The Etiquettes and Sunan of Fasting
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Some aspects of fasting are obligatory (fard) and others are recommended (mustahab).
We should make sure that we eat and drink something at suhoor (the time before
dawn), and that we delay it until just before the adhaan of Fajr. The Prophet
(Peace be upon him) said: ''Have suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing (barakah).''
''Suhoor is blessed food, and it involves being different from the people of
the Book. What a good suhoor for the believer is dates.'' 
One should not delay iftaar (breakfast after dusk), because the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) said: ''The people remain upon goodness so long as they do not
delay iftaar.'' 
A person should break his fast in the manner described in the hadeeth narrated
by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him): ''The Prophet (Peace be upon him)
used to break his fast with fresh dates before praying; if fresh dates were
not available, he would eat (dried) dates; if dried dates were not available,
he would have a few sips of water.''
After iftaar, it is Sunnah to recite the words reported in the hadeeth
narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both), according to
which the Prophet (Peace be upon him), when he broke his fast, would say: ''Dhahaba
adh-dhama´, wabtallat il-‘urooq, wa thabat al-ajru in shaa Allah (The thirst
has gone, the veins are flowing again, and the reward is confirmed, in shaa
Keeping away from sin, because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ''When
any of you is fasting, let him not commit any sin...''
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ''Whoever does not stop speaking
falsehood and acting in accordance with it, Allah has no need of him giving up
his food and drink.'' (Reported by Al-Bukhari, al-Fat'h, no. 1903)
The fasting person should avoid all kinds of haraam actions, such as
backbiting, obscenity and lying, otherwise his reward may all be lost. The
Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ''It may be that a fasting person gets
nothing from his fast except hunger.''
Among the things that can destroy one's hasanaat (good deeds) and cause
sayi'aat (bad deeds) to be recorded is allowing oneself to be distracted by
quiz-shows, soap operas, movies and sports matches, idle gatherings, hanging
about in the streets with evil people and time-wasters, driving around for no
purpose, and crowding the streets and sidewalks. The month of tahajjud, dhikr
and worship for many people becomes a month in which they sleep during the day
– so as to avoid feeling hunger – and spend their nights in entertainment and
indulging in their desires. This further causes them to miss their prayers and
the opportunity to pray them in congregation. Some people even greet this
month with feelings of annoyance, thinking only of the pleasures they will
miss out on. In Ramadan, some people even travel to the lands of the
disbelievers to enjoy a holiday! Even the mosques are not free from such
evils, as women also attend wearing makeup and perfume. Even the Sacred House
of Allah (Ka'bah) is not free of these ills. Some people make this month a
season for begging, even though they are not in need. Some entertain
themselves with dangerous fireworks and the like, and some of them waste their
time in the markets, wandering around the shops, or having new clothes
stitched and following fashions. Some shop owners introduce new products and
new styles in their stores during the last ten days of the month, thus keeping
people away from earning rewards and hasanaat. A person should not allow
himself to be provoked, because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ''If
someone fights him or insults him, he should say, ‘I am fasting, I am
One reason for this is to remind himself, and the other reason is to remind
the one who is provoking him. But anyone who looks at the conduct of many of
those who fast will see something quite different. It is essential to exercise
self-control and be calm, but we see the opposite among the crazy drivers who
speed up when they hear the adhaan for Maghrib. A person should not overeat,
because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ''The son of Adam fills no
vessel worse than his stomach.'' 
The wise person lives not to eat, but rather, eats to live. The best type of
food is that which is there to be used, not that which is there to be served.
People indulge in making all kinds of food (during Ramadan) and treating food
preparation as a virtual art form, and thus housewives and servants spend all
their time on making food. This keeps them away from worship, and people spend
far more on food during Ramadan than they ordinarily do. Thus the month
becomes the month of indigestion, obesity and gastric illness in which people
eat like gluttons and drink like thirsty camels. When they stand to pray
Taraaweeh (the night prayer in Ramadan) they do so reluctantly, and some of
them leave after the first two rak‘ahs.
A person should increase in his generosity by sharing knowledge, giving
charity, using one's position of authority or physical strength to help
others, and having a good attitude. Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that Ibn
‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ''The Messenger of Allah (Peace
be upon him) was the most generous of people [in doing good], and he was most
generous of all in Ramadan when Jibreel met with him; he used to meet him
every night in Ramadan and teach him the Qur'an. The Messenger of Allah (Peace
be upon him) was more generous in doing good than a blowing wind.'' 
How can people prefer stinginess to generosity and laziness to action to the
extent that they do not do their work nor treat one another properly, and they
use fasting as an excuse for all this?! Combining fasting with feeding the
poor is one of the means of attaining Paradise, as the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) said: ''In Paradise there are rooms whose outside can be seen from the
inside and the inside can be seen from the outside. Allah has prepared them
for those who feed the poor, those who are gentle in speech, those who fast
regularly, and those who pray at night when people are asleep.''
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ''Whoever gives food to a fasting person
with which to break his fast, he will have the reward equal to his (the
fasting person), without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the
Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allah have mercy on him) said, ''What is
meant is that he should feed him until he is satisfied.''
A number of the Salaf (may Allah have mercy on them) preferred the poor
over themselves when breaking their fast at the time of iftaar. Among these
were ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar, Maalik ibn Deenaar, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others.
‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar would not break his fast unless there were orphans and
poor people with him.
 Reported by al-Bukhari, Fat'h, 4/139.
 Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 2345; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/448.
 Reported by al-Bukhari, Fat'h, 4/198.
 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 3/79 and others. He said it is a ghareeb hasan
hadeeth. Classed as saheeh in al-Irwaa´, no. 922.
 Reported by Abu Dawood, 2/765; its isnaad was classed as hasan by al-Daaraqutni,
 Reported by al-Bukhari, al-Fat'h, no. 1904.
 Reported by Ibn Maajah, 1/539; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/453.
 Reported by al-Bukhari and others. Al-Fat'h, no. 1894
 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2380; he said, this is a hasan saheeh hadeeth.
 Reported by al-Bukhari, al-Fat'h, no. 6.
 Reported by Ahmad 5/343; Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 2137. Al-Albaani said in his
footnote, its isnaad is hasan because of other corroborating reports.
 Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 3/171; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/451.
 Al-Ikhtiyaaraat al-Fiqhiyyah, p. 109.
 Salaf: Our pious predecessors, particularly those of the first three
Source: Seventy Matters Related to Fasting