Fasting (Siyaam)

Fasting Siyaam

Essentials of Rama-dan,

The Fasting Month

Fasting (Siyaam)

Fasting, or siyaam, has two meanings. Generally, siyaam or
sawm, is derived from the root sama, to restrain from normal
things, such as eating, drinking, and talking. If an individual
refrains from these things, he is considered saaim, the observer
of fast. Al-Qur’an uses the word generally when it revealed the
conversation between the angel and Mary, the mother of Jesus,
as the angel instructed her:

“…And if you do see any man, say, ‘I have
vowed to remain silent for Allah.’ ”

(Al Qur’an 19:26)

The phrase “to remain silent” is the interpretation of the Arabic
word, “rawm.” The reason for this interpretation is that “sawm”
cannot mean fast, i.e. restraint from food, because Mary had
just been told to eat from the palm tree. This general meaning
is common in the Arabic language.

In the Shari’ah, Islamic law, the word “sawm” means and im-
plies a specific act, that, is, “to worship Allah, abstaining, with
intention to please Him from fast breakers, such as physical
nourishment, food, drink, and sexual intercourse or a lustful
discharge of semen from the period between the break of dawn
until sundown.

As this definition implies, the Islamic fasting is total abstinence
from any food particles passing through the mouth or nose, as
well as drinks of any kind – water, milk, juices, etc. – along
with abstinence from sexual association during the day that
commences from the break of dawn till sunset.

Although the definition indicates restraining the stomach and
private parts, the tongue, eyes, ears and other limbs are equally
obligated to be restrained if the faster wants to gain the total

rewards of fasting. This is why the Messenger of Allah (saas)
has been reported as saying in a hadith by Abu Hurairah:

“He who does not desist from obscene language and act-
ing obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has
no need that he did not eat or drink.” (Bukhari Muslim)

In another hadith by Abu Hurairah (raa), the Prophet (saas)

“Fasting is not only to restrain from food and drink,
fasting is to refrain from obscene (acts). If someone ver-
bally abuses you or acts ignorantly towards you, say (to
them) ‘I am fasting; I am fasting.'” (Ibn Khuzaimah)

Indeed, these two reports imply fasting will not be complete
until one observes three elements:

1. Restraining the stomach and the private parts from the
breakers of the fast – food and drink,

2. restraining the jawarih, the other body parts, which may
render the fast worthless despite the main factors of hunger and
thirst; so the tongue, for instance, must avoid backbiting, slan-
der, and lies; the eyes should avoid looking into things consid-
ered by the Lawgiver as unlawful; the ears must stop from lis-
tening to conversations, words, songs, and lyrics that spoil the
spirit of fasting; and,

3. restraining of the heart and mind from indulging themselves
in other things besides dhikir Allah (remembrance of Allah.

Essentials of Ramadan The Month of Fasting