There are many people who make mistakes when they fast, because they do not understand the teachings of the religion of Islam in relation to fasting. They do not know which actions invalidate the fast, or in fact break it. Fasting is not just about abstaining from food, drink and marital relations, it incorporates many other matters as well, and it is vital that we understand these. As the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him , told us:
“Whoever Allah wants good for, He gives him understanding of the (deen) religion.”(Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Foremost amongst the sins that invalidate the fast are sins of the tongue – backbiting, slander, swearing, indecent conversation etc. Another of the mistakes commonly made is excess and wastage of food. People prepare food consisting of numerous dishes in great quantities and then at the end, the left over food is thrown into the refuse. There is no doubt that this is contrary to the teachings of Islam. Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, tells us:
“And eat and drink [freely], but do not waste, Verily, He does not love the wasteful!”(Surah Al-A’raf:31)
Everything that exceeds our needs is considered a waste, and this extends to our possessions as well as our sustenance. We will be held accountable for everything. Allah does not like extravagance. He, all praises and glory be to him, tells us:
“But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spend thrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaitan (Devil-Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Surah AL-Isra:26-27)
Likewise He tells us:
“And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those extremes.” (Surah Al-Furqan:67)
During Ramadan, our market places are filled with buyers, all of them carrying enough food and drink to feed tens of families. We actually go to excesses in terms of consumption of food in Ramadan. Yet there are families dying of hunger because they cannot find a piece of bread. They sleep under the open skies making their beds on the dirt whilst other families are afflicted with indigestion due to their extravagance. How can we realise the true essence of Ramadan like this?
Many people spend their fasting hours sleeping, the result of which is that it almost feels as if they did not fast. They pass their days in neglect of remembrance of their Lord. The wisdom of fasting is that one should experience the pangs of hunger and savour thirst in order to gain the pleasure of Allah. The one who devotes their entire day to sleep will not attain this.
Amongst those who fast are those who play games that are, at very least, regarded as despicable in Islamic Law. They lose their valuable time in futile games which they claim help them to relax, when Allah, all praises and glory be to Him says:
“Did you then think that We created you in mere idle play, and that you would not have to return to Us? (Surah Al-Mu’minun:115)
“Leave to themselves all those who, beguiled by the life of this world, have made play and passing delights their religion” (Surah Al-An’am:70)
There are also those who fast who spend their entire nights awake in futile activities, amusement and play, without offering a single prayer to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. Among the worst mistakes made by those who fast is the failure to perform the collective prayer for the most trifling excuses, such as feeling tired. This is evidence of the hypocrisy in their hearts.
The are other still who have no relationship or closeness with the Qur’an in Ramadan. They read many things, in newspapers, on the internet, or in books, but they do not read the book of Allah, the Sublime. This is certainly a great loss.
Others, make no effort to do good for themselves by giving in charity. They do not honour their homes by allowing others to break the fast with them. Their doors are shut and their fists are tight. Allah says to them:
“All that is with you is bound to come to an end, whereas that which is with Allah is everlasting” (Surah An-Nahl:96)
Apart from those categories already cited, there are those who pass the month of fasting without offering the Taraweeh prayer. They think that their performance of the compulsory prayers is enough. These same people are however, never satisfied with just the necessities of this world, they seek the non-essential items as well. On the Day of Regret, when the gains of the world will have no value, and we would give the world and all that is in it for the chance to perform two rakahs of prayer, this will be an immense loss for them.
Finally, there are those who fast, but inconvenience their families with the responsibility of making so much food that they are left with very little time for the Qur’an and remembrance of Allah. If their demands were limited to necessities, their families would surely find more time to worship Allah.
O Allah! We ask you to increase us and not decrease us, honour us and not disgrace us, and to enable us to avoid all these common mistakes made during Ramadan. Ameen.