Living long enough to witness the month of Ramadan and to be able to fast in it is indeed a great bounty from Allaah Almighty. Our righteous Salaf (predecessors), may Allaah be pleased with them, used to supplicate to Allaah during the six months prior to Ramadan to allow them to live long enough to reach it - and six months after it that Allaah accept their good deeds therein. Amongst their supplications when the month of Rajab arrived was: “O our Lord bless the month of Rajab and Sha’baan for us and allow us to live long enough to reach Ramadan”. They, may Allaah be pleased with them, also used to say: “O my lord, allow me to live long enough to reach Ramadan and accept (my good deeds therein) from me”.
The Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, used to give glad tidings to his Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, with the arrival of Ramadan - and why not? This is the month that Allaah opens the gates of Paradise and seals the gates of the Hellfire. This is the month that Allaah ordained fasting for the Muslims just as He ordained it for the nations before them.
Fasting made easy:
From the mercy and kindness of Allaah is that He made fasting for the Muslim Nation easier than the nations before them in many ways, amongst which is that fasting is to be observed during the daytime only during the month of Ramadan.
Allaah Says (what means): “...And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night].”[Quran 2: 187]
The Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, calls for immediately breaking the fast as soon as the sun sets, and to delay the Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) to the last moment before Fajr (dawn). The Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, used to immediately break their fast at sunset and delay their Suhoor to the last possible moment that is permissible.
When one looks at the rulings of fasting, it becomes very clear how Allaah made things easy for us. Terminating fasting or being exempted from it is allowed for seven categories of people: The traveller, the sick, the pregnant woman, the breast-feeding mother, the old, those who cannot continue because of severe hunger or thirst and those who are forced not to fast.
If the pregnant woman fears harm for herself or her baby, she is allowed to break her fast and makes it up later, this is also the case for the breast-feeding mother. The elderly and those suffering from chronicle sickness are exempted from fasting but should feed the hungry with a stipulated measure of food. If they cannot afford or are unable to do so then they are to give as much food to the hungry as they can. Failing to do that, they are exempted from giving anything.
Other things that make fasting easy are the permissibility of using eye or eardrops as well as mascara and perfume.
Also, drawing small amounts of blood out of veins, having a nosebleed, using vaccinations, suppositories, shots, or drops that have no nutritional value will not affect fasting in any way.
In addition, tasting food while cooking - provided that it doesn’t enter the stomach, inhaling medication nasally for asthma or any other ailment and cleaning your teeth with toothpaste are all permissible for the fasting person.
Among the rulings related to fasting that must be known is when a child is to be ordered to fast. Parents or guardians are entrusted by Allaah with children, the Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, said: “All of you are guardians and all of you will be questioned about your household.” [Al-Bukhaari]
For this reason it is necessary for the parent or guardian to encourage the child and instil faith in his heart as well as the feeling of responsibility towards his Lord. The Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, has guided us to order our children to perform prayer at the age of seven to train them to bear the responsibility of worship.
Muslim scholars, may Allaah have mercy upon them, have mentioned that when a child reaches ten years of age and his health permits him to do so, he should fast. The evidence they use to justify this is the command of the Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, to hit the child of that age if he doesn’t perform prayer. They deem fasting and prayer as close or even equal acts of worship in terms of magnitude and importance. The Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, used to make their children fast. If they would cry out of thirst or hunger then they would keep them distracted by playing with them. This was to instil the importance of fasting in their hearts as well as preparing them for it in later life.
Among the rulings of fasting for women is that they must start fasting as soon as the blood stops from their menstrual period. If the period stops in the evening, then they must fast the following day. They must have the intention to fast as well as actually fasting the following day – even if they do not purify their body by performing Ghusl (ritual bath) until after the Fajr time. This is the same for women in post-natal period. As soon as the post-natal bleeding stops, women are to immediately wash and resume praying and fasting. If a woman coming out of post-natal or menstrual period purifies herself and later notices a discharge of yellowish fluid, then she should not take that as a cause for concern; rather, she should continue to pray and fast. Similarly, if a recently-pregnant woman notices a discharge of blood after having purified herself then she should be aware that this is not a menstrual period; rather it is simply a case of rotted blood. Therefore, she should continue to fast and pray and ask Allaah to protect, cure and assist her as well as to provide her with righteous children from His Grace and Generosity.
The Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, swore that no month comes to the believers better than the month of Ramadan. This is the reason behind the intense competition between people in performing acts of worship such as prayer, spending in charity, reading the Quran and supplicating to Allaah as well making Thikr (mentioning of Allaah).
The Prophet, Peace & Blessings be Upon Him, said:‘…Fasting is a protection.’[Al-Bukhaari] This means that it prevents you from committing sins and misdemeanours such as cursing, backbiting and lying, because when the believers fast, their ears, eyes and tongues fast as well as their stomachs.
Traps of Satan:
Unfortunately, Satan worked on the people to spoil the evenings of those who obey him by alluring them to make their evenings and nights consist of idle games and meaningless pursuits. He fooled the people into taking the Suhoor meal early – which is in direct contradiction to the Sunnah. He also beautified the act of not praying the Fajr prayer at its due time and the people fell into this trap. All of this is due to the ignorance of the glory and virtues of this month and the indifference to the fact that this is a month of worship and obedience to Allaah. The dead people in their graves wish that Allaah extended their lives so that they would fill their hours and their free time with that which pleases Allaah, things for which He would generously reward.
A group of people spoiled the month of Ramadan for themselves when they chose to make it a month of sleeping, cooking and consuming the very best types of food and drink. They made the nights of Ramadan consist of idle-games and frivolities. Corruption spread and the people became engrossed with all the things that keep one far away from remembering Allaah.
Ramadan is a month of worship, so we must receive it with repentance to Allaah. We have to perform more righteous deeds therein such as reciting the Quran, performing optional prayers, abundantly mentioning Allaah, giving in charity, visiting your relatives and keeping good relations with them so that you may gain the forgiveness and the mercy of Allaah.