By NBF News

Ramadan is the month of excitement for Muslims. It is the month of revelation of the Quran, the month of reading and reciting the whole Quran, the month of Tahajjud and the month of Tarawih prayers, of Sadaqah and Zakah-ul-Fitr.

No one can go anywhere without preparation, and no one invites a guest without preparing to welcome him/her. Similarly, to welcome Ramadan, the month of fasting, one has to prepare.

11 Tips for Preparing for Ramadan:
1. Try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays as of today.

2. Start reading the Quran everyday after Fajr prayers.

3. Spend some time listening to recitations from the Quran.

4. Train yourself to go bed early so that you do not miss the Fajr prayers.

5. Keep yourself in a state of Wudu most of the time.

6. Evaluate yourself each day before going to bed.
7. Thank Allah for good deeds, and repent to Him for your mistakes and sins.

8. Give yourself time alone, so that you can meditate, make dhikr and tasbeeh.

9. Start giving Sadaqah each day, no matter how little. Make it a habit like eating and drinking.

10. Spend more time reading Islamic books, especially the Quran, Seerah, Hadith, and Fiqh.

11. Find time to help others with your wisdom, knowledge and talent. Try to write articles on Islam for Muslims and non-Muslims.

Some Facts About the Saum of Ramadan
1. Fardh: The Saum of Ramadan is Fardh (obligatory). It is enjoined on all Muslim men and women.

2. Moon Sighting: The Saum of Ramadan commences when the sighting of the Ramadan Hilal (crescent moon) has been confirmed in accordance with the rules of the Shariah. Niyyat (Intention) for the Saum of Ramadan should be renewed each day. A single Niyyat at the beginning of Ramadan will not suffice for the Saum of the entire month.

3. Kaffarah: A fast of Ramadan broken deliberately without valid reason, after having made the Niyyat for fasting during the night, brings about the penalty of Kaffarah. Note: a traveller is permitted to refrain from Saum, although it is meritorious for him/her to fast, if the journey is not a difficult one. The traveller shall make Qadha of all Saum omitted during the journey.

4. Menstruation: If a woman starts menstruating during the course of the fasting day, the fast is not valid. It is not incumbent to abstain from eating during the remaining part of the day. Preferably, it is better to avoid eating in the presence of those who are fasting. She can compensate for her missed fasts later after Ramadan.

5. Pregnancy: When a pregnant woman has a genuine fear for either her own life or the life of the child she is bearing, it will be permissible for her to refrain from Saum. She will have to make Qadha of the Saum she misses as a result.

6. Elderly: A very old person who is truly unable to fast, is permitted to refrain from Saum. He has to offer compensation by means of paying the Fidyah.

Questions and Answers About the Kaffarah of Ramadan

1. What does Kaffarah mean?
Kaffarah (compensation) is the penalty, which is imposed by Shariah for the deliberate and flagrant nullification of the Saum of Ramadan.

2. Does it apply to all fasts?
Kaffarah applies to only the Saum of Ramadan.
3. When does it apply?
Kaffarah comes into force only if the Niyyat for fasting was made at night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. Thus, if Niyyat was made during the night to fast the following day, and then the fast is broken without valid reason, the Kaffarah penalty comes into effect.

4. What does the penalty consist of?
Kaffarah for flagrantly breaking a fast of Ramadan is to fast 60 consecutive days- sixty days, one after the other, without missing any day in between.

5. What renders the Kaffarah invalid?
The Kaffarah will be rendered invalid if for any reason- be it a valid reason, even a single day is omitted during the 60 day-Kaffarah course. Thus if a person fasted for 59 days and failed to fast on the 60th day due to illness, he will have to start the Kaffarah all over again. The only interruption, which will not invalidate the Kaffarah is Haydh (the monthly menses of women).

6. What if one cannot fulfill the Kaffarah?
A person who is unable to discharge the Kaffarah because of ill-health or very old age, will have to feed 60 poor persons. Each miskeen (poor) should be given two full meals for the day or the amount in cash, which is given as Sadaqah Fitr. This amount is the price of approximately 2 kilograms bread flour. Instead of the cash, the flour may also be given.

7. Do the penalties add up within the month?
No. A single Ramadan, makes Wajib only one Kaffarah irrespective of the number of fasts flagrantly broken during that Ramadan.

8. Do the penalties add up from year to year?
Yes. If fasts were flagrantly nullified in more than one Ramadan, the number of Kaffarah will be equal to the number of Ramadan. So if fasts were flagrantly broken in three different Ramadans, three different Kaffarah will be obligatory.

9. What if the Kaffarah month is less than 30 days?

When the Kaffarah is commenced on the 1st day of the Islamic month, then fasting two full Islamic months will suffice for the Kaffarah even if the total number of days in the two months are 58 days (29 day months). If, however, the Kaffarah is started during the course of the month, then it will be necessary to fast full 60 days.

Culled from Islamic Voice, Shaban / Ramadan 1423 H, November 2002.