is to restrain oneself from eating, drinking and conjugation from dawn till sunset in the month of Ramadan. The religious meaning of the term ṣiyām (fasting) is to abstain oneself  physically as well as spiritually from breaking the fast.

Physical Term: In physical terms the person must forbade oneself from eating, drinking and engaging in sexual activities.

Spiritual Term: The person who is observing the fast must be spiritually in the state of worship by avoiding backbiting, slandering, rumor-mongering, speaking falsehood, cursing, lying, using foul language, listening to what Allāh has forbidden and looking at what He has forbidden.

History of Fasting

The Fasting was also obligatory for the other nations before Islam as it was also revealed in the old religious scriptures. First revelation on Fasting was brought down by Angel Jabriel in the month of Shaban (18 months after Hijri). Fasting was legislated upon Muslims in the second year after Hijra (migration) of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace & Blessings be up[on him). The Messenger of Allah (peace & Blessing be upon him) fasted 9 Ramadans in his lifetime. The holy book (Quran) was revealed in the holy month of Ramadan. It is believed to be the Night of Qadr.

Allah states in the Qur’an: {O believers! Fasting has been made obligatory for you just as it was made obligatory for those before you so that you may attain taqwa [Q. 2:183-187]}

When to Fast

One should observe Fasting for the whole month of Ramadan.
Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“When you see it (the crescent on the first night of the month) start fasting, and when you see it again cease fasting, and if there is cloud-cover then complete thirty days.”  sahih Bukhari book of sowm, hadiith 1900

Sahur and Aftar

Sahur means eating before the dawn. One should not eat after the Adan of Fajar in order to observe the Fasting. This is the beginning of restraining from eating and drinking.
“Eat and drink until the white thread (of light in the horizon) becomes distinct from the black thread at the onset of fajr. Then complete the fast until the night.” (Qurʾān 2:187)
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, Take Sahur as there is a blessing in it. Sahih Bukhari book of Fasting Hadith no 1923

Aftar is the eating and drinking after the Adan of Magrib. This is the end of Fasting when one can eat from sunset till dawn again.
“When the night arrives from over here, the day ends from over there, and the Sun has set, the fasting person breaks his fast.” (Bukhārī, no. 1954)

Aim of Fasting

The aim of Fasting is to understand the pain of the deprived ones. It helps in getting self control because one restrict itself from the basic needs. This also helps a person to self assessment that what are his flaws and what are the most common sins in which he is indulged in day to day life.Most importantly it is a way to attain TAQWA.


objective of fasting

Leaving to drink and eat is not the main objective, this is just the avenue to rectify the hearts. Further more the Prophet Mohammed (Peace & Blessings be upon him) said

“Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, and give up ignorant behaviour, then Allāh has no need for him to abstain from food and drink.” (Bukhārī, book of good manners hadith no. 6057)


Conditions of Fasting

Following are the conditions of Sawm

1. Niyyah or intention

The first condition to observe the Fasting is the niyyah. One should have an intention to Fast for the sake of Allah’s will and happiness.

2. Self restraint

The second condition is to restrict oneself from basic human needs like eating, drinking and conjugation.

3. Time limits

One should Fast from dawn until sunset. If one does not fulfill this condition and Fast during the times other then this, then it will not be considered as a Fast.

For whom Fasting is obligatory

Five conditions must be met for a person to Fast
• A person must be a Muslim
• An adult (mukhallaf)
• A person is capable of fasting
• A person is settled

Fasting not obligatory

• Insane
• Child
•Non Muslim

For whom Fasting is exempted

Unlike Salah, there is no exemption on Fasting besides the above mentioned. People who are unable to fast fall into two categories. Temporary inability and Permanent inability.

Temporary inability: A person who is sick but hopes to recover soon so in this case a

  1. sick person
  2. pregnant women
  3. nursing mother
  4. a traveler
  5. an unconscious person
  6. menstruated woman

fall in this category of temporary inability. As soon as they are recovered they must complete the number of fast which they have missed.

“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days” [al-Baqarah 2:185]

Permanent inability: A person who is in such state of sickness where there is no hope of recovery or the elderly person who is unable to fast but the people falling under this category of permanent inability are obliged to compensate, as Allah says in the Quran
And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)” [al-Baqarah 2:184]

Conditions to break a Fast

In following conditions, one can break a Fast.
1. Sick
2. Pregnant (if she feels harm to her or either to child condition)
3. Nursing woman
4. Traveler (the traveling distance for breaking the fast must exceed 80 kilometers (48 miles))

Unintentional acts

If one eats or drinks anything by mistake during the Fasting then it will not break the Fast and one should continue to Fast for the rest of the day.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) said, If somebody eats or drinks forgetfully then he should complete his fast, for what he has eaten or drunk, has been given to him by Allah. Sahih Bukhari book of Fasting Hadith no 1933.

Acts which annul the Fasting

Following are things which nullifies Fasting which should be observed lately

• Mouthful Vomiting deliberately

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever vomits involuntarily does not have to make up the fast, but whoever vomits deliberately let him make up the fast.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 720,

• Eating and Drinking with intention

• Masturbation

• Sexual intercourse

It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of As-Siyam (fasting).


• Mensturation and Nifaas

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Is it not the case that when she gets her period, she does not pray or fast?” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 304.  When a woman sees the blood of her period or nifaas (post-partum bleeding), her fast becomes invalid even if that is one moment before sunset.

• Letting blood

How to compensate

There are two ways to make up the remaining Fasts or the broken fast by any sickness, disability, menstruation…
1. Observe the Fast after Ramadan during the whole year.
2. Pay fidyah(compensation money) the sum of money equivalent to buy food for suhur and aftar.

Compensation for sexual intercourse

If one breaks the Fast by conjugation then the person must follow the anyone of the ruling mentioned below

• Free a slave
• Observe fasts for two consecutive months
• Feed sixty people
• Cloth sixty people

And he who does not find [a slave] – then a fast for two months consecutively before they touch one another; and he who is unable – then the feeding of sixty poor persons. That is for you to believe [completely] in Allah and His Messenger (peace & blessing be upon him); and those are the limits [set by] Allah . And for the disbelievers is a painful punishment. Surah Al Mujadala verse 4.

Narrated Abu Huraira: A man came to the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) and said, I had sexual intercourse with my wife on Ramadan (while fasting). The Prophet asked him, Can you afford to manumit a slave? He replied in the negative. The Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) asked him, Can you fast for two successive months? He replied in the negative. He asked him, Can you afford to feed sixty poor persons? He replied in the negative. (Abu Huraira added): Then a basket full of dates was brought to the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) and he said (to that man), Feed (poor people) with this by way of atonement. He said, (Should I feed it) to poorer people than we? There is no poorer house than ours between its (Medina’s) mountains. The Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) said, Then feed your family with it. Sahih Bukhari book of Fasting Hadith no 1937

Sins and Fasting

According to a Hadith of sahih bukhari book of fasting Hadith no 1901

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) said, Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.

So observing ṣiyām will be beneficial for eliminating the sins.

What is Night of power

It is revealed in the Surah Al Qadr that there is a night of power during the month of Ramadan. It is narrated in Hadith that night of Power is hidden amongst the last ten odd nights of Ramadan.
In the verse 3 of Surah Al Dukhaan, ALLAH almighty narrates about the revelation of Quran in night if power

Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind].

Narrated `Aisha: Allah’s Apostle (peace & blessing be upon him) said, Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. Sahih Bukhari book of fasting hadith no 2017

Satan imprisoned during Ramadan

It is narrated in a Hadith that Satan remains imprisoned during the month of Ramadan so the sins one does during Ramadan shows that these have become the part of a person’s nature and are more likely to be done by his own will.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle (peace & blessing be upon him) said, When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. Sahih Bukhari book of Fasting Hadith no 1899

Proof from Hadith

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle (peace & blessing be upon him) said, Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, ‘I am fasting. The Prophet added, By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), ‘He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times. Sahih Bukhari Book of Fasting Hadith no 1894

Narrated Sahl: The Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) said, There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Raiyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to observe fasts?’ They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it. Sahih Bukhari book of Fasting Hadith no 1896

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle (peace & blessing be upon him) said, When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened. Sahih Bukhari book of Fasting hadith no 1898

Rewards during Ramadan

It is mentioned in a hadith that Fasting is for Allah and Allah will give its reward personally. Fasting provides a number of benefits to Muslims maintaining proper functionality of body. The major benefits of fasting are as follow

1. Fasting regulates the heart beat.
2. Reduces pressure on heart arteries.
3. It relaxes the heart.
4. Reduces fats, cholesterol from the body.
5. Decreases secretion of digestive glands which can cause ulcer.
6. Decreases pressure on liver.
7. Decreases stress on kidney stones if someone have some.
8. Reduces weight.
9. Remove toxins from the body.
10. Reverse the aging process.
11. Increases immunity.
12. Increases life span of a person.
13. Helps combat the addiction of something.
14. Helps in self control.
15. Helps in self assessment .
16. Helps in leaving and changing bad habits.
17. Helps in proper working of all body organs.
18. Have positive impacts on brain.
19. Reduces stress.
20. Increases taqwa.
21. Deepens the connection with Allah Almighty.                                                                                                                                                                                           

Proof from Quran

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous – Surah Al Bakarah verse 183

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. Surah Al Bakarah verse 185

It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah , so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous. Surah Al Bakarah verse 187.


fasting as a source of expiation

In many cases, fasting is a source of expiation.

  1. If a person kills another accidently then observing fast for two consecutive months is an expiation from his side.
  2. If one hunts in the condition of Ahram then fasting is also a way to expiate.
  3. Shaving in condition of Ahrem then fasting is expiation.
  4. After breaking a vow, one should expiate in form of fasting.
  5. If one cannot sacrifice an animal while doing Hajj then he can observe fast as expiation.
  6. If a man divorces his wife with Zihar( saying that my wife is my mother) then fasting for two consecutive months to expiate is necessary.





(If you find any mistake in this article please feel free to contact us and point it out. We will try to correct it in the light of Quran and Sunnah. May Allah bless us all with the authentic knowledge of Islam. May this effort of ours ease the way of jannah for our family).

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