On That Mid Ramadan Slump – Ustadh Salman Younas

Originally Published: 22/06/2016

With half of Ramadan gone, does your worship feel routine and stale? Is feeling this way making you lazier and less excited about performing more acts of worship? Ustadh Salman Younas says this is not uncommon.

This is a challenge that every one of us faces when it comes to our acts of worship. As humans, we have been created weak and part of this weakness are the fluctuations we experience in our states. Sometimes we feel good, excited, and spiritually high; other times we feel stale, lazy, and lacking in presence. Ramadan is no exception when it comes to this.
Before giving you specific advice, the first thing you need to recognize is that feelings are ultimately inconsequential. We worship because we believe God is worthy of worship. Whether it makes us feel good or excited is not the main focus. However, since these feelings become impediments to worship itself for most people, it is important to take some concrete steps in overcoming them when possible.
In this noble month, I would advise you to do the following to reignite the spark:

1. Renew Intentions & Seek God’s Aid

This may sound obvious but it is not so for many people. When we begin to wane in our worship and do not feel the same presence we used to, it is a good time to pause, analyze one’s intention, and turn to God in assistance. Often times, these states are sent precisely as a test to see whether we try to lift ourselves up, turn to Him, and continue striving to do our best. So, perform ablution, pray two cycles, and renew your intention to be in the worship of God to the best of your ability.

2. Don’t Miss Suhur

This is one of the first actions that people stop doing as Ramadan progresses. But suhur is not simply done to keep us somewhat satiated for the long day ahead. Rather, it is a spiritual act which when done the right way with the right intention fills one’s day with blessing (baraka). As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “Partake in suhur for indeed there is blessing in it.” [Bukhari, Muslim] Force yourself to wake up with some time to spare, eat a healthy breakfast, and engage in some worship – no matter how little – before Fajr. When you start your day in a blessed manner, chances are that it will continue in that manner.

3. Freshen Up & Dress Well

If you’re at home, don’t lounge around in your nighties. This is almost asking to be lazy and unproductive. Stay fresh by taking a shower (ghusl) or at the least remaining on ablution (wudu’), keep yourself well-groomed, and dress well. Studies show that clothing can systematically influence an individual’s psychological processes and effect productivity. Additionally, taking care of one’s appearance is part of the sunna.

4. Change Up Your Worship

Often times, breaking out of a stale state requires modifications to one’s daily habits. If you are not finding presence in your supererogatory prayer (nawafil), try to replace some of it with Qur’an or dhikr. Perhaps introduce some reading of tafsir or listening to a lecture by a scholar you enjoy. If you worship mostly at home, visit the masjid for spiritual upliftment; if you do dhikr in your room, go out for a quiet walk with your misbaha (prayer beads); if you usually pray by yourself at home, start praying with other family members.

5. Be Diplomatic & Balanced

The self (nafs) is not an easy thing to tame. Sometimes, we need to approach it diplomatically. Demand worship from it but let it breath a little a bit too. If it wants to check Facebook or Twitter or relax for a bit, then do so in moderation but make sure you tell it to read some Qur’an or perform a few cycles of prayer after. As one of my teachers said, “Give your nafs what it wants from the halal and then take from it what you want from good actions and worship.” This will hopefully ensure that you don’t burn out. As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “This religion is ease and none makes it difficult except that it will overwhelm him. So, perform your deeds properly and in moderation…” [Bukhari]

6. Good Company & Collective Worship

There is a reason why the larger community is so stressed upon in our tradition. Believers feed off each others’ states and push each other towards something higher than themselves. They uplift each other and provide motivation to engage in the good. The mosque is an obvious place to meet others and engage in collective worship, but so is your home. Keep the Ramadan excitement going in your household by making the family have iftar together, praying together, watching your favorite lectures, going to talks/events, and visiting/inviting people over for iftar. The same can be done with your friends.
While there are a number of other points that can be mentioned, the most important thing is to keep at it. Do not give up on your worship simply because you are not feeling it anymore. Rather, try your best and recognize that worship transcends the temporal feelings that we may experience. These ups and downs are part of the test that God has laid out for us to see who among us “will excel in good deeds.” (11;7) Hopefully, by following some of the above points, the excitement of worship will be reignited. That is what we require at this point: a little spark that we can capitalize on so as to fully benefit from this month.
And God alone gives success.

Have I Invalidated My Fasts by Being Confused About Fajr Time?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

On the first day of Ramadan I thought Fajr was at 3.20. In reality it was around 3.00. I’ve only realised this about 5 days later.

Now I don’t know for a fact if I ever drank water at the wrong time after Fajr.

Are these fasts valid?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

Your fasts are valid and the doubt you have regarding eating or drinking after the time should be ignored. Of course, you should take care in the future to ensure that you know exactly when the time of Fajr comes in so such confusion does not arise.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

When Does it Really Become Prohibited to Eat During Ramadan?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalamu alaikum
I have read that when fasting one should make sure that between the moment one stops eating and Fajr’s time there is a gap which would allow one to recite 50 verses of the Qur’an .
What happens if one stops eating 5 minutes before Fajr?

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The fast begins at the break of dawn (Fajr). Thus you can technically eat and drink until this point.
However, the general sunna is to stop a little early and use this blessed time for worship and supplication. As an aside, this is also safer for your fast considering that many people often err when trying to do the absolute minimum.
Please see:When is the Exact End Time for the Dawn (Fajr) Prayer? and: The Complete Guide to Fasting
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

When is the Exact End Time for the Dawn (Fajr) Prayer?

Question: Assalamaleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
I know that the time for suhoor ends 10 minutes before fajr. Does this mean that the time for Isha ends 10 minutes before fajr as well, or can you pray until the start fajr (proper)?
Answer: Walaikum Asalaam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuh.
The time of Isha is from the end of Maghrib until the beginning of Fajr. Thus, if a person were to complete Isha prayer before the entering of Fajr, the prayer would be valid, yet disliked (makruh). It should be noted that to make it a habit to pray Isha minutes before Fajr would be prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) and against the Sunna.
The time for suhoor is actually valid until the moment Fajr enters. It is sunna to delay suhoor as much as possible without becoming fearful of accidentally breaking the fast. (10-15 minutes).
(Maraqi al Falah)
Jazak Allah Khayr.
And Allah knows best.
Torab Torabi
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Maliki View on Stopping Eating 10 Minutes Before Fajr in Ramadan

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: If one follows the madhab of imam Malik, is it permissible to do imsak, i.e. stop eating 10 to 15 minutes before the time of fajr comes in.

Every Ramadhan the local mosque adds an extra column to the prayer times schedule. Next to the fajr times it says imsak. Imsak is about 10 to 15 minutes before fajr time comes in. I’ve been told that it is not obligatory but recommended to stop eating around this time.

In some online fatwas this is mentioned as being an act of extremism and an innovation in Islam. Although these Shuyukh do not represent the Maliki madhab, I’m still uncertain of the truth. What would be your advice concerning this matter?

Answer: In the Maliki madhab it is recommended to stop eating a short time before the entrance of the dawn (fajr) time. This is based on the action of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) who would stop eating before dawn the amount of time it would take to read 50 verses.

If a person were to eat right up until the entrance of dawn, the fast would technically be correct but they would have left the recommended Sunna. Once should exercise caution though in eating close to the dawn time. This caution is especially needed when you are not sure about the entrance of the time, such as when it is cloudy or you are in a valley.

And Allah knows best.

Brief Miscellaneous Q & A Relating to Fasting

Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Q: Is taking a meal before commencing a fast (suhur) necessary in order for a fast to be valid?

A: No, Suhur is not necessary. However, it is a virtuous act of Sunnah that should not be missed unnecessarily.

Q: What time does Suhur begin?

A: One can take Suhur any time after midnight, but it is more advisable to take it in the latter hours of the night, preferably just before the break of true dawn (al-Fajr al-Sadiq).

Q: Is an intention for fasting necessary and when should one make the intention (niyyah) for the fast of Ramadhan?

A: The intention for fasting is necessary but very simple: It is to know in your heart that you will fast that day. It is valid to have this intention any time from Maghrib the night before up to the Islamic midday of the actual day of fasting, for current Ramadhan fasts and voluntary fasts. The Islamic midday is half way between the beginning of Fajr and Maghrib times. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya)

Q: Can a man have sexual intercourse with his wife during the nights of Ramadhan?

A: Yes, it is permitted to have sexual intercourse with one’s spouse during the nights of Ramadhan. However, one must stop before the break of dawn (al-Fajr al-Sadiq). It will also be permitted to take the obligatory ritual bath of purification after one has started one’s fast.

Q: Is it permissible to kiss and caress one’s wife whilst fasting?

A: Non-sexual affectionate kissing, from which there is no fear of leading to intercourse or ejaculation, will be allowed and not disliked. However, if one fears that kissing will lead to ejaculation or sexual intercourse, then it will be disliked (makruh) to kiss, but one’s fast will remain valid as long as kissing does not lead to actual sexual intercourse or does not result in ejaculation. If kissing resulted in ejaculation, one’s fast would become invalid and hence will have to be made up (qadha), without having to expiate for it (kaffara). Passionate kissing when saliva is exchanged will invalidate one’s fast, with both Qadha and Kaffara necessary. (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/200 & 1/204)

Q: Does a fast break when one swallows the saliva of one’s spouse?

A: Yes, if one is certain of swallowing one’s spouse’s saliva, then this would invalidate one’s fast and necessitate both a Qadha and Kaffara.

Q: If one kisses or caresses one’s spouse and consequently ejaculates, is one’s fast broken?

A: Yes, the fast is invalidated. However one will only have to make up for the fast (Qadha), and there will be no expiation (Kaffara) in this situation.

Q: What is the difference between a Qadha and Kaffara?

A: Qadha (makeup) means to keep another fast in order to make up for the fast which was invalidated, whilst Kaffara (expiation) means to perform an act to expatiate the sin of having broken a fast.

Q: In what way is a Kaffara fulfilled?

A: A Kaffara may be given in the following two ways: 1) Fasting for two months consecutively without missing a single fast, 2) Feeding sixty poor people. It should be remembered that if one has the ability to fast then one cannot adopt the second method; rather, one will have to fast for sixty days continuously.

Q: Does an injection invalidate one’s fast?

A: No, it does not invalidate one’s fast, although it is better to avoid taking injections whilst fasting unnecessarily.

Q: Does taking out blood or a blood test invalidate one’s fast?

A: No, a blood test does not invalidate the fast, as it is merely the taking out of blood. However, it will be disliked if it could weaken one from being able to maintain the fast.

Q: Does smoking invalidate one’s fast?

A: Yes, it does invalidate one’s fast. (Ramadhan is a good time to quit smoking forever!).

Q: Is it allowed to use an Asthma Pump during the Fast?

A: If one has a genuine medical need for an asthma pump that cannot be otherwise fulfilled, then it would be permitted to use it. However, it would break the fast and require that the fast be made up later (Qadha). This is because anything that has a perceptible body breaks the fast if it enters the body through a normal channel.

Q: When does vomiting break one’s fast?

A: Vomiting only breaks one’s fast if: a) one returns and swallows the vomit down the throat, or b) one vomits a mouthful intentionally. It is not broken by non-deliberate vomiting or (deliberately) vomiting less than a mouthful. If one’s fast is broken by vomiting, then one will only have to make up (qadha) for the fast, a Kaffara will not be necessary.

Q: How does one decide when vomiting is a mouthful?

A: The definition of “mouthful vomiting” is that which one cannot hold back in one’s mouth without difficulty.

Q: Can one fast whilst travelling?

A: Yes, one may fast while travelling. However one should not burden oneself if the journey is long and difficult, for in such situations it is advisable not to fast.

Q: Can a woman on menstruation (haydh) or post-natal bleeding (nifas) fast?

A: No, she cannot fast. It will be unlawful (haram) for her to do so.

Q: Does a woman on menstruation (Haydh) or post-natal bleeding (Nifas) have to make up for the fasts missed?

A: Yes, she will have to make Qadha for the missed fasts.

Q: Does one have to perform the Qadha fasts immediately after Ramadhan?

A: No, it is not necessary. However, it is recommended to complete the missed fasts of Ramadhan as soon as possible.

Q: When can a sick person break his/her fast on the opinion of a doctor?

A: When a competent Muslim doctor says that if he/she continues fasting, it will bring danger to his/her life or severely effect the health, then in such a situation it will be permitted to break one’s fast. One will not be liable for a Kaffara but will only have to make up for the fast (Qadha).

And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK