Many questions are asked on a myriad of subjects related to Ramadan. While the answers can vary, owing to the varying circumstances of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa throughout his life, during Ramadan, we will be providing our readers the practices and sayings of his most loyal servant, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Hakam and ‘Adl (Judge and Arbiter of this day) concerning many aspects of Ramadan and how it should be practiced best. These have been taken from Fiqhul-Masih (Urdu) on the chapter of Ramadan.
Fasting and Ramadan
The Promised Messiahas says:
“Sincerely observe your fasts for the sake of God. Let everyone who is liable to pay the Zakat do so and anyone upon whom the Hajj has become obligatory and who face no hindrance ought to perform the pilgrimage.” (Noah’s Ark, p. 26)
Sighting of the crescent moon
“A clear and straight path has been laid for mankind by Allah the Almighty to make religious obligations simple and straightforward. He has not put His creation in purposeless predicaments and complications. For example, in the case of fasting He has not decreed that unless you are sure through scientific calculations of astronomy for the moon to be of the 29th or 30th of the month, there is no need to trust the physical sighting of the moon, keeping one’s eyes closed (even after sighting it). It is evident that putting mankind in difficulty because of these unique systems of astronomy is of no use and is in fact a very arduous thing. And it is also obvious that these calculations are prone to human error.
“Thus it is clear and in favour of mankind that they do not depend on astrophysicists and astronomers. One should stick to their own sighting of the moon with the naked eye and, as per the estimate, should not exceed the number thirty. It should be kept in mind that in reality, the sighting of the moon with the naked eye holds precedence over the speculations of science. This idea of giving precedence to the sense of sight led European scientists to invent various kinds of instruments like telescopes and microscopes, and in a matter of days, with the help of this sense, they discovered those truths about the universe which the poor Hindus were unable to find in thousands of years of speculations.
“Now you know how blessed the sense of sight is and Allah the Almighty emphasised it to make its blessings known.
“Think for a second, if the Europeans were to consider this sense of sight to be a waste and a useless thing, like the Hindus did, and were to focus on the mental speculations which were written while sitting in a dark cottage, how would these modern understandings about the sun, the moon and the stars have come to light. So, once again I write that you open your eyes and see how blessed is the sense of sight and what wonders it possesses.” (Surma Chashm-e-Arya, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 2, pp. 192-193)
Error in sighting of the crescent moon
A friend from Sialkot enquired from the Promised Messiahas, “The moon was not sighted here on Tuesday and instead, was sighted on Wednesday [while Ramadan had already begun on Wednesday]. So, we observed the first fast on Thursday. What are we to do now?” The Promised Messiahas replied:
“After the month of Ramadan, observe an additional fast, in exchange to the one that has been missed.” (Al Badr, 31 October 1907, p.7)
Testimony of the crescent sighting
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra states that Miyan Khairuddin Sahib Sekhwanira once wrote to him saying:
“Once, instead of sighting the moon ourselves, we started to observe the fast on the testimony of some non-Ahmadis. The very same day, we reached Qadian around the time of Zuhr prayer and mentioned that we were fasting. Huzooras also entered the mosque and [realising that we were fasting] books of Hadith were brought to the mosque and they were pondered upon with deep concentration, because nobody had observed the fast in Qadian that day.
“At that moment, I was asked, ‘Did you sight the moon by yourself?’ I replied, ‘Some non-Ahmadis saw it.’ The moment I uttered that reply and said that the non-Ahmadis had sighted the moon, the books were closed and the Promised Messiahas said, ‘I thought that perhaps you observed the fast after sighting the moon yourself. That is why I began to research.’” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 265)
Delay in sehri
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra states that Munshi Zafar Ahmad Sahib Kapurthalvira wrote to him:
“I used to stay in a room adjacent to Masjid Mubarak. Once, as I was eating sehri [breakfast] when the Promised Messiahas came and after taking a look he asked, ‘Do you eat dal [lentil soup] with bread?’ There and then, the manager [of the kitchen] was called and asked, ‘Do you serve my friends this food? Not all among those present here are on a journey. From now on, ask each and every one of them what kind of food they are accustomed to; what they would like to have in sehri and prepare that food for them.’ Thereafter the manager brought more food for me but I had already eaten and the call for prayer had already been made. Huzooras instructed, ‘Have your meal. The Azan [call to prayer] was made early so do not worry.’” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p.127)
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra states that Dr Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahibra told him:
“In 1895 I had the opportunity to observe the entire month of Ramadan in Qadian. During that month, I offered Tahajjud prayer (meaning the Tarawih prayer) behind Huzooras.
“The Promised Messiahas had a habit of offering Witr in the early part of the night while he would offer eight rakaat of Tahajjud prayer – divided into twos – during the latter portion of the night, wherein he regularly used to recite Ayat-ul-Kursi (from ‘Allahu La Ilaha Illa Hu’ to ‘Wa Huwal Aliyyul Azim’) in the first rakat and Surah Al-Ikhlas in the second rakat. In prostrations he would often recite ‘Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyumu Birahmatika Astagheeth’ [O Living and Self-Subsisting God, I seek Your help through Your mercy]. He used to recite this in a way that I could easily hear his voice.
“Moreover, he used to have sehri after Tahajjud prayer, sometimes prolonging it to the time when the call for (Fajr) prayer was made, yet on other occasions he would continue to have sehri while waiting for the call for prayer to complete.”
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra says, “I infer that it is permissible to eat sehri until the sun is visible from the eastern horizon, having no connection whatsoever with the call for Fajr prayer, as the Azan for Fajr prayer is made at the break of dawn. This is why people consider the Azan to be the limit for sehri. The call for Fajr prayer is generally made immediately after the break of dawn in Qadian, in fact on some occasions, mistakenly or inadvertently, it is made even before the break of dawn. Thus in such circumstances the Promised Messiahas would not limit his sehri to the Azan and would continue to have sehri until the break of dawn became visibly clear.
“The reality behind the Sharia law regarding this proposition is not to withdraw from meals according to systematic calculations of the break of dawn. The word ‘Tabayyan’ [to become clear] clarifies that the sole purpose of this proposition is that when daybreak becomes visibly clear to everyone, that is the time when one should conclude the sehri.
“In a Hadith, the Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said, ‘The call for Fajr prayer by Bilalra should not stop you from having sehri, rather you should continue to eat and drink until you hear the call for the prayer by Ibn Maktumra.’ Ibn Maktumra was blind and therefore he would not make the call for prayer until he heard the voices and crys: It is the break of dawn! It is the break of dawn!” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, pp. 295-296)
Being cautious at the time of sehri
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra states that Hafiz Nur Muhammad Sahib Faizullah Chak told him:
“Once during the month of Ramadan, somebody made the call for Fajr prayer well before the time of sehri. The Promised Messiahas entered the mosque and said, ‘I was about to take a sip from my glass of milk when I heard the call for prayer and so, I placed the glass back.’ Somebody said, ‘Huzoor, there is still time to eat and drink,’ to which the Promised Messiahas replied, ‘I do not deem it appropriate to consume anything after the Azan.’”
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra says, “If this instance has been reported correctly, then Huzooras must have undertaken this precaution particularly for himself. Otherwise Huzooras used to consider the time [of the completion of sehri] to be the break of dawn and not when the call for Fajr prayer was made. In accordance with the objective of the Quranic verse, he used to emphasise that [sehri should be concluded] when the time of Fajr prayer becomes visible. Yet, as the saints say: there is a difference between fatwa [the edict] and taqwa [righteousness].” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 520)
The prohibition of fasting on a journey is not optional; it is a commandment
The Promised Messiahas was enquired regarding the injunction about keeping a fast while traveling. Huzooras said, “The Holy Quran tells us:
فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَّرِيْضًا اَوْ عَليٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ اَيَّامٍ اُخَرَ
[‘… but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days.’ (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.185)]
“This means that the one who is sick or on a journey should not keep a fast. This verse possesses an injunction. Allah the Almighty has not said that whosoever has the strength may observe the fast and the one who lacks that strength should refrain from it. In my view, a traveler should not fast, but it is the practice of some people that they do observe fasts on journeys. Considering this routine of observing fasts while traveling, there is no wrongdoing in that, but still one should act upon the injunction ‘Iddatun Min Ayamin Ukhar’ [the same number of other days].”
Upon this, Maulvi Nuruddin Sahibra expressed that one should observe a few fasts on days of the other months as well.
The Promised Messiahas said on one occasion:
“The one who observes a fast while on a journey, experiencing great difficulties, instead of winning His delight through submission to His commandments, attempts to please Allah the Almighty arbitrarily. This is an erroneous act. True obedience lies in submission to Allah the Almighty’s commandments and prohibitions. (Al Hakam, 31 January 1899, p. 7)
A traveler or an ill person should not fast
Upon learning that Sheikh Muhammad Chatu Sahib and friends had arrived from Lahore, the Promised Messiahas, according to his excellent morals, stepped outside his residence. The purpose behind it was for a leisurely walk, but in doing so, the crowd of people would also be afforded the opportunity to meet the Promised Messiahas. Many people were already aware that the Promised Messiahas would come out, therefore, many people had gathered in the small mosque [Masjid Mubarak, Qadian]. When the Promised Messiahas exited his residence, companions thronged and rushed towards him. After greeting Sheikh Sahib, the following conversation ensued:
Huzooras: How are you? You are an old friend of ours.
Baba Chatu: I am well, thank you.
Huzooras: (Addressing Hakim Muhammad Hussein Qureshi Sahib) Please see to it that our guest is made comfortable and arrangements for his food and sleeping area are made. If you require anything, do inform me and make it clear to Miyan Najmuddin to prepare meals according to his liking.
Hakim Muhammad Hussein: Very good Huzoor. Insha-Allah there will be no problem.
Huzooras: (Addressing Baba Chatu) As you are on a journey, I assume you are not fasting?
Baba Chatu: No. I am, in fact, fasting.
Huzooras: The fact of the matter is that taqwa [fear of God] is in acting upon the conveniences provided by the Quran. God has granted permission to the traveller and the sick to observe their fasts at other times. Therefore, this permission should be acted upon as well. I have read that some people of influence have the view that if a traveller or a sick person fasts, it is a sin. After all, the objective is to attain God’s pleasure, and not one’s own pleasure. God’s pleasure is in His obedience; whatever command He gives should be followed, and self-made interpretations should not be made. He has given this exact order:
مَنْ کَانَ مِنْکُمْ مَّرِیْضًا اَوْ عَلیٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ اَیَّامٍ اُخَر
[Whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days. (Ch.2: V.185)]
There is no further condition about what sort of journey it should be or how ill one should be. Neither do I fast while I am travelling, nor do I fast when I am sick. I am not feeling well today, therefore I am not fasting. Walking makes me feel better, that is why I am about to set out. Will you join me?
Baba Chatu: No, unfortunately I cannot go. But you should proceed. Although [not fasting while travelling] is a command, if there is no discomfort in travel then why should the fast not be observed?
Huzooras: That is your opinion. The Holy Quran does not allude to the subject of discomfort or lack thereof. You are now advancing in age and cannot trust life. Thus, man should adopt the path that pleases God Almighty and attain the right path.
Baba Chatu: This is why I have come, to benefit from your wisdom. If this is the true path, then I would not desire to die an ignorant death.
Huzooras: Yes, this is a very good thing. I shall set off now. You should get some rest. (Having said this, Huzooras left for a walk.)
(Al Hakam [Urdu] 31 January 1907 p. 14)
There was once a discussion on the subject of fasting whilst sick or on a journey. Hazrat Maulvi Nuruddin Sahibra said, “Ibn-e-Arabi has stated that even if a sick or travelling person fasts during Ramadan, it still is mandatory for them to keep the remaining fasts, after their health restores in the days that follow Ramadan. This is because God Almighty has stated in the Holy Quran:
فَمَنْ کَانَ مِنْکُمْ مَّرِیْضًا اَوْ عَلیٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ اَیَّامٍ اُخَر
[So whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days. (Ch.2: V.185)]
Huzoorra said, “Whosoever is sick or travelling during Ramadan, it is mandatory for such a person to keep fasts in the days after Ramadan. God did not state that those people [on a journey or those who are sick] who fast during Ramadan out of stubbornness or personal choice, should not make up for the affected days after Ramadan. It is a clear command of Allah the Almighty that the fasts should be made up in the days after Ramadan, and making up of fasts in the other days becomes mandatory.
“If a person keeps fasts during Ramadan in these two states, then that is at the discretion of that person. They will still have to make up for them later, when they attain health. Simply by keeping fasts in Ramadan while sick or on a journey would not invalidate God’s injunction of making up for them later.”
The Promised Messiahas states, “Whosoever fasts in Ramadan during sickness or journey clearly disobeys the command of God. God has clearly said that the sick and travellers should not fast. A sick person should fast after recovering from sickness and the traveller should fast after completing the journey. This injunction should be heeded, for repentance is through the grace of Allah and not by a forceful exhibition of one’s physical strength. God has not specified what the length of the journey should be, nor has he set a criterion for the degree of sickness. The injunction is general and thus, if a person keeps a fast, they are succumbing to transgression against the command of God.” (Badr, 17 October 1907, p.7)
Breaking fasts at Zuhr time
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes that Miyan Rehmatullah Sahib, son of Miyan Abdullah Sanori Sahibra said, “Once Huzooras came to Ludhiana during the blessed month of Ramadan… We started our fast in Ghaus Garh before travelling to Ludhiana. Upon enquiring from my father, or having found out from someone else (which I cannot recall), Huzooras came to know that all those who had come from Ghaus Garh were fasting. Huzooras said, ‘Miyan Abdullah. Just as Allah has commanded us to fast, He has also commanded us not to do so while travelling. Therefore, you should all break your fasts.’ This occurred after the Zuhr prayer.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 125)
Breaking fast after Asr
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes that Miyan Abdullah Sanori Sahibra once told me, “Once in the early days, during the month of Ramadan, a guest came to stay with the Promised Messiahas. He was fasting at the time and most of the day had already passed. Perhaps the time for Asr had also passed. Huzooras instructed him to open his fast. He replied that the day was about to end and questioned the necessity for breaking the fast so late. Huzooras answered, ‘You wish to please Allah with your stubbornness, while Allah is not pleased by obstinacy but by obedience. When He has stated that a traveller must not fast then they should not fast.’ Upon this, the guest opened his fast.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 97)
Fasting on a journey and having to break it
Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmad Kapurthalvira relates, “Once, Hazrat Munshi Aroray Khan, Hazrat Khan Sahib Muhammad Khan and I visited the Promised Messiahas in Ludhiana. It was the month of Ramadan and I was fasting, whereas the others were not. When we met Hazrat Sahibas, there was very little time left until sunset. They told Hazrat Sahibas, ‘Zafar Ahmad is fasting’. Hazrat Sahibas rushed inside and brought a sweet drink and instructed me to break my fast. ‘Fasting whilst on a journey is not required.’ Thus, I obeyed the instruction.
“Later, since we were settled there, we began fasting. At iftari [time for breaking of the fast], Hazrat Sahibas brought three glasses on a big tray. As we were about to open the fast, I said to Huzooras, ‘What good will one glass do for Munshi Ji (Munshi Arorey Khan Sahib)?’ Huzooras smiled and immediately went back [to the kitchen] and brought a big pitcher full of a sweet drink and offered it to Munshi Ji. Munshi Ji finished the entire pitcher believing that Hazrat Sahibas himself was feeding him with his hand.” (Ashab-e-Ahmad, Vol. 4, p. 224)
Breaking a fast on journey
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes that Miyan Fazl Muhammad Sahib (shopkeeper, Mahalla Dar-ul-Fazl) wrote to him saying, “During litigation with Maulvi Muhammad Hussein Sahib Batalvi, in a court hearing, we had to go to Dhariwal. It was a hot summer’s day and in the month of Ramadan. Many friends had convened at Dhariwal, many of whom were fasting. One of the influential chieftains (who was a lady) extended an invitation to the Promised Messiahas. Huzooras accepted the invitation. The chieftess presented sweet rice alongside other foods. Some companions asked Huzooras regarding their fasts. Huzooras said, ‘It is not permissible to fast while on a journey.’ Therefore, all of the companions broke their fasts.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 303)
Disregard of mockery for not fasting on a journey
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes that Malik Maula Baksh Sahib (Pensioner) through Maulvi Abdur Rehman Sahib Mubashir wrote:
“The Promised Messiahas once came to Amritsar in the month of Ramadan and his lecture took place in Mando Babu Ghanya Lal (now known as Vande Mataram Pal). Due to the journey, Huzooras had not kept a fast. During the lecture, Mufti Fazl-ur-Rahman Sahib presented a cup of tea. Huzooras did not notice it and so, Mufti Sahib moved it forward. Still, Huzooras remained occupied in his lecture. Then Mufti Sahib placed the cup right in front of Huzooras, upon which Huzooras took a sip of the tea. This led to an uproar within the audience. Is this the sanctity of Ramadan? He doesn’t even fast! People began talking all sorts of nonsense. The lecture came to a halt and Huzooras receded behind the curtains. The vehicle was brought to the second exit door. Huzooras sat in it. Chaos erupted. People started to throw bricks and stones shattering one of the glass windows of the vehicle, however Huzooras reached his destination safe and sound. Later, it was revealed that a non-Ahmadi maulvi had said, ‘Today millions deem Mirza to be a prophet’ but I myself did not hear this.
“We left the building with Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra and mentioned to him that people were still pelting bricks and stones and that he should wait a while. He replied, ‘The one who they were targeting has now left. Why would want to hit me?’
“As it was Mufti Fazl-ur-Rehman Sahib’s presentation of tea which caused this chaos, everyone would ask him, ‘Why did you do that?’ I also asked him this. The poor man became tired of hearing this. The late Miyan Abdul Khaliq Sahib informed me that when the matter was presented to Huzooras that Mufti Sahib had disrupted the lecture, Huzooras said: ‘Mufti sahib did nothing wrong. It is a command of Allah that during journeys, fasts should not be kept. Allah granted me an opportunity to carry out and exhibit this command to the masses, which makes Mufti Sahib a hero.’”
(Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, p. 147)
Fasting while on a journey but temporarily settling somewhere
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra says:
“A question has been asked about the Promised Messiahas, giving an edict about the observance of a fast by a sick person or a traveler and that a verdict of disobedience be put upon them, while at the same time, an announcement on my behalf has been published in Al Fazl saying that those Ahmadis who journey here for Jalsa Salana can observe fasts, however if somebody does not fast, there is no harm in it.
“First of all, I wish to clarify that no edict of mine regarding this issue has been published in Al Fazl, though an edict of the Promised Messiahas was published which was narrated by me.
“The fact of the matter is that in the early days of my Khilafat, I used to forbid fasting on journeys because I had witnessed the Promised Messiahas not permitting travelers to observe fasts.
“Once I observed that Mirza Yaqub Baig Sahib happened to come in Ramadan while fasting. As soon as he arrived around Asr prayer time, the Promised Messiahas made him break his fast, saying that keeping a fast while on a journey is forbidden. This gave rise to an extended discussion and debate, which led Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira to think that someone could falter. Thus, the very next day, he presented a quote of Ibn-e-Arabi carrying the same explanation [as was presented by the Promised Messiahas].
“As a result of this incident, I used to forbid people from fasting on a journey. By chance, it so happened that Maulvi Abdullah Sahib Sanori once came to spend Ramadan here [in Qadian]. He said to me, ‘I have heard that you forbid the visitors not to observe fasts, while I know of an occasion when a person came to Qadian and asked the Promised Messiahas “Should I observe the fasts while staying here?” to which the Promised Messiahas replied “Yes, you may observe the fasts because Qadian is like a second home to Ahmadis.”’ Although the late Maulvi Abdullah Sahibra was a very close companion of the Promised Messiahas, I did not merely rely on his testimony. I sought the testimonies of others and realised that the Promised Messiahas permitted [Ahmadis] to fast while they resided in Qadian, though he did not permit them to keep fasts on the day of arrival and departure. For this reason, I had to abandon my previously held stance.
“When Jalsa Salana was due in Ramadan and the question arose of whether or not the visitors should fast during the days of Jalsa, an individual reported that in the time of the Promised Messiahas, when the Jalsa was held during Ramadan, they personally served sehri [breakfast] to the guests. In the given circumstances, on the basis of the edict given by the Promised Messiahas, I have permitted the visitors of Jalsa to observe fasts. Previous scholars even permitted observing fasts on journeys, and non-Ahmadi maulvis of today do not consider modern-day travels worthy of being called a journey. Nonetheless, the Promised Messiahas forbade observing fasts during journeys, however he himself has permitted to observe fasts while staying in Qadian. Thus, it is improper to consider one of his edicts and abandon the other.” (Al Fazl, 4 January 1934, pp. 3-4)
(There is a narration in Sirat-ul-Mahdi about the above-mentioned edict.)
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra states that the wife of the late Dr Khalifa Rashiduddin Sahib, through Lajna Imaillah Qadian, narrated in writing:
“It was the year 1903 when I and the late Doctor Sahib arrived at Qadian from Roorkee for four days. The Promised Messiahas asked us ‘Were you observing fasts while on the journey?’ We replied in the negative. Huzooras provided us the room painted in pink. Doctor Sahib said that we would fast the following day. Huzooras replied, ‘Very well! But you are on a journey.’ Doctor Sahib said that we would be staying for a few days and that it was our deep desire to fast there. Huzooras replied ‘Alright. I will arrange Kashmiri parathas [fried bread] for you.’ We began wondering how the parathas would be. The time for sehri came; we had offered the Tahajjud prayer and found the Promised Messiahas himself in our room (situated in the basement) with food in his hands. Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib Sialkotira used to live on the third floor of the house. His eldest wife, Karim Bibi Sahiba, who was known as Mualviani, belonged to Kashmir. She used to make excellent parathas and Huzooras had them prepared for us by her. As soon as they were prepared, Huzooras would himself serve us with freshly cooked parathas, saying ‘Enjoy your meal.’ I felt very humbled and Doctor Sahib also felt the same, however the influence of Huzoor’sas kindness and hospitality gave us euphoric delight. In the meantime, the call for prayer was made but Huzooras said ‘There is still time to eat,’ clarifying that ‘Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
كُلُوْا وَاشْرَبُوْا حَتّٰي يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْاَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْاَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ
[Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of dawn. (Ch.2: V.188)]But mostly people do not act upon this. You may eat, there is still enough time. The call for prayer has been made early.’ Huzooras stood close as we kept on eating. Doctor Sahib would repeatedly request Huzooras to have a seat saying, ‘I will myself collect the parathas from the maid or my wife will.’ But Huzooras refused to sit and kept on showing great hospitality. The meal consisted of delicious curry and sawaiyan [sweet noodles] as well.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 2, pp. 202-203)
Hazrat Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah Sahibra states that the Promised Messiahas said about fasting:
“If somebody stays somewhere for more than three days, they may fast but they may not do so if they are staying for less than three days. If somebody who is staying for less than three days observes fasts in Qadian, then there is no need to fast again [in compensation].” (Fatawa Hazrat Syed Muhammad Sarwar Shah Sahib, Register no. 5, Dar-ul-Ifta, Rabwah)
Breaking fast upon feeling ill
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahibra states that Dr Mir Muhammad Ismail Sahibra told him:
“Once, in Ludhiana, the Promised Messiahas was observing fasts, when suddenly he felt weak and light-headed causing his limbs to turn cold. Although the sun was about to set, he broke his fast immediately. Huzooras would always adopt the simple approach in the Sharia.”
In this regard, Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra said, “Hazrat Ayeshara narrates in a Hadith that if the Holy Prophetsa ever had two lawful ways to choose from, he would choose the easiest of them.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p.637)
Permission of fasting in mild illness
Hazrat Munshi Habib-ur-Rehman Sahibra states:
“Once I happened to spend the last ashra [ten days] of Ramadan in Qadian. In those days, Huzooras regularly suffered from daytime chills. He used to feel sick, experiencing chills after Zuhr prayer. Therefore, Huzooras would join us in congregational Zuhr prayer but [due to poor health] was unable to join us in the remaining prayers. He would sit before the Zuhr prayer, waiting for worshippers. I was in a habit of reaching the place where Huzooras used to sit and not once did I miss the chance of being near him. I remember that once, I was late but by Allah’s grace, I reached near him. When Huzooras used to come for Zuhr prayer I would ask him about his health and he would reply ‘I am feeling cold’ and would sometimes say ‘You should say your prayer; I am feeling quite cold.’ Although he felt sick, he regularly observed fasts. Once, I said to Huzooras, ‘You have been suffering from a fever for quite a while, (would it not be good) if you could break your fast (at the time of fever)?’ to which Huzooras replied, ‘I do not feel any discomfort due to observing fasts, in fact it relieves me of distress, plus I do not feel hunger or thirst, though at nights I experience considerable pain and that is why I fast.’ When the fever would finally cease in the morning, Huzooras would go for a walk.”(Ashab-e-Ahmad, Vol. 10, pp. 397-398)
Practice of the Promised Messiahas on fasting in illness
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra was asked that as the Promised Messiahas suffered from poor health, whether he would observe fasts? Huzoorra replied:
“Hazrat Sahibas used to observe fasts with full enthusiasm. However, due to extreme frailty towards the end of his life and because his illness only increased with the passage of time, he did not observe fasts in the last three years of his life, i.e. 5, 6 and 7 (years 1905, 1906 and 1907 respectively).” (Al Fazl, 12 June 1922, p. 7)
Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahibra states that his mother, Hazrat Nusrat Jehan Begum Sahibara told him:
“In the year when the Promised Messiahas started experiencing episodes of fever, he did not observe fasts and offered fidya [the money given to provide food for the less-fortunate, in compensation for a fast]. In Ramadan the following year, he started observing fasts but yet again, he experienced episodes of fever after having fasted eight or nine days. Thus, he left the remaining fasts and offered fidya. Then the following year in Ramadan, he observed ten or eleven fasts when he had to abandon fasting and offered fidya. In the next Ramadan, it was his thirteenth fast when, at around Maghrib prayer, he experienced an episode of fever, which made him break his fast, abandon the remaining fasts and offer fidya. Thereafter, he continuously observed fasts in the Ramadans of the following years. In the last two or three years of his life, as he was weak, he did not observe fasts and therefore offered fidya.”
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra enquired from his mother, “After abandoning fasts in the early days due to the episodes of fever, did Huzooras ever observe fasts in place of the fasts he had missed. My mother replied ‘No, Huzooras just offered fidya.’”
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad Sahibra said, “I would like to state that the early days of experiencing episodes of migraine and chills rendered him relatively weak and his health deteriorated. Thus, when he used to abandon fasts, it appeared that he did not find the strength to be able to fast till the next month of Ramadan. Thus, in the next month of Ramadan, the overwhelming desire for worship would again make him observe fasts, but again he would have to abandon fasts after experiencing the episodes of fever, offering fidya for the remaining fasts. Allah knows best.” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Part I, p.59)
Traveler and ill person should offer fidya
The Promised Messiahas says:
“Allah the Almighty has founded the Sharia on convenience. The traveler and the sick who can afford so, instead of observing fasts should offer fidya, i.e. providing a meal to an underprivileged person.” (Badr, 7 October 1907, p. 7)
What is the objective of offering fidya?
The Promised Messiahas says:
“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)
Fidya in lieu of the fast
Hazrat Musleh Maudra 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)
To whom should fidya begiven?
A question was asked, “A person who is not physically fit to observe fasts should feed an underprivileged person as compensation, but is it permissible to contribute the expenses of that meal towards the Yatim Fund[for orphans]?
The Promised Messiahas said:
“It is one and the same thing, whether one provides a meal to an impoverished person in his own city or devotes the expenses of that meal towards a fund for orphans or the underprivileged.” (Badr, 7 February 1907, p. 4)
Labourer falls under the category of the sick
Sometimes Ramadan comes during a season when the workload increases for labourers, like planting, growing or cutting crops. Those who earn their living through such labour do not observe fasts. What is expected of such people?
The Promised Messiahas said:
“‘Al-A‘maalu bin-Niyaat’ [Deeds are judged by their motives]. Such people do not usually express fatigue. One should make a decision with complete taqwa [fear of God] and purity of heart. If replacement labourers can be arranged, then that should be done. Otherwise such people fall under the category of the sick and should complete the fasts when physically possible for them.”
The Promised Messiahas stated about,
وَ عَلَي الَّذِيْنَ يُطِيْقُوْنَهُ
[And for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty … (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.185)]
“This points towards those people who do not bear the strength.”
(Badr, 26 September 1907, p. 7)
What age should one start fasting?
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra states, “In my opinion, it is a crime to make a child, under the age of twelve, fast; also, to make a child between the ages of twelve and fifteen fast is wrong. One should try to obse as many fasts as possible around the age of fifteen and by the age of eighteen, fasting should be considered obligatory.
“I remember when we were young, we also wished to fast but the Promised Messiahas would not permit us, and instead of stressing and urging us to fast, he would describe to us its grandeur and sanctity.” (Al Fazl, 11 April 1925, p. 11)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra writes:
“It should be remembered that the Sharia prohibits young children from observing fasts, but as they approach the age of puberty, they should start experiencing some fasts. From what I remember, the Promised Messiahas permitted me to fast for the first time at the age of twelve or thirteen. However, some foolish people force their children to fast at the age of six or seven, thinking that they will be rewarded for it. This is not an act worthy of reward; it is cruelty, because this is the age of growth and development. Yes, approaching puberty is an age when fasting almost becomes obligatory. In that age, it is important that children are made to experience the fast. If we look at the permission and practice of the Promised Messiahas, we realise that one should begin to practice fasting at the age of twelve or thirteen, experiencing some every year. This should be practiced until they reach the age of eighteen, which, in my opinion, is the age when one should begin fasting. The first year when I experienced fasting, the Promised Messiahas permitted me to fast only for one day. In that age, children desire to fast and thus, they yearn to experience even more fasts, but it is the duty of parents to stop them. Then there comes an age when the parents should develop bravery in their children by encouraging them to observe some fasts, while at the same time seeing that they do not offer too many. Those who are around them should not object as to why they do not observe all the fasts, because if children observe all the fasts in that age, they will not be able to fast later. In the same way, there are some children who are naturally weaker. I have observed when some people bring their children to meet me that they will say they are fifteen years old but they only look seven or eight. In my view, those children may be fit to regularly fast at the age of twenty-one. In contrast, a strong child at the age of fifteen may be the same as an eighteen-year-old physically, but if he takes my words that the age to regularly fast is eighteen then he will neither wrong me nor God Almighty, he will be doing an injustice to his own self. In the same way, if a young child does not fast and people verbally object, then they are being unjust upon their own selves.” (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 285)
Prohibition of fasting at a young age
Hazrat Nawab Mubaraka Begum Sahibara writes:
“The Promised Messiahas disliked that a child should fast at a young age, before attaining maturity. He would say that observing one or two fasts was enough. When Hazrat Amma Janra [noble wife of the Promised Messiahas] made me observe my first fast, she hosted a generous iftari in which she invited all the women of the Jamaat to dinner. After that, two or three years later in Ramadan, I kept a fast and told the Promised Messiahas that I had kept a fast. He was sitting in a room at the time and on a nearby stool were two pans [a South Asian sweet snack comprising betel leaf with fennel, lime and rose petals], probably made by Hazrat Amma Janra. He picked up a pan, handed it to me and said, ‘Eat this. You are weak and should not fast yet, so break your fast.’ Accordingly, I ate the pan, but I also added that Saleha (who was our aunt and the revered wife of our youngest uncle) was also fasting and that she should also be made to break her fast. The Promised Messiahas replied, ‘Call her as well.’ So, I called her. She came, and Huzooras handed her the second pan saying, ‘Here, eat this. You do not have a fast.’ I was approximately ten years of age then.” (Tahrirat-e-Mubaraka, pp. 227-228)
Six fasts of Shawal
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra said that he heard from his mother [Hazrat Nusrat Jehan Begum Sahibara]:
“The Promised Messiahas would narrate to us the details of those days in his youth when he found out or was given the hint that in order to progress in his field, one must fast. He would tell us, ‘Then, I fasted for six months incessantly and did not let anyone know that I was fasting, whether they were family members or friends. When breakfast would arrive from the house, I would pass it on to a needy person but I would eat dinner.’”
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra asked his mother if Huzooras would offer nafli [supererogatory] fasts in his later years, to which she said, “Even in his later days Huzooras would observe nafli fasts, especially the six fasts of Shawal which he would offer religously. If ever he needed to pray for something exceptional, he would fast. However, in the last two or three years of his life, the Promised Messiahas could not fast even in Ramadan, due to weakness and frailty.” Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra added that the Promised Messiahas mentioned in his book Kitab-ul-Bariyya that he fasted for a period of eight to nine months consecutively. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 14)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra said:
“It was the way of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa that he would observe six fasts in the month of Shawal after Eid. It is incumbent on our Jamaat to revive this practice. Once, Hazrat Sahibas made preparations for all of Qadian to observe the six fasts after Eid in a manner that would resemble Ramadan. In the end, because the Promised Messiahas had reached old age and would remain ill, he could not fast for two or three years. Those of you who possess no knowledge should listen and those who are careless should become alert that aside from those who are sick or weak, everyone should observe the six fasts [of Shawal]. If they are unable to observe the six fasts one after the other, they may fast by taking breaks between days.” (Al Fazl, 8 June 1922, p. 7)
Looking in a mirror whilst fasting
A question was presented to the Promised Messiahas as to whether one is allowed to look in a mirror while fasting. The Promised Messiahas replied: “It is allowed.” (Badr, 7 February 1907, p. 4)
Applying oil to hair or beard while fasting
The Promised Messiahas was asked if it was permissible to apply oil to one’s hair or beard while fasting. The Promised Messiahas replied, “It is permissible.” (Badr, 7 February 1907, p. 4)
Using eye-drops while fasting
The Promised Messiahas was asked if a person who is fasting and has an ailment in his eye is allowed to use eye-drops? The Promised Messiahas replied: “The question itself is invalid; the one who is sick is not instructed to fast.” (Badr, 7 February 1907, p. 4)
Using fragrance while fasting
It was asked if a person who is fasting is allowed to apply fragrance? The Promised Messiahas replied, “It is allowed.” (Badr, 7 February 1907, p. 4)
Applying surma [kohl] while fasting
The question was asked whether one who is fasting may apply surma [kohl] to their eyes. The Promised Messiahas replied, “It is makruh (disliked). What is the urgency that one should apply surma during the day? It can be applied at night.” (Badr, 7 February 1907, p. 4)
Akmal Sahib of Goleki wrote to the Promised Messiahas asking that “although it is emphasised to wake up during the night and pray, but generally labourers and farmers struggle to do so. Is it possible that they offer the eleven rak‘aat [units] in the latter portion of the night rather than in the beginning?” The Promised Messiahas replied, “There is no harm, you may do so.” (Badr, 18 October 1906, p. 4)
Rak‘aat [units] of Tarawih
It was asked concerning the Tarawih prayer that as it is Tahajjud, instead of offering twenty rak‘aat, what was the instruction, because Tahajjud with the Witr prayer is only eleven or thirteen rak‘aat. The Promised Messiahas replied, “The constant practice of the Holy Prophetsa was to offer eight rak‘aat during the time of Tahajjud and this is the best way. However, it is also permissible to offer them in the earlier portion of the night. There is a narration that the Prophetsa offered them in the first part of the night. Twenty rak‘aat were offered afterwards but the practice of the Holy Prophetsa was what I just mentioned.” (Badr, 6 February 1908, p. 7)
Tarawih is Tahajjud
Someone wrote a letter to Hazrat Sahibas the summary of which was the question: How should one offer prayers on a journey and what is the commandment regarding Tarawih? The Promised Messiahas replied, “Sunnat prayers are to be offered in sets of two rak‘aat on a journey. Tarawih is also a sunnat [practice of the Prophetsa], thus you should perform it. Sometimes you may read it at home alone because Tarawih is Tahajjud and is not a new prayer. You can say your Witr as you please.” (Badr, 26 December 1907, p. 6)
Correcting a Hafiz during Tarawih prayer
The question was asked if it was permissible for one who was not a Hafiz to look from the Quran and correct the Imam during Tarawih in Ramadan? Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra replied, “I have not seen a fatwa [edict] of the Promised Messiahas in this regard.”
Upon hearing this, Maulvi Muhammad Ismail Sahib (Maulvi Fazil) replied that the Promised Messiahas had permitted it. Huzoorra said, “If it is allowed then it can be of great benefit. Arrangements can be made for not just one person to sit during the duration of the prayer and listen to the Imam, rather four men can do so, each of whom listen to two separate rak‘aat, thus each of them would participate in six rak‘aat each.”
It was asked whether fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] allowed for such circumstances? Huzoorra replied:
“The actual purpose is for people to get into the habit of listening to the Holy Quran, and the fatwa of the Promised Messiahas is only out of need or special circumstances, like the fatwa concerning a person who cannot stand and pray to sit and pray, and if they cannot sit then they should lie down and pray. In the same way if one has dirt on their clothes and is not able to wash it, then they are permitted to pray in that condition. This is not an issue [of fiqh], rather a question of necessity. (Al Fazl, 21 February 1930, p. 12)
Accidentally consuming food or drink does not invalidate a fast
Someone wrote a letter saying that they began mistakenly eating in oblivion during Ramadan around sahoor [breakfast] time. Upon going outside, they realised it was the time of the break of dawn. They asked if those fasts should be kept again. The Promised Messiahas replied, “If one eats or drinks mistakenly during their fast, they do not have to obse another fast as compensation.” (Al Hakam, 24 February 1907, p. 14)
Fasting on the day of the Holy Prophet’ssa demise
Question: Is it necessary to fast on the Prophet’ssa demise?
Answer: “It is not necessary.” (Badr, 14 March 1907, p. 5)
Are the fasts of Muharram compulsory?
It was asked if it is necessary to observe the first ten fasts of Muharram? The Promised Messiahas replied, “It is not compulsory.” (Badr, 14 March 1907, p. 5)
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes that his mother [Hazrat Nusrat Jehan Begum Sahibara] related to him, “I never saw the Promised Messiahas observe E‘tikaf [practice of the Prophetsa of seclusion and immersion in prayers in the last ten days of Ramadan].” Hazrat Miyan Abdullah Sahib Sanorira also relayed the same to Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra. (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 62)
Talking during E‘tikaf
Question: While performing E‘tikaf, can one speak regarding worldly matters such as their business and trade?
Answer: “It if is extremely urgent, then one may do so. They are, however, permitted go outside to visit the sick or to use the toilet.” (Badr, 21 February 1907, p. 5)
Guidance concerning E‘tikaf
Dr Ibadullah Sahib of Amritsar and Khawaja Kamaluddin Sahib (lawyer) were both observing E‘tikaf. The Promised Messiahas said to them, “It is not compulsory that one must just sit inside [the mosque] and not come out. You may sit on the roof where there is sunlight and can talk about important matters; here, on the ground, it gets cold. One must take care of important aspects; in reality, all the works of a believer are forms of worship.” (Al Badr, 2 January 1903, p. 74)
Leaving E‘tikaf and attending a court case
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra writes that Maulvi Sher Ali Sahibra said, “Once during the time of the Promised Messiahas, Hakim Fazluddin Sahib Bhervi was observing E‘tikaf. During those days, he had to leave E‘tikaf to attend a court case. As he was about to break his E‘tikaf and leave for the court around Asr time, the Promised Messiahas smiled and said, ‘If you were to leave for a court case, then what was the need to observe E‘tikaf in the first place?’” (Sirat-ul-Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 97)
(Translated by Qasim Chaudhry (Jamia Ahmadiyya Canada), Fazal Malik (Prince Edward Islands, Canada), Serjeel Ahmed (Pohnpei, Micronesia)