Questions to reflect on every Ramadan

Clerics instruct that reading the Holy Koran, should take precedent.

What you need to know:

  • CRUCIAL. Ramadan is more than foregoing food. However, there are some questions you need to ask yourself in this season, writes ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI.

So you brave that hunger and thirst for over 13 hours, 30 days? You also try as much as you can to resist all temptations that may compromise your fasting, all in the name of piety? But that is just part of the task; here is more you ought to consider.

1. How and where do you break your fast?
Did you know that how and where you break your fast matters? Imam Ahmad Kyeyune, a renowned scholar, warns that one’s self-deprivation can go to waste if they are not careful what they eat to break the fast.
He advises that you must be sure that what you eat is halaal. That is, is it your share? Was it acquired genuinely?
“If you are not needy, what is served at mosques is not yours; it is for the needy.”
Return home in time, prepare yourself to break the fast. “In those 10 minutes to time, a believer must make some supplications; ask of Allah whatever he needs,” he says, discouraging breaking the fast “on streets.” “Can someone fighting for a seat in a taxi spare time to say those supplications?”
Eat light so that you are in fit for night (Taraweeh) prayers.
He equally advises women on balancing time between preparing meals and prayer. “This month isn’t for cooking competition,” he says.
2. What do you say while fasting?
Sheikh Kassim Kiyingi of Bilaal Islamic Theological Institute, warns Muslims against foul language. He cites the hadith: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: Fasting does not just mean abstaining from food and drink, rather fasting means abstaining from idle and obscene speech. If someone curses you or treats you in an ignorant manner, then say, ‘I’m fasting, I’m fasting.’”
Another hadith says it is easy for a person fasting to get nothing from his fast apart from hunger…
Quoting Surat Maaida: 90-91, he warns believers against gambling, games of chance, betting and lottery.
He adds that such acts are Satan’s works to distract a believer from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer.
“A gambler is only guided by the urge to earn at the expense of others; can he claim to be following Allah’s guidance? No way.”

4.Can I fast on someone’s behalf?
A non-Muslim colleague suggested jokingly, that she wanted to fast on my behalf. I ‘welcomed’ her idea, equally jocularly, I knew that fasting was not for everyone; and if she was eligible, then shouldn’t she be fasting on her own behalf?
Sheikh Kiyingi says a Muslim can fast on behalf of a deceased Muslim. For instance, if one missed fasting because he was sick or he was on a journey or for other genuine exemptions. If that Muslim dies before making up for that fast, family or friends can fast on his behalf—just like they can perform Hajj (pilgrimage) for him or her.

5.What if I can’t fast?
So you cannot fast because you are sick, battling a chronic illness such as cancer, HIV/Aids, or diabetes, you are pregnant or breast feeding, a traveller or too old?
Here are your alternatives: While travellers and the sick are exempted from fasting, they must make up for the missed fasting when they vacate those situations.
The chronically ill or the old must feed a needy person every day throughout Ramadan, as compensation. However, Imam Kyeyune, says people should differentiate between inviting others for Iftar, breaking fast, and Itwam the mandatory feeding.
He says while offering Iftar is optional, and can be done by even those fasting, feeding the needy is as mandatory as is fasting—it does not matter whether this needy person is Muslim or not.
Islamic scholars differed on what pregnant or breast feeding women should do. Some suggest they can feed the needy, others say they should make up the fast later. Others say doing both is better.

6.What do you do after Ramadan?
Sheikh Kiyingi equates fasting to training. He quotes Surat Baqarah: 183.
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.”
He notes that in verse 188, Allah aimed to guide believers against backsliding: “and do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for judges, with intent that you may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) people’s property.”
Sheikh Kiyingi rules that if a Muslim reverts to his straying ways after Ramadan, it is testimony that his fasting was a waste; he did not learn self-restraint.

What do you read in the month of Koran?
Whatever you read in Ramadan, religious or secular, clerics instruct that reading the Holy Koran, should take precedent.
Sheikh Kiyingi advises that all literature, as long as it is in the line of your job is okay. Even if it borders on evil as long as you have the conviction to castigate the evil it portrays.
But he says reading the Koran is the most rewarding. The Koran like other holy books: Tawrat, Zabur, Injil—was revealed in Ramadan that is why it is called the month of Koran.


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