20.1 SAUM

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Fasting is obligatory for adult, sane, and healthy Muslims. Fasting of children is for training but is not obligatory. The sick are allowed to make up for lost days later. Excuse from fasting may be or may not be accompanied by kaffaarat. The wife must get her husband's permission for non-obligatory fasting. Such permission is not needed for the fasting of Ramadhan. If a person deliberately breaks the Ramadhan fast with no valid excuse he must fast two consecutive months for each day. Excessive hunger or thirst that are feared to harm health are valid excuses to break the fast and make up later. If a person eats or drinks in forgetfulness then all they have to do is to complete the day and the day is considered valid. A non-obligatory fast can be broken at any time but must be redone. A guest does not fast non-obligatory fasts except with the permission of the host



Ramadhan is obligatory as explained above. The following are permitted non-obligatory fasting: Mondays and Thursdays, the 9th and 10th of Muharram, 6 days in the month of shawal, 3 days in every lunar month, the day of Arafat for the pilgrim, 9th of Dhil al Hajj, the sanctified months. The following types of fasting are forbidden: fasting of the 2 days of eid al fitr and eid al adh-ha, singling out Friday as a day of fasting, fasting in the second half of the month of sha’abaan, continous fasting, fasting a doubtful day, and purposely planning to fast on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.



Start and end of Ramadhan is by sight of the crescent or by computation. Saum has 3 main pillars: intention and abstinence from food and drink. Its etiquettes are niyyat before fajr, delaying suhuur, hastening iftaar, iftaar on dates and water, avoiding overeating at iftaar and suhuur. Its permitted day acts are: using the miswak, bathing in water, applying kuhl, kissing a spouse, injection of medication, venupuncture, and washing the mouth and nostrils. Its recommended acts are salaat al tarawiih, i’itikaaf, dua at iftaar, charity, providing iftaar for others, joining kindred relations, recitation of the Qur'an, ghusl before salat al fajr, and avoiding back-biting, lying, and obscenities. Its prohibitions of saum are eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. It is nullified by deliberate eating or drinking, use of snuff or tobacco, instilling water until it reaches the ear-drum, excessive madhmadhat, excessive istinshaaq, insanity or loss of consciousness even if temporary, and penetration by any object into the body orifices (alimentary canal, the rectum, or the vagina), deliberate vaginal intercourse or any other sexual act that leads to orgasm, menstruation, post-natal bleeding, and masturbation. It is not nullified by a wet sexual dream, cooling by tepid sponging, use of siwaak, use of toothpaste and toothbrush, and rinsing the mouth. The traveler can choose between saum and iftar but iftaar is preferred. Spontaneous vomiting does not require atonement but induced vomiting does. Use of hormones to delay menstruation and avoid breaking saum is not recommended.



The elderly and patients with chronic or terminal illness are permanently excused from saum. They can choose to feed the poor instead or their heirs can make up their missed saum (qadha) if they die. Travelers, partients with curable illnesses, pregnant or breasfeeding women, women in haidh or nifaas are temporarily excused from saum but they have to make up (qadha al saum) before the next Ramadhan. Kaffaarat by feeding the poor is due if the next Ramadhan comes before the qadha. Saum in haidh or nifaas is invalid. More drinks are taken in hot weather to prevent dehydration and more food is eaten in cold environments to generate heat. Polar regions with long days or long nights follow the suhuur anf iftar times of the nearest temperate region.



Hypoglycemia and dehydration are prevented by prohibition of continuous saum and encouragement of early iftaar and late suhuur. Saum is exempted in physiological stress (haidh, nifaas, old age, illness, pregnancy, and breastfeeding). The following should be avoided: over-eating at iftaar and suhuur, and exposure to high temperatures. The following are encouraged: high fiber diets, adequate fluid and mineral intake, and cooling the body. Diabetics should consult trusted physicians before saum. The following do not nullify saum: drugs applied externally on the skin, eye drops, nose drops (if not swallowed), injections (sub-cutaneous, intra-muscular, and intra-venous), and sub lingual tablets. Elective medical procedure should be delayed until after saum. The following nullify saum: inhalants, nourishing i.v. injections, drugs taken orally or rectally. Saum teaches control of the food appetite and prevents diseases of overnutrition. It prevents sexually-related diseases by teaching control of the sex appetite.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004