TYPES OF FASTING There are two types of fasting: There are obligatory fasting and voluntary fasting. As the terms indicate, obligatory fast is compulsory on Muslims (except those exempted by shari’ah). Failure to observe obligatory fast is a major sin before Allah (SWT). On the other hand, voluntary fasting is observed only if so desired by the Muslim concerned. A more elaborate presentation on voluntary fast shall be made later on. Obligatory fasting can be further sub-divided into the following: 1. The fast of Ramadan 2. The fast of Expiation 3. The fast of fulfilling a vow. Since our attention for now is on the fast of Ramadan, discussion on the remaining two sub-divisions (Expiation and vow fulfilment) shall also be made later. ARRIVAL OF RAMADAN Ramadan is reckoned as beginning when the new moon is sighted in the evening of the 29th of sha’aban (The 8th month of the lunar calendar). However, if its appearance is not confirmed by even one person known to be trustworthy, the month of sha’aban shall continue for thirty days. In that case, the following day automatically becomes the first day of Ramadan. If the new moon is sighted by one trustworthy Muslim male or female and announced by the appropriate authorities (in Nigeria, appropriate authority is the sultanate), it becomes necessary of every Muslim in the Ummah whom the information reached to commence the fast. It is Sunnah for the person who sights the new moon to recite the following: “Allahumma ahillahuu alaina bil amni wal iimaani wassalaamati wal islaami rabbi wa rabbukallahu hilaalurrushdi walk hair” Meaning: “O Allah make this new moon appear to us while we are enjoying security, faith, safety and Islam. O new moon! My Rabb and yours is Allah, May this new moon be a new moon of guidance and goodness” In the event of not hearing about the sighting of the moon before the appearance of fajr of the first Day of Ramadan, that person shall be expected to observe all rules concerning those who are fasting. However, that day’s fasting will have to be paid back as no intention was made. In the case of sighting of moon at the end of Ramadan, if the moon is sighted by two trustworthy persons in the evening of 29th of Ramadan, the following day will be 1st Shawwal otherwise the days of Ramadan will be allowed to run for 30 days and the following day automatically will be 1st Shawwal. If you commence fasting in a place and within the month you travel to another place that started fasting a day or two before the place of take-off, you are obliged to break your fast the same time with those in the place of destination. You will however repay back the number or days missed after Ramadan to make it up to 29 or 30. If however the place of take-off started fasting a day or two before the place of destination, what you do in this case is to break your fast when you have observed 29 or 30 days. You however have to wait for the community of destination before performing eid prayer. Even if you have the minimum number of people required to perform eid prayer, you all must wait for the entire community to perform eid together. It is haram to observe more than 30 days fasting in the name of Ramadan fasting. The justification of this is in the combination of these two hadiths when considered together. The first hadeeth is where the prophet of Allah (SWT) was quoted to have said: “Verily, the month is 29 days, so do not fast until you see the new moon, and do not break the fast until you see the new moon. And if it is hidden from you by clouds, then complete the number (as 30 days)” and the second hadith where the prophet (S.A.W) was quoted to have said: ‘The fast is the day that you all fast, breaking the fast is on the day that you all break the fast and the sacrifice (Al-Adhha) is on the day that you all sacrifice’ At-Tirmidhi reported. ON INTENTION Intention must be made (in the heart) before dawn (fajr) after confirmation about sighting of the moon. It is not valid to make intention in anticipation. It is equally not valid to commence Ramadan fast without intention. Determination of intention is done in the heart, hence requires no pronouncement. If one abstains for a period of time from fasting due to illness or traveling, he must determine his intention wherever he resumes to it. Necessity of making the intention before dawn is peculiar only to obligatory fasting and ones with specific days (e.g. Rafat day and Ashura ). In the case of voluntary fast, one can make intention even after fajr provided he has not eaten or drunk anything.