The Essential Parts and Conditions of Fasting (Shafii)

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What are the essential parts of fasting? What are the conditions of fasting?

I. The Conditions Required for a Person for Ramadan Fasting to become Obligatory upon Him/Her

  1. Being a Muslim. If a Muslim leaves the religion of Islam, fasting in the month of Ramadan is still obligatory upon him/her. If he/she converts back to Islam, he/she must make up the days he/she missed when she/he was an apostate.
  2. Sanity. The insane and those who lose their sanity temporarily are not required to fast.
  3. Puberty. Fasting becomes obligatory upon a believer after reaching the puberty. If a child is strong enough to fast, his/her guardian may advice and encourage him/her to fast in order to to be accustomed to it.

If a child reaches puberty, or an insane person recovers his sanity or an apostate converts back to Islam in the middle of a day during the month of Ramadan, he/she is not required to pretend like he/she is fasting for the rest of the day.

  1. To be able to fast: Those who are too old or too ill to fast are not required to fast for they are physically unable to do it. Similarly, because women who are menstruating or experiencing postpartum bleeding are accepted as legally unable to fast, they are not required to fast.

II. The Conditions for the Validity of Fasting

  1. Being a Muslim. Fasting by a non-Muslim or an apostate is not valid.
  2. To have the ability of discernment. The fasting by a child with discernment older than the age of seven is valid. If he loses his sanity even for a moment during the day, his fasting becomes invalid due to the lack of the ability of discernment. If those who are intoxicated or faint and lose their ability of discernment for the entire day, their fasting become invalid. However, if they lose their discernment only for a part of the day, their fasting is valid.
  3. Being in the period of menses or post-partum bleeding: Women cannot fast during these distinct days. The Ramadan fasting missed during these days, or even if a woman fasts during these days by mistake, it still has to be made up later.
  4. The day on which one fasts should be a day permissible to fast. It is forbidden to fast on certain days of the year (which are mentioned above). For example, if one fasts on the first day of Eid-al Fitr or on the four days of Eid al-Adha, the fasting becomes invalid. Likewise, fasting on the Day of Doubt is subject to the same ruling. However, if one fasts on the Day of Doubt for another reason, for example if one fasts a makeup fast on that day or if one vows to fast on the following Thursday and the following Thursday happens to be the Day of Doubt, or if a person fasts every Monday and Thursday customarily and the Day of Doubt coincides with Monday or Thursday, then this fasting becomes valid.

III. The Essential Parts (Arkān) of Fasting

  1. Intention. It is an integral part of fasting to make intention by heart to fast. This is because waking up to eat something just before dawn in order to get ready for fasting is considered sufficient for making the intention. It is obligatory to make a new intention for every day. (According to Maliki School, making one intention at the beginning of the month of Ramadan is enough for the rest of the month.)

It is a Sunnah to express the intention in words. This is because the tongue is the aid of the heart. If the fasting intended to be performed is an obligatory fasting such as the fasting of Ramadan, makeup or atonement fasting, the intention must be made at night before dawn by saying “I intend to fast the obligatory fasting of tomorrow for the sake of Allah” or “I intend to fast the fasting that I vowed to perform.” If such an intention is made before night, it would remain valid even if something that would invalidate fasting happens afterwards before dawn. This is because the time of fasting is between dawn and sunset.

The intention for the fasting of Ramadan must be made after sunset but before dawn. (According to Hanafi School, intention can be made before the middle of day which is also called dahwa-i kubra. The middle of the day is found by calculating the mid-point of time between dawn and sunset.)

If it is a supererogatory fasting, the intention can be made during the day. However, it must be made before dahwa-i kubra or the time of the Noon prayer and one should not have done anything which would invalidate fasting until that time.

  1. Abstinence from those things that would invalidate one’s fast. The person who fasts must stay away from everything that would invalidate fasting from true dawn (imsak) until sunset. If the person who fasts eats, drinks, or has sexual relations between these time limits, he invalidates his fast and in accordance with the way of invalidating his fast, he has to either fast one day to make it up or fast two months for atonement in addition to the makeup fasting or pay monetary compensation as atonement.

Source: Fiqh1 (According To The Shafi’i School Of Islamic Law), Erkam Publications

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