Questions related to Ramadan – Part IV


What is fidya and why is it offered?

Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:

فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَّرِيْضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِيْنَ يُطِيْقُوْنَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِيْنٍ

“And whoso among you is sick or is on a journey [shall fast] the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast [only] with great difficulty is an expiation – the feeding of a poor man.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.185)

The general rule is that one should be eager to fast during the month of Ramadan. However, those who are permanently sick, weak or a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding continuously etc., and do not possess the strength to fast may offer fidya (expiation). In addition, a person who is not able to fast owing to a genuine reason and can fast at a later time may also give fidya, as it is a virtue. However, it is essential for such a person to fast at a later time.

As far as the quantity or amount of fidya is concerned which is given to a poor person, its guidance is present in the Holy Quran:

مِنْ أَوْسَطِ مَا تُطْعِمُوْنَ أَهْلِيْكُمْ

“With such average food as you feed your families with” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.90). Thus, for every missed fast, a person should feed a poor person two times a day or offer the amount needed for it. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa states:

“Although fasting has been prescribed for the development of taqwa [righteousness], but as Islam is a religion in line with nature, therefore it makes allowances for situations which naturally arise in life. However, attainment of taqwa should always be the aim, so if fasting is not possible, then either a needy person should be fed or fidya should be paid.” (Friday Sermon, Baitul Futuh Mosque, 21 September 2007)

Explaining the true philosophy and purpose of offering fidya, the Promised Messiahas states:

“Once I had an intuition about the philosophy behind fidya and observed that the main objective behind it is to attain the means whereby one can observe fasts. Allah the Almighty provides all the abilities and one should ask Him for everything. Allah is the All-Powerful and if He Wills, He can grant the strength needed for fasting to a feeble person. So, fidya provides one with the strength to observe fasts and it can only be delivered by the grace of Allah the Almighty. Thus, I believe that one should pray to Allah, asking for strength, ‘O Lord! This is your blessed month and I am being deprived of its blessings. I do not know if I will live to see the next year’s Ramadan or if I may find the opportunity to compensate and observe the missing fasts.’ I am certain that Allah the Exalted would bless such a person the strength to observe fasts.” (Al Badr, 12 December 1902, p. 52)

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra states:

“Fidya does not invalidate the obligation of fasting. Fidya is for those people who, under a reason permitted by the Sharia, are unable to participate in the blessed days of Ramadan in performing this worship alongside other Muslims. These excuses are of two types: temporary and permanent. Fidya should be given in both these conditions depending on financial means of the person. Although one may offer fidya, but after one, two or three years, whenever the person finds good health, they should observe those missed fasts. The exception is for those who initially suffered temporary ailments and after getting well, intended to observe the fasts every day but their health deteriorated to a state of permanent illness. Whoever finds financial means and falls in the category of a traveler or sick, should provide an underprivileged person with a meal as fidya and observe the missed fasts on other days. This was the practice of the Promised Messiahas – he used to give fidya, eventually observing fasts too. He used to admonish others about this as well.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 389)

What is etikaf in the month of Ramadan?

Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:

وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

“And We commanded Abraham and Ishmael, saying, ‘Purify My House for those who perform the circuit and those who remain [therein] for devotion and those who bow down and fall prostrate in prayer.’”(Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.126)

Etikaf is a form of worship which is generally observed during the last ten days, beginning from the Fajr prayer on the twentieth in the month of Ramadan by staying in a mosque. After fasting for 20 days in the month of Ramadan, a believer feels an eagerness to attain as much pleasure and delight of Allah the Almighty as possible, and therefore, in the last ten days of Ramadan, with much enthusiasm and vigour, strives to achieve the nearness of Allah the Almighty.

The most suitable place to perform etikaf is a mosque, as it is stated in the Holy Quran:

وَأَنْتُمْ عَاكِفُوْنَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ

“While you remain in the mosques for devotion.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.188)

It is reported that the Holy Prophetsa used to tighten his girdle, stay awake for most of the night for prayers and exhort his family to do the same during the last ten days of Ramadan.

Hazrat Aishara reported that every year till the time of his demise, the Holy Prophetsa used to observe etikaf in the mosque during these ten days and nights of Ramadan, and the same practice was continued by his wives after his demise. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Etikaf)

Hazrat Abu Hurairara narrated that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, went into retreat for ten days in the month of Ramadan but in the year in which he passed away, he went into retreat for twenty days. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Etikaf)

During etikaf it should be kept in mind that a person should try to completely cut off from the material world and should make a habit of sacrificing worldly desires. One should not leave the place of etikaf except for when necessary (for example, using the bathroom etc.). It is not permissible to have conjugal relations even at night during etikaf.

What is Lailatul Qadr (the night of decree)?

Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِيْ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ۔ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ۔ لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ۔ تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيْهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِّنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ۔ سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ

“Surely, We sent it [the Quran] on the Night of Destiny. And what should make thee know what the Night of Destiny is? The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months. Therein descend angels and the Spirit by the command of their Lord with their Lord’s decree concerning everything. Peace – so will it be even at the rising of the dawn.” (Surah al-Qadr, Ch.97: V.1-6)

Lailatul Qadr is a night of great blessings in which Allah the Almighty showers His Mercy upon His sincere and faithful believers. It is said that the Holy Quran’s revelation began on this very night and it is generally associated with the showering of blessings and mercy of Allah the Almighty in the month of Ramadan, particularly in its last ten days. However, it possesses other meanings as well which are all deeply rooted in Allah the Almighty’s attribute of Al-Rahman (the Gracious).

Hazrat Abu Hurairara narrates that the Holy Prophetsa said:

“Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan with sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, all their past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stands for the prayers in the night of Qadr with sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, all their previous sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fazl Lailatul Qadr)

Regarding the occurrence of this night, Hazrat Aishara relates that the Holy Prophetsa said:

“Seek Lailatul Qadr (the night of decree) among the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan (i.e. 21, 23, 25, 27 or 29).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fazl Lailatul Qadr)

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra states:

“The day [of the night of decree] comes but once a year and it represents the hour of the acceptance of prayer. Therefore, benefit should be drawn from it as much as possible.” (Al Fazl, 17 May 1923)


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