6- Having Iftaar:
* It is recommended to break the fast without delay when the due time arrives. This is in compliance with the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and in contradiction to the Jews and Christians who used to delay this meal until the appearance of the stars. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "People will continue to be upon goodness as long as they hasten to break the fast." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] In another narration, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "My Ummah will remain adherent to my Sunnah as long as they do not delay the Iftaar until the appearance of the stars." [Ibn Hibbaan]
* Breaking the fast before performing the Maghrib (sunset) Prayer. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to break the fast before performing the prayer (of Maghrib)." [Abu Daawood: Hasan]
* Breaking the fast with some dates: Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would break his fast with some ripe dates before he went to [the Maghrib] prayer. If he did not find ripe dates, he would eat dried dates; if he did not find any, he would take a few sips of water." [Abu Daawood]
* What one should say upon breaking the fast. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "The fasting person has an answered supplication when he breaks his fast." [Ibn Maajah] Upon breaking the fast, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to supplicate saying: "The thirst has gone, the veins are wet and, Allah willing, the reward is confirmed." [Abu Daawood]
7- What nullifies fasting:
* Intentional eating and drinking: This applies to the one who does so consciously. However, if a person eats or drinks forgetfully, his fasting is still valid. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "Whoever forgets he is fasting, and eats or drinks is to complete his fasting, as it is Allah Who fed him and gave him something to drink." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others]
* Intentional vomiting: It is expelling what is in one's stomach through the mouth. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "Whoever is overcome by vomiting is not to make up for the day. Whoever vomits intentionally must make up for the day." [Abu Daawood] Unintentional vomiting does not nullify fasting.
* Sexual intercourse: When a person who is required to fast under Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation) has sexual intercourse during the daytime of Ramadan, he is liable to a serious expiation: freeing a slave, fasting two consecutive months or feeding sixty poor persons.
* Injections containing nourishment: These injections are meant to give nourishment intravenously so that it reaches the intestines, with the intention of nourishing the sick person. This type of injection nullifies fasting.
* Menstruation and post-partum bleeding: Even if such bleeding begins just before sunset, the fast of that day is rendered invalid. A woman in this case will have to fast a day later for every day (or part of the day) that she missed.
* Ejaculation: When one releases semen (or sexual discharge in case of a woman) because of masturbation, touching, kissing, embracing, and so on, this nullifies fasting. Having a wet-dream, however, does not nullify fasting because it is beyond one's will.
* Blood transfusion: When a fasting person bleeds and needs blood transfusion, this nullifies fasting.
8- Making up fasts:
It is recommended to hasten to make up for the missed days without delay. However, it is not obligatory to fast the missed days consecutively. Scholars unanimously agree that when a person dies while he has missed prayers, it is not prescribed to pray on his behalf. Likewise, whoever is unable to fast during his life, no one should fast on his behalf. Rather, he is required to feed a poor person for each day. Whoever dies while he is liable for missed fasting, one of his relatives, male or female, who is entitled to inherit him, should fast on his behalf. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "Whoever died and ought to have fasted (the missed days of Ramadan), one of his relatives, male or female, who is entitled to inherit him should fast on his behalf." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
9- Fasting without praying:
Whoever observes fasting while abandoning the prayers, has abandoned the most important pillar of Islam, next to testifying to the Oneness of Allah. His fasting will not benefit him as long as he is in this state. Prayer is the cornerstone on which Islam is based and the one who does not perform the prayer is judged as an apostate. Moreover, the deeds of the apostate are not accepted. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "The pact between us and them is prayer, so whoever abandons it is a disbeliever." [Ahmad]
10- The voluntary night prayer (Taraaweeh):
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, performed the voluntary night prayer during Ramadan in congregation, but he left performing it in congregation for fear of it becoming an obligation and thus Muslims would not be able to fulfill it. It is eight Rak‘ahs other than the Witr Prayer. ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said,"The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not (ever) observe more than eleven Rak‘ahs (of voluntary night prayers) in Ramadan or any other month." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
During the era of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, he revived this Sunnah and gathered people to perform eleven Rak‘ahs in congregation. During his time, they performed 23 Rak‘ahs. After the death of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, they performed 39 Rak‘ahs. In the two Holy Mosques, they perform 23 Rak‘ahs, given the opinion of the three Imaams and others.
Nowadays, Muslims perform this prayer with a quick recitation, and hasty bowing and prostration. This actually makes the prayer defective, removes humbleness and it could turn it invalid in some cases.
11- Zakatu Al-Fitr:
It is obligatory for Muslims, slave and free, male and female, young and old. Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, made Zakatu Al-Fitr obligatory for people after Ramadan." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
It amounts to one Saa’ (almost 3kg) of the common food in a certain place, what one possesses in excess of one's need as well as the need of his family for one day and night.
The time of giving: It should be given on the day of ‘Eed, before the prayer. It is also permissible to give it a day or two before the ‘Eed. However, it is impermissible to delay it after the day of ‘Eed.
Prophetic Guidelines on Fasting - I