Fasting by a Traveller

The wisdom behind fasting

Benefits of Fasting

What Is The Philosophy Of Fast?

Fasting by a Traveller

1723. A traveller for whom it is obligatory to shorten a four Rak”ats prayers to two Rak”ats, should not fast. However, a traveller who offers full prayers, like, a person who is a traveller by profession or who goes on a journey for a haraam purpose, should fast while travelling.

1724. There is no harm in travelling during the month of Ramadhan, but it is Makrooh to travel during the month to evade fasting. And similarly, it is Makrooh to travel before the 24th of Ramadhan unless travelling is undertaken for the purpose of Hajj or Umrah or for some important work.

1725. * If it is obligatory on a person to observe a particular fast other than the fasts of Ramadhan, like, if he has undertaken to fast on behalf of someone against payment, or if it is the fast of the third day of I”tekaf, he cannot travel on that day, and if he is already on journey then he should make a Niyyat to stay there for ten days, if possible, and keep the fast. And if it is an obligatory fast of Nadhr, travelling on that day is permissible, and it is not necessary to make an intention of staying there for ten days. Though, it is better not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary, and if he is already on a journey, he should have the Niyyat to stay there for 10 days.

1726. If a person makes a vow to observe a Mustahab fast and does not specify any day for it, he cannot keep the fast while travelling. However, if he makes a vow that he will observe fast on a particular day during a journey, he should observe that fast during the journey. Also, if he makes a vow that he will observe a fast on a particular day, whether he is journeying on that day or not, he should observe the fasts on that day even if he travels.

1727. A traveller can observe Mustahab fasts in Madinah for three days with the Niyyat of praying for the fulfilment of his wish, and as a precaution, those three days be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

1728. If a person does not know that the fast of a traveller is invalid and observes fast while journeying, and learns about the rule during the day, his fast becomes void, but if he does not learn about the rule till Maghrib, his fast is valid.

1729. If a person forgets that he is a traveller or forgets that the fast of a traveller is void, and observes fast while journeying, is fast is invalid.

1730. * If a fasting person travels after Zuhr, he should, as a precaution, complete his fast. If he travels before Zuhr and had an intention from the previous night to do so, he cannot fast on that day. As a precaution, he cannot fast on that day even if he had no intention to travel from the previous night. In both the cases, he cannot break the fast till he has reached the limit of Tarakkhus. If he does, he will be liable to give Kaffarah.

1731. If a traveller in the month of Ramadhan, regardless of whether he was travelling before Fajr, or was fasting and then undertook the journey, reaches his hometown before Zuhr or a place where he intends to stay for ten days, and if has not committed an act which invalidates a fast, he should fast on that day. But if he has committed such an act, it is not obligatory on him to fast on that day.

1732. * If a traveller reaches his hometown after Zuhr, or a place where he intends to stay for ten days, he cannot fast on that day.

1733. It is Makrooh for a traveller and for a person who cannot fast owing to some excuse, to have sexual intercourse or to eat or drink to his fill, during the day time in Ramadhan.

The wisdom behind fasting

There are reasons and wisdom behind every single act in Islam, no matter how small. In time we may know the wisdom for behind some acts, and for others we may never know. Salaat, for instance, is a daily training for purifying the believer and reminding him that he is a member in a community of believers. Fasting, on the other hand, is an annual institution containing all conceivable attributes for human excellence. It is a training for the body and soul, a renewal of life, encouraging the spirit of sharing and giving. The following are some of the general benefits:

Self-Restraint (Taqwaa)

Allah (SWT) states: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may (learn) self restraint.”(Al-Qur`an, 2:183)

This verse indicates the first lesson or wisdom to be gained in fasting, is self-restraint, (Taqwa) or the fear of Allah (SWT). That is to say, fasting instills in the heart the essence of consciousness of the Creator, moral courage both in secret and manifest, guiding the heart, the seat of emotion from spoilage and moral indecency.

It has been reported that Abdul Malik bin Al-Asma’e was in Makkah when Ramadan came, so he decided to leave for Taif to escape its heat. On the way, he met a Bedouin who told him that he was heading for Makkah. Abdul Malik asked him, “Aren’t you afraid of Makkan heat in Ramadan?”. The Bedouin replied, “It is from the heat (hellfire) I am running away.”

Fasting instillstaqwaa, fear of Allah, and does so by controlling two aspects of the human body, which are the root causes of human downfall, namely the stomach and the private parts. The human body is constructed with the need to please the two of them and, in the process, man transgresses the rights of others, fellow human beings, and the commandments of Allah are violated. Fasting is equivalent to life, because with the level of taqwaa being raised, the person avoids the sins which are detrimental to life itself.

Behavior Modification

One of the most important things fasting affords the observer is helping him control or change his or her habits, the reason being human life is an embodiment of acquired habits. To change or control a habit is to wage a war on yourself. Ifjihaad is mandatory on every believer because it is the peak of the essence in Islam, and it entails changing habits, the fasting is the training ground for the inevitable that will occur. The believer cannot wage a war and hope to defeat an enemy if he or she cannot wage war against his soul. Thus, the faster is admitted to the compulsory training opened only in Ramadan, the learning in this school is mandatory and succeeding or scoring high is mandatory, otherwise it is like you never entered. The Prophet (saas) said: “Many a faster receives naught from his fast except the pain of hunger and thirst.” (

If he scores high the reward is guaranteed: “Three people’s prayers are not rejected-among them – the faster, until he breaks.” (Ibn Hiban) Now, does a Ramadan fast control one`s habits? Simple, two of the most important habits are food and drink. An average person eats three meals a day, 21 meals a week. The way the fast is structured, with its basic and drastic alteration of eating habits, a faster takes light meals early in the morning and late in the evening. If the believer can control these two habits, food and drink, it will undoubtedly be easy for him to control other habits, including the habits of smoking, drug abuse and illicit sex. Do you not see that, if you can control your tongue, hands and all other parts of your body, it will be easy for you to apply the same training for the rest of the year.

Heath Care

The benefits of fasting transcend guiding the faster from idle talk and indecent acts. It is a sentinel against disease, provided the faster follows the strict dietary rule: eat during fast breaking and avoiding over-eating. Allah (SWT) states: “…Eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not wasters.”(Al-Qur`an, 7:31)

A great deal of ailments originate from stomach indigestion. This is why the Messenger of Allah (saas) says: “The son of Adam will never fill a container with something worse and evil than his stomach. It will suffice him some morsels (food) that will keep him on his feet, otherwise, he should divide his stomach into three parts: one third for his food, the other for his drink and the other third for his breath.” (Ibn Hibban)

This hadith indicates that the stomach is the origin of harmful bacteria. Even in the age of sophisticated machines, you can hardly find a machine so fragile but yet so remarkably durable and efficient like the stomach. This is the machine that receives food particles, processes and refines them, and distributes the products to different parts of the body. This is a lifelong operation. For the non-faster, the stomach will have no chance for rest. When the stomach is empty, as a result of fasting, it gets well-desired rest, to renew and rejuvenate its energy. With the fasting, the stomach is forced to go through a discharge whereby harmful residue are eliminated through perspiration as the body searches for food during fast.

During fast, the system of secretion is organized, and this in turn benefits the blood pressure, inhibiting hardening of the arteries. The heart and kidney functions are enhanced as the work load tapers off. The fast helps to correct the problem of obesity and diabetes. Doctors over the years have used fasting as a prescription for certain ailments.

There was a discussion between Ali Bin Husain bin Waquid (raa) and a Christian physician to the Khalifah, Haroon Ar-Rasheed, about Islam’s outlook on the science of medicine and health care. The physician said to Ibn Waquid: “There is not in your Book,Al-Qur`an, anything about medicine. For if Al-Qur`an is a book of science, what about this science?. Aren’t there two kinds of sciences: the science of the body and the science of the soul?” Ibn Waquid responded: “Allah, the Most High has combined both sciences in half of a verse, when He states: “…Eat and drink but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Al-Qur`an, 7:31)

The physician said: “Why, then, has nothing been mentioned about medicine from the mouth of your Messenger?” Ibn Waquid replied: “Our Messenger (saas), has combined the sciences about medicine in a few words when he says: “The stomach is the house for disease and prevention is the essence of medicine.” The Christian physician then said: “Then your book,Al-Qur`an, and your Prophet Muhammad left nothing about medicine for Jalienas (a famous physician of the ancients).” (Arkanul Arba`ah by Abul Hasan Nadwi)

An American physician published a report on fasting and its benefits saying: “It is mandatory on every person who is sick to restrain from food certain days in a year whether he be wealthy or poor because if bacteria can find food in abundance in the body, it will grow and multiply. But with fasting it becomes weak.” He then praised Islam. It should be considered as the wisest religion, for as it mandated fasting it has mandated health care. He continued: “Indeed, Muhammad, who brought this religion, was the best physician who succeeded in his teachings, for he called for prevention before ailment, that is apparent in fasting and the nightly prayer (Taraweeh) that Muslims observe after fast breaking every day of Ramadan, for these physical acts contain big benefits in digesting food.” (Arkanul Arba`ah by Abul Hasan Nadwi)


Fasting helps in conditioning the heart, the soul, and the body on the virtues of patience, tenacity, and firmness in the face of adversity. Patience is the pinnacle of self-mastery, discipline and spiritual agility. Patience is to turn the phrase “I can’t” into “I can.” It is to say, the difficult is easy. It is an inner and psychological demolition of things perceived by others as impossible. Fasting helps in all these shades for the virtuous, patient person because, the conditioning is that if a believer can exercise patience, and forsake gourmet food and drink, and the exhilaration we enjoy while eating or drinking our favorites, as well as marital association, the gratifying of other normal appetites for a whole day, for a month the realization that the barrier between you and food is your consciousness of your Creator, can better make you able to exercise patience in virtually everything in life.

Social Outlook

Socially, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor, the family and the whole society. This is a period in which the rich have first-hand experience of what it is to be poor, the pains the indigent suffers in normal living conditions. The process of disciplining resulting from Islamic fasting, instills in the rich the virtue of mercy, Rahmah, which is very important in terms of social well – being and proliferation of harmony. Allah bestows his mercy upon those who themselves are merciful to others. “Those who are merciful to others, the Merciful will have mercy upon them,” the Messenger said. He continued, “Have mercy upon those on earth, and those in heaven will have mercy upon you.” (Abu Dawud/Tirmidhi)

Family Ties

Fasting strengthens family ties, especially in that the family is an endangered institution in western society. It helps the family gather together to break fast, at Iftar, and eatsahuur together at least twice a day for a month. The family even makes Salaat, together with the father as Imam.

Fasting enhances and energizes friendship, as Ramadan is known as the month of invitations and visitations. Friends, family members and neighbors extend invitations to each other to come to their homes to have Iftar together. The Messenger said, “When a believer invites you, you should respond.” Besides, Muslims gather together in the Masajid fortaraweeh andta’aleem.

Benefits of Fasting

In Islam, the spiritual, social, economic, political and psychological benefits of fast are interrelated, each affecting the other. Rituals regulate the Muslims’ social and individual life and bring them closer to their Creator. A combination of fast, prayers, and meditation may be the very best dose for any and all psychological, financial, and spiritual ills from which one may be suffering. They purify the soul, cleanse the intention, and bring about an abundance of good from the Almighty Who is ever-watching over us and Who desires nothing but good for His sincere servants. On p. 353, Vol. 94, of Bihar al-Anwar, al-Majlisi traces a saying of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (as) saying that if one fasts at the beginning of a month, reciting in the first rek’at the Fatiha once and al-Ikhlas thirty times (i.e., as many as the maximum days of the lunar month), and the Fatiha once and al-Qadr thirty times in the second rek’at, following that with offering the poor something by way of charity, it will dispel everything about which he is apprehensive during the entire month. Two other rek’ats are described in the same reference as having even a greater effect on a believer’s life: Imam al-Jawad (as) is quoted saying,

Whoever offers two optional rek’ats at the very beginning of the month of Ramadan, reciting in the first the Fatiha and the Fath, and in the other whatever surah (Qur’anic chapter) he likes, Allah, the most Exalted One, will not let him suffer anything bad during his entire year, and he will remain thus protected till the next year

During the month of Ramadan, the believers learn to curb their desires and check them against transgression, extravagance, and the yielding to the lower desires, all of which degenerate man and bring him to the pit of self-destruction and annihilation. Fast fosters a strong will, teaches patience and self-discipline, the ability to bear hardship and tolerate hunger and thirst. In short, it brings about a clear victory over one’s illicit desires and selfish impulses. It regulates and systemizes the energies of instincts. It trains the body to submit to lofty spiritual impulses. It safeguards the body’s health by protecting it against extravagance. It grants its organs a respite so that they may be ready to resume their activities. As medical science has proved, it is a medicine for many bodily and nervous ailments. It is a moral education, a nourishment of supreme virtues. It teaches the believer to abandon vices, to control emotions and instincts, to curb the tongue against saying what is wrong or inappropriate and the conscience against contemplating upon wrongdoing or subversion. It promotes the spirit of unity among members of the fasting commu- nity; it teaches them humility and humbleness and instills within them the feeling of equality before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The rich have to observe it as well as the poor, the women as well as the men, the influential and powerful as well as the weak and downtrodden: they all have to observe the fast. It promotes the spirit of charity and compassion towards the poor and the needy, and it reminds each believer of the needs of other believers. Muslims share with each other Allah’s blessings unto them. The believers strengthen their ties with the Almighty, since they express through fast a continuous desire to obey His Will and carry out His commandments. They also strengthen their ties with one another, since the month of Ramadan is the month of giving. It is the month for productive social inter- activity. Islam places a great deal of emphasis on moral excellence during this holy month. The holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) has said,

One who, while fasting, neither guards his tongue from telling lies nor refrains from doing bad deeds does not respect his fast, while Allah does not approve of mere abstention from food… When you fast, you should not speak ill of anybody, nor should you be boisterous or noisy. If anybody speaks ill of you or tries to pick a quarrel with you, do not respond to him in the same manner; rather, simply tell him that you are fasting.

The institute of the fast is one of the signs of the Almighty’s mercy on those who adhere to His divine creed, and it is never meant to put a hardship on anybody. The Almighty does not gain any benefit from putting hardship on anyone; on the contrary, He always tries to pave the way of happiness for His servants in this life and the life to come, and sometimes He even “pushes” them to do what is good for them, as is the case with making the fast of the month of Ramadan obligatory on every believing man and woman. But if you afford this great month a sincere and profound welcome, you will receive your rewards in many, many ways both in the short life of this fleeting world and in the eternal abode, Insha-Allah. Page 83, Vol. 1, of the first edition of al-Kulaylu’s Al-Kafi, as al-Majlisi tells us on p. 354, Vol. 94, of his own Bihar al-Anwar, citing his own father quoting his mentor Shaykh the renowned faqih Ali ibn Muhammad al-Madayni quoting Sa’eed ibn Hibatullah al-Rawandi quoting Ali ibn Abdel- Samad al-Naisapuri quoting al-Dooryasti quoting Shaykh al-Mufid saying that on the first day of the month of Ramadan, one ought to supplicate thus:

Lord! The month of Ramadan has arrived, and You have required us to fast during it and revealed the Qur’an as guidance to people and a clear distinction of the guidance and the right criteria. O Lord! Help us observe its fast; accept the same from us; receive our fast from and safeguard the same for us in an ease from You and good health; surely You can do everything.

Taken from: Fast of the Month of Ramadan

Philosophy and Ahkam

By Yasin T. al Jibouri

International Islamic Society of Virginia, Inc.

What Is The Philosophy Of Fast?

Some of their important benefits are that they make man’s soul kind, strengthen his determination and moderate his instincts.
When an individual fasts, despite his hunger and thirst, he must stay away from food, water and sexual pleasures and prove, in practice, that he is not an animal within a stable but an entity that can rein in his wild soul and overcome his lust and carnal desires.
In fact, the most important philosophy of the fasts is this spiritual effect; man, who has a variety of food and drinks at his disposal and can reach out for them the moment he experiences thirst or hunger, is like the trees that grow near the rivers, seeking support of the walls of the gardens. These fondled and pampered trees possess less resistance and are short-lived. If water does not reach them for a few days they immediately dry up and wither away. In contrast, the trees which grow between the rocks on the mountains or in the deserts and which are pampered from their incipience by strong storms, scorching rays of the sun and harsh winters, and are deprived of luxuries, are strong, durable and highly resistant!
Fasts act similarly with man’s soul, granting it – in exchange for temporary restrictions – a strong determination, steadfastness, and the ability to face up to hardships and severe occurrences, and since it controls the unruly instincts, it makes man’s heart pure and luminous.
In short, fasts heave man out of the world of animals and elevate him into the realm of angels, and the expression لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (so that you may guard (against evil)) in the verse 183 of the chapter al-Baqarah(1) , while mentioning the philosophy behind the fasts, also bears an allusion to all of the above realities.
The well-known tradition الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ مِنَ النَّارِ (The fast is a shield against the fire (of Hell))(2) is also a reference to this issue.
In another tradition from Imam A’li (as) we read that some companions asked the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny): What should we do to keep the Satan away from us? He (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) replied: Fasts blacken the face of the Satan; charity in the way of God breaks his back; befriending someone for the sake of God and perseverance in performing good deeds cuts his roots and seeking forgiveness severs the vein of his heart.(3)
In Nahjul Balaghah, while explaining the philosophy of the various acts of worship, Imam Ali (as), upon reaching the fasts says:
وَ الصِّيَامَ ابْتِلَاءً لِإِخْلَاصِ الْخَلْقِ
(God ordered the observance of fasts for fostering (the attribute of) sincerity within the people)) (4)
And again, in another tradition of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny), we read:
إِنَّ لِلْجَنَّةِ بَاباً يُدْعَى الرَّيَّانَ لَا يَدْخُلُ مِنْهُ إِلَّا الصَّائِمُونَ
(Paradise has a door by the name of ‘Rayyaan’ (the sated one) and none shall enter Paradise through it except those who fast).
The late Sheikh Saduq, explaining this tradition in his book Ma’ani al-Akhbaar, says: The reason for selecting this particular name for this door of Paradise is that the maximum inconvenience suffered by a person who fasts is due to thirst; when they shall pass through this door, they shall be quenched in a manner that they shall never
experience any thirst, ever again.(5)
1-يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيامُ كَما كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ‏ (Translator’s comments)
2- Bihaar al-Anwaar vol. 96, vs. 256.
3- Ibid, pg. 255.
4- Nahjul Balaghah, saying 252.
5- Bihaar al-Anwaar vol. 96, pg. 252.

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