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Every Muslim knows fasting in the month of Ramadan is wajib (obligatory) upon us. But have you ever wondered how this ordainment came? In the same way, do you ever wonder how the other pillars of Islam i.e. Salah, Zakaat, Hajj were ordained?

Learning the stories behind the commandments in our deen, is actually a very very interesting thing. It gives you a whole new level of understanding and appreciation alhamdulillahi.

So since Ramadan is just around the corner, here’s a little background on the Fourth Pillar of Islam for general knowledge.

  • Fasting the month of Ramadan was made obligatory (wajib) during the month of Sha’ban, in the second year after the Muslims migrated from Makkah to Madīnah.
  • The ordainment for fasting was in three stages:

The First Stage: The Muslims were ordered to fast on the day of Ashura (10th Muharram).
Narrated ‘Aisha bint Abi Bakr رضي الله عنهما:
Allah’s Apostle ordered the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’, and when fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed, it became optional for one to fast on that day (‘Ashura’)
[Sahih Bukhari – Book #31 : Hadith #219] *There are many more Ahadith in Book 31 regarding this.
[For more details on the Day of Ashura, please see this post : Do You Know?: The Day of ‘Aashoora]

The Second Stage: The Muslims were given the option of either fasting during the month of Ramadan or feeding a poor person for each day they did not fast, with preference for fasting over feeding.

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ
وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ
ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
Observe Saum (fasts) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you are ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know.
[Surah al-Baqarah – 2:184]

The Third Stage: Fasting the month of Ramaḍan became obligatory without choice.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ
وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ
فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا
الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).
So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month,
and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu Akbar; Allah is the Most Great] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.
[Surah al-Baqarah (2): 185].

*Verse 2:184 was abrogated by verse 2:185 and also fasting on the day of Ashura became voluntary.

  • Fasting during the month of Ramadan then became one of the pillars of Islam, and its obligation is of great magnitude. The Quran, Prophetic tradition, and scholarly agreement all testify to the fact that fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory.

Source:

  • Fasting – Ordinances, Wisdoms & Merits, p.07 by Dr. Saleh As-Saleh
  • The Nature of Fasting, p. 06-07 by Taqi ud-din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah

  • http://xahu-writes.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-did-fasting-become-obligatory.html?m=1

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