All Muslims must fast in the month of Ramadan unless they are traveling or ill. During Ramadan, Muslims hear no evil, speak no evil and worship Allah.
Ramadan comes but once a year and it is a time when the Muslim must live the life that was dictated by the Quran and the sunnah (ways of the prophet). It's said that Allah needs nothing from the Muslim who fasts, but speaks and hears evil words during this very significant month in Islamic culture.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet Mohammad, (peace and blessings be upon him*) explained, "Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech." [Bukhari and others]
Intention of the Muslim Fasting in Ramadan
At the start of Ramadan, all Muslims must begin by silently reiterating their intention to fast the entire month of Ramadan. This is done in the heart, not verbally. It's said that it's sufficient to reiterate the intention to fast at the beginning of the month; it's not necessary to make the intention daily. The mere act of beginning to fast is an act upon the intention to complete the requisite Ramadan fast, which occurs from dawn to dusk.
There are Blessings in the Suhoor for Muslims Fasting
It is sunnah (usual practice in Islam) to have suhoor (light meal before beginning the fast) and there are many blessings at this time. The suhoor, which should be very light, will help the Muslim to handle the fast with greater ease. There are many hadiths on the blessings of the suhoor.
A companion said, "I entered upon the Prophet and he was taking the Suhoor and he said: "It is a blessing which Allah has given to you, so do not leave it". [Ahmad and an-Nasa'i; Sahih].
Why should a Muslim fasting partake of suhoor? It's said that Allah forgives the person eating suhoor and sends his mercy upon them. Muslims also believe that the angels will ask Allah to pardon the person eating suhoor and even the eating of a date or a sip of water could be counted as suhoor.
What is Forbidden While a Muslim is Fasting?
As stated above, the Muslim fasting must abstain from all bad talk and even listing to bad talk. This means that the television should not be watched except for news and shows on Islam. For even watching a most religious show may have commercials that have haram (forbidden) songs or deeds.
It is best to spend the time worshiping Allah with zikr (praise), reading Quran, doing voluntary prayers and doing good deeds. Charity given while fasting will bring great rewards to the Muslim fasting. The other things forbidden while fasting is intercourse, lying, backbiting and cursing. No food or drink is allowed or is smoking.
If the Muslim fasting is in dire need of an inhaler to breathe with, this is permissible. It's believed that acts such as going to the dentist should be postponed unless an emergency. Injections are allowed if the fasting Muslim is ill or requires medical attention. Keep in mind that Muslims are not required to fast if they feel that they are too ill to do so.
Study the Quran While Muslim is Fasting in Ramadan
It's said that one of the best deeds a Muslim can do during Ramadan is to recite the Quran. Most Muslims fasting will endeavor to read the entire Quran over and over during the month of Ramadan. It is forbidden to read the Quran in less than three days during other times of the year, but in Ramadan, this does not apply. Many scholars and religious people recited the Quran daily during the month of Ramadan, for it's believed that every word read in the Quran is equal to ten good deeds.
Breaking the Fast in the Month of Ramadan
The fast was done humbly and the Muslim fasting sought the pleasure of Allah and his mercy. So before breaking the fast, one must make a dua (supplication) and ask for what is needed. Muslims believe that the dua of a fasting person is granted, as promised by Allah. When a dua is granted, it could be granted in the next life or it may involve the removal of a bad event that was previously part of the Muslim's destiny.
According to Abu Huraira, the Messenger of Allah said, "The supplications of three groups of peoples are not rejected; the du'aa (Supplication) of the fasting person when he is breaking his fast, the du'aa of the just Imam and the du'aa of the oppressed." [Tirmidhee, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibbaan]
After making the dua, one must wait for the adhan (call to prayer) to be called and then break the fast with some dates) and some water. If no dates are available then just water.
The Muslim fasting should say before breaking the fast, "Allahumma laka sumtu wa 'ala ridhqika aftartu" (O Allah! For You did I fast and with Your bounties did I break the fast.). Then after finished eating the food, the Muslim fasting should say, 'The thirst has gone and the veins have recovered and the blessing is established if Allah wills.' [This translates into] 'Dhahaba dhamaa'a wabtallat al-urooq wa thabatal ajr inshaa'allaah.'" [Ahmad, Al-Baihaaqee]
Praying the Late Night Prayers
It is sunnah to pray the late night prayers (taraweeh) in congregation for men; this is voluntary for women. The blessings that are obtained from praying the taraweeh prayers are believed to be significant. Abu Hurayrah stated that, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him*) said, "Whoever prays at night in Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Praying taraweeh prayers and then later in the night many Muslims fasting will pray Qiyam prayers which is prayed after midnight. In the last ten days of Ramadan, Mecca and Medina have Qiyam prayers televised. It is a time of great reward to participate in all prayers in the month of Ramadan.
*Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
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