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By: Saidu Abdullahi

In Islam there are three type of fasting namely: The voluntary fasting, the desirable fasting and the obligatory fasting (Which comes during the month of Ramadan).
There are also forbidden days to engage in fasting such as on Sallah (Eidul-Fitr); fasting on Tashreeq days which is 2nd, 3rd and 4th days of Eidul – Adha and finally a wife undertaking a fast without prior approval of the husband.

The days for desirable fasting are numerous and include among others: Fasting on Mondays and Thursday, on the day of Arafat, Months of Regah, Dhul Qidah, Dhul Hijjah, six days during the month of shawwal, etc. However, the main emphasis of this article is on the fasting in the month of Ramadan which is compulsory on all Muslims. “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may ward off evil” Al. Bagarah 2:183.

Ramadan is the month of fasting in Islam. Fasting in the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, is one of the factions, Allah does not care for his abstaining from eating and drinking. As pointed out earlier, fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory upon every Muslim, male or female, who fulfils the following conditions:

a.  To be mentally and physically fit, which means to be sane and able.

b. To be of full age, the age of puberty and discretion, this is normally about fourteen (14), Children under this age bracket should be encouraged to fast.

c. To be resident, not to be travelling (on a journey of about 5omiles or more)

d.                  In case of women, to be fee from menses and post-birth bleeding.

Those exempt from fasting include:

a.                  The Insane.

b.                  Children under   the  age of puberty.

c.                   The elderly          and the chronically ill     for   whom fasting is unbearable. A person in this category, is required to feed one poor person for everyday he does not fast in Ramadan.

d.                  Pregnant women and nursing mothers for fear that fasting may endanger their live or health or those of their fetuses of baby. According to the Maliki school, she is treated like those in category “c” above. According to Abu Hanifah, she should make up for the days they do not fast, later.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is usually herald by sighting the crescent. According to majority of scholars, it does not matter, if the new moon has been sighted in different locations. In other words, after the new moon is seen anywhere in the world it becomes obligatory for all Muslims to begins fasting. Closing related to the commencement of fasting is the intention to embark or commence the fasting for in Islam, “Actions are judged according to intentions behind them, and for everyone is what he intended”. The intention must therefore be made before dusk. Taking the pre-dawn meal (Sahwr) is a Blessing. Every Muslim is expected to take the meal even if with a mouthful of water.

The two essential elements or pillars of the fast must be fulfilled for it to be valid and acceptable. These are: abstaining from those acts that break the fast and then strictly observe the fast until nightfall.

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