Islamic Perspectives

Some common mistakes in Ramadan

By Asma bint Shameem

1. Taking Ramadan as a ritual
For many of us Ramadan has lost its spirituality and has become more of a ritual than a form of worship. We fast from dawn to sunset like a zombie just because everyone around us is fasting too. We forget that it’s a time to purify our hearts and our souls from evil... we forget to make du’a, forget to beseech Allah to forgive us and forget to ask Him to save us from the Fire. We do stay away from food and drink but that’s about all. Although the Prophet (pbuh) said: “’Jibreel told me, May Allah rub in dust the nose of the person to whom Ramadan comes and his sins are not forgiven, and I said, Ameen. Then he said, May Allah rub in dust the nose of the person who lives to see his parents grow old, one or both of them, yet he does not enter Paradise (by not serving them) and I said, Ameen. Then he said, May Allah rub in dust the nose of the person in whose presence you are mentioned and he does not send blessings upon you, and I said, Ameen.” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad and others)

2. Too much stress on food and drink
For some people, the entire month of Ramadan revolves around food. They spend the ENTIRE day planning, cooking, shopping and thinking only about food instead of concentrating on Salah, Qur’an and other acts of worship. All they can think of is FOOD. So much so that they turn the month of fasting into a month of feasting. Come Iftar time, their table is a sight to see, with the multitudes and varieties of food, sweets and drinks. They are missing the very purpose of fasting, and thus multiply their greed and desires instead of learning to control them. It is also a kind of waste and extravagance: “..... and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste by extravagance).” (al-A’raf:31)

3. Cooking all day and night
Some sisters, either by their own choice or being forced by their husbands, cook ALL day and ALL night, so that by the end of the day, they are too tired to even pray Isha, let alone pray Taraweeh or Tahajjud or even read Qur’an. This is the month of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness. So turn off that stove and turn on your Iman!

4. Eating too much
Some people stuff themselves at Suhoor until they are about to burst because they think that this way they will not feel hungry during the day. Some people eat at Iftar like there is no tomorrow, trying to make up for the food missed. However, this is completely against the Sunnah. Moderation is the key to everything. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah). Too much food distracts a person from many deeds of obedience and worship, makes him lazy and also makes the heart heedless. It was said to Imam Ahmad: Does a man find any softness and humility in his heart when his stomach is full? He said, I do not think so.

5. Sleeping all day
Some people spend their entire day (or a major part of it) sleeping away their fast. Is this what is really required of us during this noble month? These people also miss the purpose of fasting and are slaves to their desires of comfort and ease. They cannot bear to be awake and face a little hunger or exert a little self-control. For a fasting person to spend most of the day sleeping is nothing but negligence on his part.

6. Wasting time
The month of Ramadan is a precious, precious time, so much so that Allah calls it “ayyamam ma’doodaat” (a fixed number of days). Before we know it, this month of mercy and forgiveness will be over. We should try and spend every moment possible in the worship of Allah so that we can make the most of this blessing. However, there are some of us who waste away their day playing video games, or worse still, watching TV, movies or even listening to music -- trying to obey Allah by DISOBEYING him!

7. Fasting but not giving up evils
Some of us fast but do not give up lying, cursing, fighting, backbiting, etc. and some of us fast but do not give up cheating, stealing, dealing in haram, buying lottery tickets, selling alcohol, etc. and all kinds of impermissible things without realizing that the purpose of fasting is to not just stay away from food and drink but to inculcate piety and fear of Allah: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious” [al-Baqarah 2:183]. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, and ignorance, Allah has no need of him giving up his food and drink.” (Bukhari)

8. Smoking
Smoking is reprehensible in Islam whether during Ramadan or outside of it, as it is an evil, a purposeless act and injurious to health. This includes all kinds of smoking material, e.g., cigars, cigarettes, pipes, sheesha, hookah etc. Allah says, “He allows them as lawful all good and lawful things, and prohibits them as unlawful all evil and unlawful things.” (al-A’raf:157). It is harmful, not only to the one who smokes but also to those around him who inhale the smoke. It is also a means of wasting ones wealth. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “There should be no harming or reciprocating harm.” This is especially true during fasting and smoking invalidates the fast.

9. Skipping Suhoor (pre-dawn food)
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Eat suhoor for in suhoor there is blessing.” (Bukhari, Muslim). He (pbuh) also said, “What differentiates between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is eating suhoor.” (Muslim)

10. Stopping Suhoor at Imsak
Some people stop eating Suhoor 10-15 minutes earlier than the time of Fajr to observe Imsak (start of fasting). Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: This is a kind of bid’ah (innovation) which has no basis in the Sunnah. Rather, the Sunnah is to do the opposite. Allah allows us to eat until dawn: “and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)” (al-Baqarah 2:187). The Prophet (pbuh) said: “... eat and drink until you hear the adhan of Ibn Umm Maktoom, for he does not give the adhan until dawn comes.”
This imsaak, which some of the people do, is an addition to what Allah has prescribed, so it is false. It is a kind of extremism in religion, and the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Those who go to extremes are doomed, those who go to extremes are doomed, those who go to extremes are doomed.” (Muslim)

11. Not fasting if they missed Suhoor
Some people are too scared to fast if they miss suhoor. However, this is a kind of cowardice and love of ease. What is the big deal if you missed a few morsels of food? Its not like you will die. Remember, obedience to Allah supercedes everything.

12. Saying the intention to fast loud or saying a specific du’a
The intention is an action of the heart. We should resolve in our heart that we are going to fast tomorrow. That is all we need. It is not prescribed by the Shari’ah for us to say out loud, “I intend to fast” or “I will fast tomorrow” or some other phrases that have been innovated by some people. Also, there is no specific du’a to be recited at the time of starting the fast in the correct Sunnah. Whatever du’a you may see on some papers or Ramadan calendars, etc. is an innovation.

13. Delaying breaking fast
Some people wait until the adhan finishes or even several minutes after that, just to be on the safe side. However, the Sunnah is to hasten to break the fast which means breaking fast as soon as the adhan starts, right after the Sun has set. ‘Aishah (RA) said: “This is what the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to do. (Muslim). The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The people will continue to be alright so long as they hasten to break the fast.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Determine to the best of your ability, the accuracy of your clock, calendar, etc. and then have tawakkul on Allah and break your fast exactly on time.

14. Eating continuously until the time for Maghrib is up
Some people put so much food in their plates when breaking fast and continue eating, enjoying dessert, drinking tea, etc., and in the process they miss the maghrib prayer. That obviously is not right. The Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) was that once he broke his fast with some dates, he would hasten to the prayer. Once you are done with the prayer, you can always go back and eat more as you wish.

15. Missing the golden chance of having your Du’a accepted
The prayer of the fasting person is guaranteed to be accepted at the time of breaking fast. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Three prayers are not rejected: the prayer of a father, the prayer of a fasting person, and the prayer of a traveller.” (Al-Bayhaqi).
Instead of sitting down and making Du’a at this precious time, some people forego this beautiful chance, and remain too busy frying samosas, talking, setting the food on table, filling their plates and glasses, etc. Think about it... Is food more important than the chance to have your sins forgiven or the fulfillment of your du’as.
16. Fasting but not praying
The fasting of one who does not pray WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. This is because not praying constitutes kufr as the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his giving up prayer.” (Muslim). In other words, prayer is the boundary that keeps one away from kufr. Said the Prophet, “Whoever does not pray Asr, his good deeds will be annulled.” (Bukhari)

17. Fasting and not wearing Hijab
Not wearing the Hijab is a major sin as it is obligatory for Muslim women. (Surah Nur, Surah Ahzab). So fasting and not wearing hijab certainly takes away enormously from the rewards of fasting, even if it does not invalidate it.*

18. Not fasting because of exams or work
Exams or work is NOT a valid excuse allowed by the Shari’ah not to fast. You can do your study and revision at night if it is too hard to do it during the day. Also remember that pleasing and obeying Allah is much more important than good grades. Besides, if you will fulfil your obligations to fast, Allah will make it easy for you and help you in everything you do: “Whosoever fears Allah, He will appoint for him a way out and provide for him from where he does not expect, Allah is Sufficient for whosoever puts his trust in Him.” (Surah at-Talaq:2-3).

19. Mixing fasting and dieting
Do NOT make the mistake of fasting with the intention to diet. That is a big mistake some of us sisters make. Fasting is an act of worship and can only be for the sake and pleasure of Allah alone. Mixing it with the intention of dieting may do away its blessings.

20. Fighting over the Rak’ahs of Taraweeh
There is no specific number of rak’ahs for Taraweeh prayer. It is permissible to do a little or a lot. Both eight and 20 are alright. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “No one should be denounced for praying eleven or twenty-three (rak’ah) because the matter is broader in scope than that, praise be to Allah.”

21. Praying ONLY in the night of the 27th Ramadan
Some people pray ONLY in the night of the 27th day of Ramadan seeking Lailatul-Qadr while neglecting all other odd nights, although the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Seek Lailatul-Qadr among the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (Bukhari, Muslim).

22. Wasting the last part of Ramadan preparing for Eid
Some people waste the entire last  few days of Ramadan preparing for Eid, shopping and frequenting malls, etc. neglecting Ibadah and Lailatul Qadr. although, the Prophet (pbuh) used to strive the hardest during the last ten days of Ramadan in worship (Ahmad, Muslim) and not in shopping. Buy whatever you need for Eid before Ramadan so that you can utilize the time in Ramadan to the maximum. Aishah (RA) said: “When the (last) ten nights used to begin, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would tighten his waist-wrapper (i.e., strive hard in worship or refrain from intimacy with his wives), stay awake at night and wake his family.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

23. Iftar parties
Although inviting each other for breaking fast is something good and encouraged, some people go to extremes with lavish Iftar parties with all sorts of disobedience to Allah, from flirting, mixing of the sexes and hijab-less women, extravagance paying little heed to salah and Taraweeh prayers.
* Hijab is not niqab. Hijab means covering whole body except face and hands. Niqab is an innovation borrowed from other nations - see Al-Albani’s Hijab al-mar’ah al-Muslimah (Ed.).

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2014 on page no. 20

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