Most of us know the fundamentals of Ramadan, including refraining from consuming food and water, fasting from sunrise until sunset, and focusing on good deeds and extra acts of worship such as performing tarawih prayers. However, there are also a lot of things concerning what we can or cannot do during Ramadan that are more ambiguous and not as clear, even for those that have been fasting for years!
Well, fret not, because we're here to help! We'll be putting to rest once and for all some Ramadan myths that frequently get asked with the help of Ustaz Rauuf and Ustaz Fadhlullah from the Asatizah Youth Network. By debunking these myths, we can all hopefully learn and be better-informed when carrying out our fasts and other deeds this Ramadan ?
Myth 1: Can pregnant women fast?
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If a mother is healthy, confident in the wellbeing of herself and her baby and does not go against the recommendations of her doctor, then yes, she can fast. If along the way, a mother opts not to fast for the sake of her health, she will have to make up for the fast. If, however, she opts not to fast for the sake of her baby, she has to make up for the fast as well as pay fidyah (i.e. give food or its monetary equivalent to a poor person for each day they had not fasted).
Myth 2: Is eight rakaat the minimum for tarawih prayers?
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Generally, for every sunnah prayer, the minimum number of rakaat required is two. Given that tarawih prayers are sunnah prayers, this means that we can actually do a minimum of two rakaat of tarawih. Tarawih prayers are usually done in 8, 20 or 36 rakaat, which would be ideal, however, doing two rakaat would still be permissible.
#Myth 3: Can we still eat during imsak (the last 10 minutes before Subuh)?
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Yes, we can. Imsak serves as an indicator or reminder that Subuh is approaching, however, we are only required to stop eating or drinking once we've entered the Subuh prayer time.
#Myth 4: If I am fasting on a long-haul flight, when can I break my fast?
If you have already started fasting in one location before embarking on a flight, you can break your fast upon witnessing the sunset while on the plane.
#Myth 5: Will my fast still be valid if I forgot to say my intention the night before?
Yes, your fast will still be valid insyaAllah. It is not a requirement to recite the intention formally - so long as you have the intention to fast the next day, the fast will be valid.
#Myth 6: Can we still pay back the fasts that we missed from two (or more) years back?
If we have missed our fasts from two, three or even five years back, we must repay the missed fasts and at the same time pay fidyah with the amount depending on the number of days we have missed.
#Myth 7: Will an injection cause our fast to be nullified?
No, injections for medical purposes do not invalidate the fast.
#Myth 8: Can we brush our teeth while fasting?
It is makruh to do so while fasting, but we are allowed to brush our teeth and gargle to prevent bad breath as long as we take care not to swallow water. There is a hadith reported by Imam Tirmizi narrated by a companion of Prophet s.a.w. named Rabi’ah r.a who mentioned that he had seen the Prophet ﷺ on countless occasions brushing his teeth with the siwak (tooth stick) while he was in the state of fasting.
#Myth 9: Do we still have to make up a fast that we have missed even after we have paid fidyah?
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The payment of fidyah does not remove our obligation to make up the days we have missed. You still have to make up the days you did not fast, as long as you are physically able to do so.
#Myth 10: Can we make the intention to fast for the six days of voluntary fasting in Syawal concurrently with the make-up (qadha’) fast?
No, you cannot. Imam As-Syafi’I (in his book Al-Umm) states his opinion in the chapter. “Every act is associated with its own intention” that: it is necessary to differentiate between the Ramadan fast, a fast to fulfill a nazr (vow), a fast as an expiation (kaffarah), a make-up fast (qadha’) and a voluntary fast (sunat). Imam Jalaluddin As-Suyuti (in his book Al-Isybah) is also of the opinion that it is necessary to differentiate between Ramadan, vow, and voluntary fasts.
#Myth 11: Can we use an inhaler (for those who have asthma) while fasting?
Inserting a foreign object or substance into the body can invalidate one’s fast. However, inserting something like medicine, out of necessity, such as difficulties in breathing, is allowed. Therefore, the warranted use of an inhaler will not invalidate one’s fast.
And there you have it! 10 myths about Ramadan and fasting that are myths no longer. May this help us all to improve our deeds this fasting month ?