Friday, August 06, 2010

Fasting preparations -- part two

Coincidentally the office invited a speaker from the Islamic Cultural Center (the place where I recently went to observe Friday prayers at their mosque, see my April 17, 2010 post) to give an hour-long presentation on Ramadan. It turns out while he was dressed like a Qatari he was actually born in the UK so spoke excellent English. I think he was of Pakistani descent.

He did not dwell too much on fasting, but did remark that dates were the common way to end the fast and noted the timing of various meals. Because it is summer and the sun rises early you have to eat your "morning" meal around 3am. 3am?! Well, okay, I suppose I can do that. I'll be more fortunate than Muslims because after I had this meal I will just go back to bed, Muslims have to pray. I'll have to think about how to work that out, I'll probably just keep a small plate of dates and some water or something by my bed for that 3 AM meal.

I've also taken an opportunity to review some of the hadiths, more specifically the Al-Bukhari Hadiths, a set of hadiths widely accepted by Muslims. Of the around 2200 hadiths there are around 50 of them in a chapter called "The Book of As-Saum” (As-Saum means The Fasting). Many of them are reward-based ones regarding heaven and so forth, mentioning how people who fast will go to Paradise etc. but here are the more day-to-day requirements mentioned in the hadiths:

• Avoid sexual relations with your wife while fasting (not sure why it is just wife and not spouse), because you're not fasting during the evening it's okay then.
o In fact it seems to emphasize that refraining from sexual relations with your wife during evenings is not a good thing so people should not think it is "better" to avoid sexual relations completely during the month of Ramadan. This is mentioned about three or four times. It is also noted that the Prophet Mohammed would visit his wives during Ramadan.
o It also notes that the Prophet used to embrace or kiss his wives while he was fasting during the day, so I guess that's okay.
o If you have sexual relations while fasting (not exactly something you can accidentally do I guess) you should either feed 60 poor people, free a slave, or fast for two successive months instead of one. That is if you can afford to do any of it. In one instance the man who broke the rules was so poor that his "punishment" was that the Prophet gave him a basket of dates and told him to feed his family with it.
• if somebody fights with you or abuses you, you should it say to them twice that you're fasting
• if you cannot observe the Moon to determine when Ramadan ends because the sky is overcast then regard the month to be 30 days [because it is a lunar month sometimes it is 29 days]
• Allah will not accept your fasting if you do not give up lying, acting on those lies, and evil actions
• you should not fast for a day or two ahead of Ramadan unless you have a habit of fasting for other reasons
• some of the Prophet's companions, if they were sleeping when nightfall came and thus missed the breaking of the fast, would not eat at all that evening and of course fast all the next day. The Prophet informed them they did not have to do that and could still eat during the night.
• Fast from the first light of dawn appears to you and is distinct from the darkness of night (which I guess right now is around 3:30 in the morning)
• if you eat or drink something forgetfully just continue fasting as usual, it does not negate your fast for that day
• letting out blood medically while fasting is okay
• you can fast while traveling if you wish but you do not have to
• you should not fast if it would harm yourself needlessly (i.e. you are sick, or weak, or getting heat stroke from being out in the sun)
• if someone has died during Ramadan and thus has missed some days of fasting then his guardians should observe the fast on his behalf (not sure if this means extra days of fasting for them if they are already fasting themselves)
• numerous hadiths mention that people break their fast with something called Sawiq mixed with water. I don't know what that is, I'll have to ask someone.
• If you break the fast too early you should try to make up the extra day after Ramadan
• apparently there are other holy days where Muslims fast for a day such as the day of Ashura (not sure when that is)

Okay that doesn't seem too bad, the 3am thing will be a test though. I'll see what other rules there are when I talk with my Muslim friends.


Anonymous said...

Sawiq is a kind of barley porridge

Glen McKay said...

Thanks for that. Looking further in the Al-Bukhari Hadiths it also gave me a translation.

Now I just have to find some to try it out.

Anonymous said...

Googled you today as we had not heard from you in ages and came across the blog. Glad to see you are well and happy, enjoying life in Doha. VERY disappointed that you were here in May and we did not see you.

Keep in touch,
Lothar and Fiona