Islamic Voice
Shaban/Ramadan 1422
November 2001
Volume 15-11 No:179

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The Psychology of Fasting
Prophet's Sermon on the Month of Ramadan
Dos and Don'ts of Fasting

The Psychology of Fasting

By Dr. Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef

If we want to study the psychological benefit of fasting, we need to discuss first the question of immediate and delayed fulfilment of human needs and desires. Fasting is an abstention from fulfilling certain desires and physical needs, from dawn to dusk. It involves abstention from eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, and from immediate response to certain other desires. This in itself involves personal training in what psychological experts call “delayed fulfilment.

The ability to delay the fulfilment of one’s desires is the criterion that distinguishes an adult from a child, a mature person from one who lacks maturity. When a child wants something from you, he or she will pester you until he gets it. The thought of having to get it may become too strong that the child would not be able to tolerate being denied. A child may often be in a fit of tears if his or her desire is not satisfied, but as the child grows up and becomes psychologically mature, he or she becomes better able to tolerate being denied what they desire. But the degree of tolerance may vary a great deal from one child to another. The same applies to adults, some of whom may be very keen to satisfy their desires immediately. Even an adult may need to be more mature in this sense, and acquire a greater ability for delayed fulfilment of personal desires. Indeed patience and tolerating the inability to have one’s desires immediately satisfied are highly important elements in attaining personal maturity. Fasting in Ramadan may be viewed as an annual training course in being more patient and able to resist one’s desires. It helps to acquire higher maturity. Indeed, trying impatiently to satisfy one’s desire is found at its strongest with people who have not had the sort of training faith provides. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Yet man prays for evil as eagerly as he prays for good. Truly man is ever hasty.” (17: 11) He also says: “Man is a creature of haste. I shall make My signs obvious to you. Do not, then, ask Me to hasten [things].” (21: 37) In another verse, He says: “You love this fleeting life, and give no thought to the life to come.” (75: 20-21)

Fasting and the sexual desire

The Prophet encourages young people to get married, once they are able to afford marriage. Those whose means do not enable them to marry should resort to fasting, for it helps them to resist the sexual urge. The point here is not that fasting, with what it involves of hunger and thirst, weakens the body and, consequently, reduces desire. A fasting person will finish the fast at sunset, and have a good meal that brings one’s body to its full vigor. In the early days of Islam, when sexual intercourse was forbidden to Muslims even at night on a fasting day, some of the Prophet’s companions fell for the temptation and courted their wives. This shows that fasting was not sufficient to quieten their sexual desire completely. Nevertheless, the Prophet advises single men who are unable to get married to resort to fasting. This means that fasting is useful in such a situation, but in a way that is different from weakening the body through hunger and thirst.

Young people who steer away from illegitimate sex and cannot afford marriage may suffer from sexual thoughts, pressure and romantic feelings to an obsessive degree. That may cause disruption of one’s work or study. Such a preoccupation may take place even though there may be no specific object of excitement. This is particularly troublesome and people may find it too difficult to get rid of. It is in this area that we find a particular benefit of fasting. Some young people have told me about their own personal experience, confirming that fasting overcomes such obsessive thoughts about sex and love, without weakening the sexual desire itself. A fasting person will continue to be influenced by sexual excitement when he comes across it.

Generally, people do not like marriage in Ramadan or shortly before it. A newly married couple find it very hard to abstain from sex during the day when they are fasting, having nothing to eat or drink. On the other hand, a single person who is fasting and tries not to look hard or get involved in what excites sexual feelings will continue to have his mind free, not preoccupied with oppressive love and sex fancies. In this way, fasting is a protective factor for him, particularly when it is coupled with lowering one’s gaze so that one does not look at what tempts him to indulge in sin. Moreover, fasting has the beneficial effect of feeling oneself to be in worship from dawn to dusk.

Should a fasting person be temporarily oblivious of the fact that he is fasting, he will come back to realize that he is in worship. That will make him more resistant to a temptation of stealing a forbidden look, or anything that awakens his latent sexual desire.


Prophet's Sermon on the Month of Ramadan

“O people! The Month of Allah the High has come with blessings, mercy and forgiveness. To Allah, this month is the best month. Its days are the best days. Its nights the best of all nights. Its hours the best of all hours.

And this is the month which you have been invited to be the guests of Allah and you have become the graced ones by Allah.

Your souls sleep in it is worship.

Your deeds in it are accepted. Your prayers in it are answered. So ask your Lord with truthful intentions and pure hearts that He would grant you success in fasting and reading His Book. For that the unfortunate is the one who forbids Allah’s forgiveness in this great month.

With your hunger and thirst remember the hunger and thirst of the Day of Judgment

Give to your poor and needy. Respect the elder. Have mercy on the younger.

Be nice and keep in touch with your relatives. Protect your tongues.

Cast down from what is not Halal for your sights to see, and what is not halal for your ears to hear.

Be compassionate and caring for the orphans of other people, so that your orphans would be taken care of and receive compassion.

Repent from your sins.

Raise your hands towards Him in dua during the hours of prayers , those hours are the best hours and Allah looks at His servants with mercy, answers their dua if they ask Him.

O people! Your souls are hostages by your deeds. So let yourselves free by asking Allah’s forgiveness. Your backs are heavy with loads, so make it light by prolonging your Sajdas. And know that Allah - Jalla Zikruh - has vowed to His Dignity that He would not punish those who pray and those who make Sajda.

And he would not worry them with Fire on the Day which people rise to the Lord of the Universe.

O people! Whoever feeds fasting believer during this month, to Allah, it is as if he has freed a slave. And his past sins are forgiven.”

Then he continued “...whoever does one Fareedha (“religious deed”) during this month, it is as if he has accomplished doing 70 good deeds in other months. Whoever increases sending blessings on me, Allah will make his rewards heavy on the day which people’s rewards are light. Whoever recites one Ayah of Qur’an will receive the reward of finishing the whole Qur’an in other months.

O people! The doors of Heaven in this month is open, so ask your Lord not to close it on you.

The doors of Hell are closed, so ask your Lord not   to open it for you.

The devils are in chains, so ask your Lord that they do not rule you”


Dos and Don'ts of Fasting

Piety (Taqwa)

Q. Why do we fast?

A. We fast because Allah (s.w.t.) told us to fast to have more piety (Taqwa). Also fasting makes us healthier as the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Fast and you will be healthier”. Fasting strengthens our self discipline and help us control our desires and actions. When we fast, we see the food, wish to eat it but can’t, and hence can relate to the poor and needy who see the food and cannot buy it, which will motivate us to help the poor and needy. Fasting also makes us appreciate the food and sustenance given to us by Allah (s.w.t.). In non-fasting days, many people get bored by seeing the same menu of food and forget to thank Allah (s.w.t.). During fasting, however, any food looks delicious and we get to appreciate all the food at sunset. The month of Ramadan is also a very important unifying factor among Muslims. It brings the Muslims together until each community becomes like a family when eating together and praying together a great deal on daily basis.

Qur’an was Revealed

Q. What is so special about Ramadan?

A. Ramadan is the best of the months of the years. The Qur’an was revealed in it as stated in the Qur’an. Also the rewards are greatly multiplied in Ramadan if the intention is sincere. The gates of Paradise (Jannah) are open, the gates of Hell (Jahannam) are closed, and the Shayatin are tied up as the Prophet (s.a.w.) told us. Also the fasting of Ramadan can wipe out all the wrong doings committed before if we avoid the great ones (Kaba’ir) that need repentance (Tawbah). Qiam (praying at night) in the month of Ramadan can also wipe out all the wrong doings committed before if the great ones are avoided. This does not mean than we cannot do wrong in Ramadan because Shaitan is tied up; people can make the job of Shaitan much easier by coming to him rather than he comes to them. There are so many Hadiths that talk about reward in Ramadan; just to quote some, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Whoever fasted Ramadan out of belief in it and sincerely seeking the reward from Allah, all his past wrong doings will be forgiven”. He also said: “Whoever prayed Qiam throughout Ramadan, all his past wrong doings will be forgiven”. It is a good idea to pay Zakah of assets during this month since the reward will be multiplied In Sha’ Allah. Agricultural products Zakah is paid during the harvest time.

Fasting is Fard

Q. Do we have to fast?

A. Fasting is a Fardh (must) and is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is made Fardh in the Qur’an and Hadith.

Correct Fasting

Q. Some people abstain only from food, drinks, and intercourse from dawn till dusk in Ramadan without abstaining from evil talk and wrong doings; is there fasting correct?

A. Technically, there fasting is corrected but won’t get them any reward. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Whoever does not leave evil talk and working according to it, then Allah does not need him to leave his food and drink”. He also said: “So many fasting people get only hunger and thirst from there fasting, and so many praying at night people get only staying up from their prayer”. Abu-Hamid Al-Ghazali says that abstaining from food, drinks, and intercourse is the fasting of the masses; abstaining from wrong doings is the fasting of the special Muslims; and abstaining from worrying about material life is the fasting of the special of the special (the elite) of the Muslims.

Intention of Fasting

Q. If I intended not to fast a day in Ramadan for some reason then I woke up and decided to fast, would my fasting be void?

A. Niyyah (intention) is a pillar in the fasting and it should made any time before Fajr and does not have to be said since it is in the heart. Getting up for Suhur actually fulfills the Niyyah; also going to sleep at night intending to fast the next day fulfills the Niyyah. So, if you intended not to fast and then fasted, you will have to make up for that day. This is not the case in voluntary fasting where you can fast with a Niyyah made during the daytime.

Taking Bath

Q. Can I take a bath or a shower or dip in water while fasting?

A. Yes, you can take a bath or a shower and you can dip in water during fasting so long as you do not swallow the water.


Q. Can I wash my mouth and nose during Wudu’ (ablution)?

A. Yes, you cam, but without exaggeration that makes you swallow water. If you do your best to avoid getting water into your throat and some particles do get there unintentionally, your fasting is still valid. So, make sure to sniff out and spit out the water from your nose and mouth after washing them.

Eating in Forgetfulness

Q. If I eat or drink out of forgetfulness, does that void my fasting?

A. No, it does not; the Prophet (s.a.w.) told us that Allah (s.w.t.) feeds and gives drink to the person by making him forget.

Unintentional Vomiting

Q. If I vomit unintentionally (without forcing myself), does that void my fasting?

A. No, it does not. However, intentional vomiting voids the fasting.


Q. Does bleeding of the mouth and gum void my fasting?

A. No, it does not if you wash your mouth and do not swallow the blood, the water mixed with the blood, or the saliva mixed with the blood. If you take precaution and some tiny particles still get to your throat then your fasting is still valid.


Q. Would my fasting be void if I cut my fingers or feet and bleed?

A. No, it would not be void.

Using Miswak

Q. Can I use Miswak to clean my teeth while fasting?

A. Yes, you can, and it is a Sunnah. The Prophet (s.a.w.) used it very often during the day of fasting. Of course, you should not swallow any pieces that come off the Miswak.

Brushing Teeth

Q. Can I brush my teeth with toothpaste?

A. Technically, it does not void your fasting if you are cautious and if you make sure not to swallow the paste or the saliva mixed with it. However, it is much safer to brush with toothpaste after Suhur and before Fajr time and then use the dry brush without paste during the day.

Using Inhaler

Q. If a person has Asthma, does using the inhaler void the fast?

A. No, it does not void the fast according to Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, whether it is gaseous or compressed gas in a liquid form. It it is a strong Asthma, the perspn is not required to fast anyway, but if he/she fasts and uses the inhaler, the fast will count.

Using Eye Drops

Q. Can I use eye drops and Kuhul while fasting?

A. Yes, you can since they are not food or drink and they do not enter the body from an open entrance that fulfill the desires. Some schools of Fiqh differ on this but the majority say it is okay.

Using Ear Drops

Q. Can I use ear drops while fasting?

A. This is a controversial issue in Fiqh; according to Imam Shafi‘i, it does void fasting since he considers the ear an open entrance of the body. Other scholars say it does not void the fasting, which I believe is the stronger opinion.

Taking Injections

Q. Can I take an injection while fasting?

A. Yes, you can, since it is not entering from the mouth or the nose to the body

Swallowing Saliva

Q. Can I swallow my saliva while fasting?

A. Yes you can as long as it is only saliva.

Swallowing Food Pieces

Q. Can I swallow the food pieces stuck between my teeth while fasting?

A. No, you cannot if you can feel the food pieces. If you swallow them intentionally, your fasting will be void. However, if you could not feel the tiny pieces in your saliva and you swallowed them, or you swallowed the pieces that you can feel by a mistake, then your fasting is not void.

Unintentional Eating

Q. Would it void my fasting if I swallow something unintentionally or something out of my control such as flies or dust?

A. No, it would not void your fasting since it is out of your control.

Tasting Food

Q. Can I taste the grapes before buying them during the daytime while fasting?

A. It does not void your fasting to taste with the tip of your tongue and then to spit out what is left on your tongue or in your mouth.

Chewing Gum

Q. Can I chew gum while fasting?

A. If the gum has sweets in it then it voids your fasting since it will mix with the saliva. However, if it is a natural gum with no pieces falling off such as the one from the terbinth tree the it does not void the fasting; however, it is Makruh since it is not consonant with fasting and is similar to eating and drinking since it fulfills some desires.


Q. Do I have to break my fast if I am travelling?

A. You are allowed to break your fast if you are travelling but you do not have to. It is better to do what is more convenient for you; if fasting is easy on you and making up later is hard, then fast; however, if fasting is too hard for you or you can easily make up later, then do not fast.

Distance of Travelling

Q. What is the distance of traveling and what is the means?

A. The distance is 84 KM or about 52.5 miles according to most Muslim scholars. Travelling can be by any means, whether it is an airplane or a camel.

Mistake in Sahur

Q. If I ate Sahur thinking it was not Fajr time yet or ate Iftar thinking it was already sunset, does that void my fasting?

A. Yes, it does void your fasting, and you will have to make up for the day. If the mistake was in eating Sahur after Fajr, you still should fast and then make up for the day.

Sahur Timing

Q. Do I have to eat Sahur and how long before Fajr do I have to stop eating?

A. It is Sunnah to eat Sahur and it is Sunnah to delay it until before Fajr. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Eat Sahur since there is Barakah (blessing) in Sahur”. Once Fajr starts, one should quit eating and drinking right away. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “My Ummah (nation) is still on the right path as long as they eat Iftar soon and eat Sahur late”.

Sahur and Suhur

Q. What is the difference between Sahur and Suhur?

A. Sahur is the food you eat while Suhur is the process getting up and eating Sahur.

Iftar Timing

Q. How long after sunset should I wait to eat Iftar?

A. The Sunnah is to eat as soon as the sun sets. It is against the Sunnah to wait late until it is dark or until seeing the stars. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “My Ummah (nation) is still on the right path as long as they eat Iftar soon”.

Eating Iftar

Q. What is the best way of eating Iftar?

A. It is recommended to do what the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to do; he used to start with soft dates; if he could not find, then dry dates; if he could not find, then water. Then, he used to pray and come back and eat his meal. He also said that if the food is already served, start with the food. People, however, should not make it a habit to serve food before Maghrib prayer since the time is short for Maghrib.

Dua at Iftar

Q. What do I say when I eat Iftar?

A. You say what the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to say: “Allahumma Inni Laka Sumt, Wa ‘Ala Rizqika Aftart. Zahabaz-Zama, Wabtallatil-‘uruq, Wa Thabatal Ajru In Sha’ Allah”, which means: “Oh Allah, I fasted for you, and I broke my fast on your sustenance; thirst is gone, the blood vessels are wet, and the reward is granted In Sha’ Allah”. Then say what you usually say before any meal: “Allahumma Barik Lana Fima Razaqtana, Wa Qina `Azaban-Nar, Bismillah”, which means: “Oh, Allah, bless what you have provided us with, and protect us from the punishment of the fire, in the name of Allah”.

Chewing Food

Q. Can a woman chew food for her baby while fasting?

A. Yes, she can without voiding her fasting if she makes sure not to swallow any food. This, however, may not be needed at all in most places these days since there are machines to do that, and it is better not to do it when there is an alternative.

Woman’s Period

Q. Can a woman fast during her monthly period or confinement period after giving birth?

A. No, she cannot. It would be Haram to fast during those two times since the worship of Allah (s.w.t.) should be by obeying Allah’s commands.

Pregnant Woman

Q. If a woman is pregnant or nursing a baby, does she have to fast?

A. No, she does not have to fast if she fears for her health, her baby’s health, or both. If she does not fast, then she should make up for the days she did not fast. However, if she is having a lot of children, and it is inconvenient for her to make up since she is one year pregnant and one year or more nursing, then she can feed a poor person for every day that she did not fast instead of making up.

Breast Feeding

Q. Can a woman nurse (breast-feed) her baby while fasting?

A. Nursing babies does not void the fasting.

Wet Dream

Q. Would my fasting be void if I had a wet dream while sleeping during the daytime of Ramadan?

A. Your fasting would still be valid since it is something out of your control.

Taking Bath

Q. If a man and his wife had an intercourse at night, do they have to take a bath before Fajr?


No, they do not have to. They can take it after Fajr time enters so that they can pray Fajr.


Q. Would kissing one’s spouse void the fasting?

A. No, it would not so long as one can control himself/herself. Also the same is for holding hands and similar things between the married couple.
(Sound Vision)



Ramadan offers the opportunity of reciting or listening to the recitation of the entire Quran during a span of 27 days. The imam recites a little over a Para (30 Paras in the Quran) of the Holy Quran in the special Tarawih prayers without disturbing the sequence of the chapters. The sequence of the recitation of Qur’an on each night of the Tarawih prayers is given below. If one could attend the Tarawih prayers after reciting these portions once or twice at home, it contributes to much concentration during the prayers. It would give the listener a ring of familiarity and a sense of pleasure in following the imam and spare him the tedium of mere physical movements. This is bound to add to the sentimental bonds with the Allah’s message and involvement with the Quran. Here is a division of the Holy Quran in 27 portions.


Chapter of Quran

Night - 1

1:1 to 2:176

Night - 2

2:177 to 3:18

Night - 3 3:19 to 3:200
Night - 4 4:1 to 4:141
Night - 5 4:142 to 5:115
Night - 6 5:116 to 6:116
Night - 7 7:1 to 7:206
Night - 8 8:1 to 9:93
Night - 9 9:94 to 12:12
Night - 10 12:13 to 13:18
Night - 11 13:19 to 16:89
Night - 12 16:90 to 18:74
Night - 13 18:75 to 21:50
Night - 14 21:16 to 24:20
Night - 15 24:21 to 27:14
Night - 16 27:15 to 29:44
Night - 17 29:45 to 33:30
Night - 18 33:31 to 36:21
Night - 19 36:22 to 39:31
Night - 20 39:32 to 41:46
Night - 21 41:47 to 45:37
Night - 22 46:1 to 51:30
Night - 23 51:31 to 57:29
Night - 24 58 to 66
Night - 25 67:1 to 77:50
Night - 26 78:1 to 95:8
Night - 27 96 to 114


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