When to Start the Fast

When a person is called to testify in anything, his reliability is always an issue. Therefore, reliability of the muslims who report a sighting is important, as it would not be accepted from a person who is known to be a liar or easily misguided.

The first sighting from a trustworthy muslim is acceptable. Muslims are assumed to be trustworthy unless evidence is established against them.

Then, the muslims with this knowledge are to give niyyah (intentions) to Allah, swt, to begin fasting the next full day and do so. If a muslim is not given knowledge from any source he deems reliable and is not able to sight it himself, then he should count thirty days from the previous month and start Ramadan at that time.

We should not wait for local sightings, but instead should accept any reliable muslim source that has announced the sighting of the new moon, anywhere in the world and begin fasting the next full day.

If two muslims disagree over whether a source is reliable or not, they should not argue over this because their minhaj is correct but their knowledge differs. They may discuss the reliability of the source, but cease when they realize they will not wind up seeing eye to eye. (See the article on Differing for more details on the proper manner of handling disagreements between muslims.) If, however, the two muslims disagree on the proper minhaj (methodology), which is to accept the first reliable sighting, then they must come with their proofs and disengage when there is not sincere seeking of truth but potential bickering/arguing instead.

Forbiddence of Fasting on the Day of Doubt

by Shaikh Saleem al-Hilaalee and Shaikh 'Alee Hasan 'Alee 'Abdul-Hameed

A Muslim should not precede Ramadan by fasting a day or two before it, thinking that it might be Ramadan, unless that occurs on a day which he is accustomed to fasting.

From Aboo Hurairah, r.a., who said: He (saaws) said: "Do not pre-empt Ramadan by fasting a day or two before it, except for a man fasting his usual fast - then let him fast it." [Muslim]

So be aware, O brother in Islam, that whoever fasts the day about which there is doubt has disobeyed Allah's Messenger . Silah ibn Zufar reports from 'Ammar: "Whoever fasts the day about which there is doubt has disobeyed Abul-Qaasim (r.a.)." [Reported in mu'allaq form by al-Bukhaaree (4/119), connected by Abu Daawood (no. 3334), at-Tirmidhee (no. 686), an-Nasaa'ee (no. 2188) and Ibn Maajah (no. 3334). Its isnaad contains Abu Ishaaq as-Sabee'ee who is mudallis who has performed 'an'anah. His memory also deteriorated at the end of his life, however it has other chains and supports which are quoted by Ibn Hajr in Taghleequt Ta'leeq (3/141-142) which makes the hadeeth hasan]

Sighting the Moon

Appearance of the new moon is confirmed by the witness of two reliable Muslims, as he (saaws) said: "Fast when it is seen, and cease fasting when it is seen and perform the rites of Hajj based upon that and if it is hidden by clouds then complete thirty (days), and if two witnesses testify then fast and cease fasting." [Reported by an-Nasaa'ee (4/132), Ahmad (4/321), and ad-Daaraqutnee. Its chain of narration is hasan. This wording is an-Nasaa'ee's, Ahmad adds: two Muslim witnesses, and ad-Daaraqutnee has: reliable.]

It will not pass unnoticed that just because two witnesses are accepted in one case does not mean that a single witness cannot be accepted rather the witness of a single person that has seen the new moon is acceptable, for it is established that Ibn 'Umar, r.a., said: "The people looked out for the new moon, so I informed the Prophet that I had seen it, so he fasted and ordered the people to fast." [Reported by Aboo Daawood (no. 2342), ad-Daarimee (2/4), Ibn Hibbaan (no. 871), al-Haakim (1/423) and al-Baihaqee (4/212). Its chain of narration is saheeh as al-Haffidh Ibn Hajr says in at-Talkheesul-Habeer (2/187).]

The Number of Tarawih Rakat

According to Sheikh al-Albani:

The Prophet (sallallahu aleihi wa sallam) did not pray more than eleven rak'at for qiyam (thirteen if we count the two short introductory rak'at).

'Umar (r.a.) commanded Ubayy Bin Ka'b (r.a.) and Tamim ad-Dari (r.a.) to lead the people in tarawih with eleven rak'at, in accordance with the authentic Sunnah.

All reports that the people at the time of 'Umar (r.a.), or any of the noble sahabah, prayed twenty rak'at are unauthentic and contradict the truly established reports. Similarly, all claims that the sahabah (r.a.) have made an ijma' (consensus) to pray twenty rak'at are baseless.

Even if a weak report were considered authentic by some people, one should still follow the well established authentic report, because it agrees with the number established in the Sunnah. One may not desert the Sunnah for anybody's understanding or practice.

With our certitude that the Prophet's (saaws) consistent practice is the best, it becomes obvious that one should adhere to the number established in the Sunnah, and refrain from adding to it. This has been the position of many 'ulama.

And even if we concede to the often misquoted and misunderstood statement that, "There are good innovations," we must adhere to the consensus among the scholars that following Sunnah is better that any innovation. 'Abdullah Bin Mas'ud (r.a.) said: "Doing little according to the Sunnah is better than doing much in way of bid'ah." [Authentic report recorded by ad-Darimi, al-Bayhaqi, and al-Hakim. The latter verified it to be authentic - to which ath-Thahabi agreed.]

Laylat al-Qadr

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #1962, Narrated AbuHurayrah [Ahmad and Nasa'i transmitted it.]

Allah's Messenger said, "Ramadan, a blessed month, has come to you during which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast. In it the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of al-Jahim are locked, and the rebellious devils are chained. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months. He who is deprived of its good has indeed suffered deprivation."

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #2092, Narrated AbuBakrah [Tirmidhi transmitted it.]

AbuBakrah heard Allah's Messenger say, "Seek it (meaning Laylat al-Qadr), on the twenty-first, twenty-third, twenty-fifth, twenty-seventh, or on the last night."

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #2096, Narrated Anas ibn Malik [Bayhaqi transmitted it in Shu'ab al-Iman.]

Allah's Messenger said that when Laylat al-Qadr comes, Gabriel descends with a company of angels who invoke blessings on ever who is standing or sitting and remembering Allah, who is Great and Glorious. Then when their festival day comes, i.e. the day when they break their fast, Allah speaks proudly of them to His angels saying, "My angels, what is the reward of a hired servant who has fully accomplished his work?" They reply, "Our Lord, his reward is that he should be paid his wage in full." He says, "My angels, My male and female servants have fulfilled what I have made obligatory for them, and then have come out raising their voices in supplication. By My might, glory, honour, high dignity and exalted station, I shall certainly answer them." Then He says, "Return, for I have forgiven you and changed your evil deeds into good deeds." He said that they then returned having received forgiveness.

Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 31, #125, Narrated Abu Huraira

The Prophet 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."

Saying Ramadan Kareem

Fatwa by Shaykh Uthaymeen

When the fasting person falls into a sin and he is prohibited from that sin he will say, “Ramadan Kareem”. So what is the ruling concerning this phrase and what is the ruling concerning this behavior?


The ruling concerning this is, this phrase “Ramadan Kareem” is not correct, and the only phrase that should be said is “Ramadan Mubarak” or what resembles that. Because Ramadan is not the one that gives such that it can be called generous (Kareem), rather it is only ALLAH the Exalted that put virtue in it and made it a virtuous month and made the time period for performing (the fasting) a pillar from Islam.
And it is as though the one who said this thinks that due to the nobility of this month it is permissible to commit sins. And that is in opposition to what the people of knowledge have said (for they have said) that the sins are multiplied if they are done during virtuous times or noble places so this is the opposite of what this person has pictured.
And they have said that it is incumbent upon the person to have taqwa of ALLAH the Mighty and Majestic during every time and in every place especially during virtuous times and in noble places. And ALLAH the Mighty and Majestic says “Oh you who believe fasting has been prescribed for you like it was prescribed for those before you that you may obtain taqwa.” So the wisdom behind the obligation of fasting is to gain taqwa of ALLAH the Mighty and Majestic by doing what He has ordered and avoiding what He has prohibited. And it has been established that the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him said “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah Mighty and Majestic has no need that he should leave his food and drink”.
Therefore fasting is worship for ALLAH and cultivation for the soul and a safeguard for it from the prohibitions of ALLAH. And it is not like this one without knowledge has said that due to the nobility of this month and it’s blessing, sinning is allowed in it.

Last Ten Nights of Ramadan

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #2102, Narrated Anas ibn Malik; Ubayy ibn Ka'b

The Prophet was accustomed to engage in private devotion in the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan; but one year he omitted it and he engaged in it for twenty nights the next year.

[Tirmidhi transmitted it, and AbuDawud and Ibn Majah transmitted it from Ubayy ibn Ka'b.]

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #2107, Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar [Ibn Majah transmitted it.]

When the Prophet observed a period of private devotion in the mosque, his bedding was placed for him, or a couch was put down for him, behind the column of repentance.

What Does Not Invalidate the Fast

Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 31, #154, Narrated Abu Huraira

The Prophet 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." Narrated 'Amir bin Rabi'a, "I saw the Prophet cleaning his teeth with Siwak while he was fasting so many times as I can't count." And narrated Abu Huraira, "The Prophet said, 'But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution." The same is narrated by Jabir and Zaid bin Khalid from the Prophet who did not differentiate between a fasting and a nonfasting person in this respect (using Siwak). Aisha said, "The Prophet said, "It (i.e. Siwak) is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking Allah's pleasures." Ata' and Qatada said, "There is no harm in swallowing the resultant saliva."

Recommended to Eat before Fajr

Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #143, Narrated Sahl bin Sad

I used to take my Suhur meals with my family and then hurry up for presenting myself for the (Fajr) prayer with Allah's Apostle.

Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #146, Narrated Anas bin Malik

The Prophet said, "Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it."

Fiqh-us-Sunnah 3.130a

The sunnah would be fulfilled by eating a small or large quantity of food, or even just by drinking a sip of water. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "The pre-dawn meal is blessed, so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray for those who have pre-dawn meals." This is related by Ahmad.

When Ramadan Begins

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #1962, Narrated AbuHurayrah [Tirmidhi transmitted it.]

Allah's Messenger said, "Calculate on the basis of the new moon of Sha'ban when Ramadan begins."