Some Ramadan Riddles

Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon Muhammad, His last Messenger, his household, his companions and all those who follow him till the Last Day. As we welcome this blessed month of Ramadan, here are some riddles to set you off on the right course.

How Do You Know A Lazy Muslim In Ramadan?

He sleeps throughout the night without tahajjud and sleeps after Fajr till sunrise. He misses out on the double reward. The Rasul (sallallahu alayhi wa sallaam) said:

"Make it a point to observe Tahajjud prayer, for it was the practice of the pious gone before you (and it is the means whereby you can find) nearness to your Lord and (seek) expiation for the sins and (find) prevention from evil." (Tirmidhi)

He further said:

"Whoever prays Fajr in congregation, then sits and remembers Allah (makes dhikr) until the sun rises, then prays two raka'ahs, will have a reward like that for Hajj and Umrah, complete, complete, complete." (Tirmidhi)]

And A Strong Muslim?

He attends the prayers in congregation at the masjid and he also has the ability to contain his anger, particularly where family, friends and foes are concerned. The Rasul (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallaam) said:

"If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots, and if they knew the reward of the Zuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time) they would race for it (go early) and if they knew the reward of 'Isha' and Fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl." (Muslim)

Also, he said:

"The strong man is not one who wrestles well but the strong man is one who controls himself when he is in a fit of rage." (Muslim)

How Do You Know A Fasting Tongue?

It is a Muslim tongue that has surrendered to Allaah. It is moist with dhikr (remembrance of Allaah), it does not backbite, its silence is meditation and its waggling is golden advice. Allaah says,

"Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel (an Angel) by him ready (to note it)." (Q50 [Qalam]: 18)

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallaam) said:

"Whoever does not abandon false speech and acting falsely, then Allaah has no need of his abandoning food and drink." (Bukhaari)

Also he said:

"Fasting is a shield, so the one who fasts should avoid obscene speech and ignorant behavior. If someone abuses him or starts to fight with him, he should reply by saying: 'I am fasting. I am fasting'." (Bukhaari)

 Ibn Hajar writes in Fath al-Bari (4/ I 05)]:

The hadeeth means that the fasting person should not respond to the one who abuses him with the same kind of behavior. He should restrain himself by saying: "I am fasting."

And A Rich Muslim?

He gives without remembering, boastful or oppressive. His charity starts from his family, near and far. The Rasul (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallaam) said:

"Procrastination (delay) in repaying debts by a wealthy person is injustice." (Bukhari).

He also said:

 "The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it). One should start giving first to his dependents.... And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help ... Allaah will make him self sufficient. "(Bukhari)

Then he said:

 "... The three whom Allaah hates are an old man who commits fornication, a poor man who is proud, and a rich man who is oppressive." (Tirmidhi)

How Would You Know If You Caught Laylatul Qadr?

You would have consciously diligently observed without fail the last 10 days of Ramadan. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallaam) said: Seek it (Laylat al-Qadr) in the last ten days of Ramadan. (Abu Dawud) He also said:

"Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain AllaAh's rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven." (Bukhari)

Then he told his wife Aisha what prayers to say on Laylat al-Qadr if she happened on the night:

"O Allaah, You are forgiving and loves forgiveness, so forgive me." (Ahmad)

 [Adapted from Muslim Message; Ramadan 1427AH]

May Allaah grant us the best of Ramadan and reward us with His A1- Janaah al-Firdaus! Ramadan Mubaarak!

How to Determine the Beginning of Ramadan

Every year, towards the start of Ramadan, Muslim communities are plunged into needless confusion over the issue of determination of the start of the blessed month. In some cases, that

may further lead to argument and division within the community based prevalent leanings of each section. In view of this unfortunate state of affairs, it is useful for us to acquaint ourselves with the authentic Islamic verdicts about crescent-sighting and related issues.

Sighting or Calculation?

The first issue is the method of determining the beginning of the month. Basically, the start of

Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the crescent-moon (hilaal). The Prophet (sallallahualayhi wa salam) said:

 "Fast at its sighting and terminate the fast at its sighting." (Bukhari, Muslim).

This hadeeth is an explicit proof that the month is based on sighting, not on calculation. The reasoning of the proponents of calculation is hinged on two main arguments:

I) The saying of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam):

"Do not fast until you see the crescent moon and do not break the fast until you have seen the crescent moon but if conditions are overcast  for you, then enumerate for it." (Bukhari)

The proponents of calculation cite the statement, "then enumerate for it" as evidence for the permissibility of calculation. This reasoning, however, is unacceptable on two counts:

Firstly, assuming that "enumerate" in' the above hadeeth is in fact referring to calculation, the hadeeth would only indicate, the permissibility of calculations in overcast conditions.

Secondly, the meaning of "enumerate" is clarified by another narration of the hadeeth, also reported by Bukhari, as well as by Tirrnidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban and al- Tayalisi,

"Then complete the number of [days of] Sha'ban as thirty." [Nasb al-Rayah,2/437-8]

This hadeeth clarifies beyond doubt that what is meant by "enumerate" in the first narration

Is to count thirty days, for the first narration is general and imprecise (mujmal), whereas the second is explicit (mubayyan), clarifying the imprecision in the first. lbn Rushd says:

"It is obligatory to refer the mujmal to the mubayyan, and this is the way of the scholars of usul, (the foundation) without any disagreement." [Bidayat al-Mujtahid, 1/284]

2) The saying of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam):

"We are an unlettered nation; we neither write nor calculate. The month is so-much and so-much (i.e. sometimes 29 days. Sometimes 30)" (Bukhari).

The proponents of calculations argue that the only reason calculations were not used by the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was that people at that time were illiterate and uneducated. Thus, they reason that since we are now educated and advanced in astronomy, there is no harm in determining the start of Ramadan purely by calculations.

The refutation of this reasoning is as follows: It is obvious that the Prophetic statement, "We neither write nor calculate" is not meant literally, for it has been established that numerous Companions did in fact write, and in the Farewell Pilgrimage, when a Yemeni man named Abu Shah asked for a written copy of the sermon, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) told people,

"Write for Abu Shah." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Also, Bukhari has reported that a census-like enumeration of the Muslim population was carried out in Medina, in which the total number of Muslims came to 1,500. Furthermore, we know that the Arabs at the time used to engage in trade, which inevitably requires calculation, and also that astronomical knowledge, such as recognition of the phases of the moon, and its waxing and waning, were present even in that time.

In reality, the hadeeth is merely stating a characteristic of this ummah, namely that their means for determining the month are simple, not requiring sophisticated science or education. Islaam is a universal religion, and its regulations are meant to be equally accessible to all people, scientists as well as non-scientists. The progress of astronomy cannot abrogate the laws of Islaam for the religion was completed and perfected in the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself. As further reinforcement of the invalidity of basing the Islamic month purely on calculation, it is worth noting that all of the four juristic schools of thought, are unanimous on this point. The Hanafi scholar, AI-Haskafi says, in "al-Durr a1-Mukhtar", "The word of forecasters carries no weight, even if they are Islamically upright, according to the [Hanafi] madhhab." "Sharh al-Ghayah" states the same of the Hanbali  madhhab. Sheikh Khalil, the Maliki, states in his "Mukhtasar", that the month is not established by the saying of an astronomer.  AI-Ardabili, the Shafi'i scholar states in "AI-AmIa""[Fasting] does not become obligatory by knowledge of the phases of the moon."

By how many people?

Having established 'that the month's start is determined by moon sighting, we turn now to the issue of how many people must see the crescent in order for fasting to be obligatory. According to some scholars if the sky is clear, the testimony of at least two upright Muslim men, or one man and two women, is sufficient to establish the start of Ramadan [Ibn 'Abidin, "Daw' al- Shams", 2/49], but if the sky is cloudy then the testimony of a single, upright person will be accepted. [Sarakhsi, "AI-Mabsut" 2/139]. This is the prevalent opinion of the Hanafees. There are also opinions that the testimony of no fewer than two is upright Muslims is necessary to establish the start of Ramadan. [Ibn Rushd, "Bidayat al-Mujtahid", 1/286] And yet another on the testimony of a single upright Muslim man as being sufficient for the start of Ramadan. [Nawawi AI-Minhaj],

The Hanbalis argue that "{Fasting of Ramadan] is obligatory at the sighting of the crescent-moon. If it is not seen on 'the night [before] the 30th of Sha'ban, in spite of the sky being clear, they shall not fast  but if clouds or dust obscure [the sky] it is obligatory to fast [the next day] as a precaution.

 ... The report of a sane, adult, upright [Muslim] is accepted [in sighting], even if it be a woman, and even if the wording of testimony is not used:"" "(At-Muntaha)

The differences above arise from giving priority to different narrations on the matter, based on factors relating to the authenticity of the reports and on different methodologies of usul in reconciling different narrations. The narrations are:

i) The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

 "Fast at its sighting, and terminate fasting at its sighting. But, if [conditions] are overcast for you, then complete thirty [days]. But, if two witnesses testify then fast and terminate fasting [as the case may be]." (Abu Dawud)

ii) Once, a Bedouin came to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and said:

"I saw the that crescent-moon tonight." The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) asked him, "Do you testify that there is no god but AIlah, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger?" He said, ''Yes.'' The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "O Bilal! Make adhan amongst the people, for they should fast tomorrow." (Tirmidhi)

iii) Abu Dawud also reported that people were in the last day of Ramadan, when two Bedouins Stood up and testified to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) that they had seen the crescent-moon, whereupon the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) ordered people to break their fast.

 Is a sighting in one area binding on Muslims in other areas?

This is a point on which scholars have differed. According to the Shafi'i school, the sighting is not binding beyond 81 km, as stated by both Rafi'i and Nawawi. The authentic view of the madhhab is that it is binding on a strip of thickness 81km in either direction of the place of the sighting. This strip extends from the North Pole to the South Pole. The verdicts in the standard classical references for the Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali schools state that one sighting is binding on the whole world. [See "Fath al-Qadir'', "Mukhtasar Khalil" and "al-Mughni" respectively.]

However, the Maliki scholar, Ibn Rushd has cited consensus of the scholars that the obligation of fasting based on a sighting in another area is not observed for places which are very distant from one another, such as Spain and Arabia. ["Bidayat al-Mujtahid", I/288] This verdict was also explicitly stated by the Hanafi scholars al-Kasani, al-Zayla'i and al-Kashmiri. Sheikh Muhammad Burhanuddin Sanbheli says, "Contemporary scholars in general have gone by [the view of different sightings for] different rising-places [of the moon]." [Qadaya Fiqhiyyah Mu'asarah, p. 94]

The primary evidence for a sighting not being binding on distant places is the hadith narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasa'i, in which Kurayb traveled to Syria and encountered the start of Ramadan there on a Friday. When he returned to Medina, he informed Ibn 'Abbas that he had seen the crescent-moon on the night of Friday, and that the people in Syria, including Mu'awiyah the governor, had fasted on Friday. Ibn 'Abbas replied that they (in Medina) had seen the crescent moon on Saturday, and that they would not stop fasting until they either saw it again, or had completed thirty days. Kurayb asked, "Will you not be sufficed with the sighting of Mu'awiyah?" Ibn 'Abbas replied, "No, that is how the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) commanded us."

The hadith is quite clear in this respect, and although it does not state the limit beyond which a sighting is not binding, this latter issue becomes a matter of ijtihad for the scholars. Rational evidence which supports this view is that just as Muslims around the globe will not pray Zuhr simultaneously, rather each area will pray based on their perspective on the sun, similarly, it is not necessary for them all to start and end fasting simultaneously.

Zayla'i reports, in his commentary on "Kanz al-Daqa'iq", that Abu Musa, a Hanafi jurist, was asked by some Muslims in Alexandria about someone who climbed the minaret, and could therefore see the sun for a long time after it had [apparently] set for the people below: is it permissible for him to break his fast? The reply was, "No, although it is permissible for the people below, for each is held responsible based on his own circumstances."

As for the argument that following a single sighting worldwide is in the interests of unity, this is weak, for we have seen already that the Pious Predecessors themselves differed about the start and end of Ramadan, and they are the best of generations. This difference did not cause disunity amongst them, and so there is no reason why it should for us.

Rather, the disunity we see today arises from other causes, such as ignorance, intolerance and fanaticism. Furthermore, it is not practically possible for Ramadan or 'Id to coincide exactly for all the Muslims, due to the fact that day and night occur at different times around the globe


The Right Age for A Child to Fast

As the month of Ramadan is ushered in, the entire atmosphere of the Muslim community, this includes our little community. Most times our young children also want to savour the communality that comes with the spirit of Ramadan. For most parents, however, the tough job is determining when the child begins to fast.

Generally, fasting is not obligatory for young children, until they reach the age of adolescence, because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

"The pens have been lifted from three: from one who has lost his mind until he comes back to his senses, from one who is sleeping until he wakes up, and from a child until he reaches the age of adolescence." (Saheeh Abi Dawood).

Nevertheless, children should be told to fast so that they can get used to it, and because the good deeds that they do will be recorded for them.

 The age at which parents should start to teach their children to fast is the age at which they are able to fast, which will vary according to each child's physical makeup. Some scholars have defined this as being ten years of age. AI-Kharqi said: When a child is ten years old and is able to fast, he should start to do so.

Ibn Qudaamah said: This means that he should be made to fast and told to do so. And he should be smacked if he does not do it, so as to train him and make him get used to it, just as he should be made to pray and told to do it.

Among those who were of the view that a child should be told to fast when he becomes able to do it were 'Ata', al-Hasan, Ibn Sireen, al-Zuhri, Qataadah and al- Shaafa'i. AI-Awzaa'i said: If he is able to fast for three consecutive days without interruption and without becoming weak, then he should be made to fast Ramadaan. Ishaaq said: When (a child) reaches the age of twelve, I think that he should be made to fast so that he gets used to it.

The age of ten is more likely, because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) enjoined, and smacking children for not praying at this age and regarding fasting as being like prayer is better, because they are close to one another, and because they are both physical actions that are pillars of Islam. But fasting is harder, so attention should be paid to when the child becomes able for it, because some may be able to pray who are not yet able to fast." (AI-Mughni)

This is what the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) did with their children; they would tell those who were able to fast to do so, and if one of them wept because of hunger, they would give him a toy to distract him, but it is not permissible to force them to fast if it will harm them in cases of physical weakness or sickness.

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen (RAH) said:

''A young child should not be forced to fast until he has reached the age of adolescence, but he may be told to fast if he is able to do it, so that he may get used to it and it will be easier for him after he reaches puberty. The children Sahaabah, who are the best of this ummah, used to make their children fast when they were young." (Majmoo' Fataawa al- ShaykhIbn 'Uthaymeen)

And the Shaykh (RAH) was asked:

"My young son insists on fasting Ramadan even though fasting is harmful for him because he is so young and his health is not good. Should I use force with him to make him break his fast?" He replied: "If he is young and has not yet reached puberty, he is not obliged to fast, but if he is able to do it without hardship, then he should be told to do so. The sahaabah used to make their children fast, and if the younger ones cried they would give them toys to distract them. But if it is proven that it is harmful to him, then he should be stopped from fasting. If Allaah has forbidden us to give youngsters their wealth if there is the fear that they may abuse it, then it is more appropriate that they be stopped from doing something if there is the fear of physical harm. But that should not be done by force, because that is not appropriate in raising children." (Majmoo' Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen)

Secondly: The parents can encourage their children to fast by giving them a gift each day, or by way exploiting the spirit of competition between them and their peers or those who are younger than them. They can encourage them to pray by taking them to pray in the mosques, especially if they go out with their father and pray in different mosques each day. They can also encourage by rewarding them for that, whether that is by praising them or by taking them out on trips sometimes, or buying things that they like, etc.

Unfortunately some fathers and mothers fall far short in encouraging their children, and there are even some who stop their children doing these acts of worship. Some of these fathers and mothers think that mercy and compassion mean not making their children fast or pray. This is completely mistaken according to both the shari’i point of view and educational wisdom.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al- 'Uthaymeen (RAH) said:

“Allaah has enjoined fasting upon every Muslim who is accountable, able to do it and not travelling. As for young children who have not yet reached the ageof puberty, fasting is not obligatory for them, because the Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa sallam) said:

"The pen has been lifted from three"

and he mentioned young children until they reach puberty. But the child's guardian must tell him to fast if he reaches an age where he is able to do so, because that comes under the heading of training him to implement the pillars of Islaam.

We see some people leaving their children alone and not telling them to pray or fast, but this is wrong, and he (the parent) will be responsible for that before Allaah. They say that they do not make their children fast out of kindness and compassion towards them, but in fact the one who is truly kind and compassionate towards his child is the one who trains him to acquire good characteristics and to do righteous deeds, not the one who refrains from disciplining and training him in a beneficial manner." (Majmoo' Fataawa al- ShaykhIbn 'Uthaymeen)

Thirdly: The parents can fill their children's time with reading Qur'aan and memorizing a small portion each day, reading books that are suited' to their level, letting them listen to tapes which combine useful content with fun, and bringing them video tapes that are useful for them. Time can be set aside each day for children to watch it and benefit from them.


We ask Allaah to help us to raise our children well, to make them love worship, and to help us to fulfill our duties towards them. And Allaah knows best.

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