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Simply Ramadan. Part 1 - Fasting

During the Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world leave behind their day to day life and enter a spiritual world full of discipline, humbleness and fasting.
The core significance of fasting in Ramadan is not to deprive us of food and drink. Fasting has been gifted to us in order to attain and strengthen our Taqwa.
Taqwa means consciousness in faith, increased virtue, ethical values and morality. It leads us to love all that is good and refrain from all that is considered a sin. It is classified as a state of purity; of the mind, body and soul.
It is mentioned in Hadith that fasting shall protect us from the fire of Hell and the angels will protect us until we break our fast. However, not everyone can fast. Some may have helpless circumstances, where fasting would be difficult or could have an impact on their wellbeing. Allah SWT is not unjust and does not command from us what we cannot achieve.
These are some common exemptions from fasting:

  • Children under the age of adolescence (puberty) are not obliged to fast. This is commonly around the age of 9 years for girls and 15 years for boys
  • Females during their menstruation cycle. It is not permissible for a woman to fast during her cycle
  • People with any form of mental illness are not obligated to fast
  • People in need of regular medication should not fast if their wellbeing could be affected
  • The elderly, or, at least, those who are not able to fast
  • A woman during pregnancy or the feeding period
  • Those who are permanently ill
  • Those who are travelling (there are certain guidelines for this)

There are also some occurrences that do not break the fast, these include:

  • Accidental vomiting
  • Forgetting that you are fasting (as long as you continue as soon as you remember)
  • Brushing your teeth (but the water or paste must not be swallowed or tasted)

However, there are certain forfeits that apply to most of these exemptions. These are known as fidya and kaffarah, which will be looked at in more detail in Part 2.
For now though, it is worth sparing a thought for those who struggle to fast during Ramadan. These individuals are likely to struggle all year round, and they need the help and support of others. So donate to Muslim Aid this Ramadan, or indeed, any time of year, and help us to help those in need.

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