Sawm

THE FAST الصوم

  • Other term: Siyam الصيام
  • Literal meaning: Siyam is an Arabic word that means to abstain or to refrain or to avoid anything (i.e. movement, speaking, eating, drinking, etc.). Proof: “So eat and drink and be glad. And if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily, I have vowed a fast unto the Most Gracious (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.’” [Maryam 19:26]
  • Islamic meaning: Siyam is an act of worship which is abstaining from anything that nullify it (physical and spiritual) from dawn until sunset in Ramadan for the sake of Allah.

PROOFS OF SIYAM

  • From the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may learn self-restraint (Taqwa).“ [Al-Baqarah 2:183]
  • From the Sunnah: Part of Hadith Jibril (2nd Hadith in 40 Hadith) in which the Prophet ﷺ said: “Islam has been built on five pillars: testifying that there no (true) god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; performing the Prayers; paying the Zakat; fasting the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage to the House (in Makkah).” [Bukhari and Muslim]

2 ASPECTS OF SIYAM

  1. Physical: refraining from food, drink, sexual intimacy, smoking…
  2. Spiritual: refraining from blameworthy thoughts and mischievous acts (vices, foul language, vain talk, bad behaviour …)

2 STAGES OF SIYAM

The first stage: OPTIONAL (you have the choice to fast or not to fast, but better to fast)

 “… and as for those who can fast with difficulty (i.e. old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed poor person for everyday. But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that your fast is better for you if only you know.” [Al-Baqarah 2:184]

The second stage: OBLIGATORY (you have no choice but to follow the command)

The choice (in the 1st stage) was abrogated by the following verse: “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting but whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.” [Al-Baqarah 2:185]

2 SUB-STAGES OF THE OBLIGATORY STAGE

First stage: Sawm begins after falling asleep or after praying Isha.

But something happened between husband and wife … so another verse was revealed.

“It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of fasts. They are for you and you are the same for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He turned to you (accepted your repentance) and forgave you. So now have sexual relations with them and seek that which Allah has ordained for you (offspring), and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of  dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)…” [Al-Baqarah 2:187]

Second stage: Sawm only begins from dawn (Fajr) until sunset (Maghrib).

The first stage was abrogated by the above mentioned verse which relieved them of stage 1.

3 LEVELS OF FASTING

1. SIYAM AL-AWAM (COMMON/GENERAL) صيام العوام

  • It is the refraining of the stomach and the private parts from fulfilling their desires; fulfills the obligation but no blessings and benefits
  • The Prophet ﷺ said: “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.” [Darimi]

2. SIYAM AL-KHAWAS (SPECIFIC) صيام الخواص

  • It is the refraining of one’s gaze, tongue, hands, feet, hearing and eyes, as well as the rest of his body parts from committing sinful acts
  • It is a fasting of the limbs from anything Haram
  • The Prophet ﷺ said: “If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink.” [Bukhari,  Muslim]

3. SIYAM KHAWAS AL-KHAWAS (MORE SPECIFIC) صيام خواص الخواص

  • It is the refraining of the heart from its yearning after the worldly affairs and the thoughts which distance one away from Allah
  • It is fasting from everything apart from Allah
  • You might be doing anything (at work, cooking, etc.) but your heart and mind is with Allah