Ramadan is the time when Muslims are required to fast. But we might wonder: Is our fasting accepted? Do we really observe the conditions that are essential for fasting? After all, what are these conditions? Can the fast (Sawm) of those who do not perform the prayer (Salat), talk behind other people’s back, drink Alcohol, etc. be accepted? Does it bring all the benefits of fasting on body and soul, in its real sense of the word?
Or even sometimes, some non-Muslims show interest in performing fasting (Sawm). They might want to know what it feels like to fast. To know why Muslims are so enthusiastic about this act, or as they say to put themselves in Muslims' shoes. Indeed they are welcomed to take part in this beautiful ritual. Yet, they should note that Islam has specified some conditions for fasting (Swam) to be accepted.
What Are the Conditions that Make Fasting Meaningful and Pleasurable?
Converting to Islam
Having faith in the pillars of Islam
Being in sound mind and Not being unconscious [i]
Having the intention (Niyyah) of fasting
Avoiding whatever renders fasting void
Also, the one who is traveling, a menstruating woman, and the person who would receive harm by fasting are not required to fast.
As stated earlier, fasting is not the mere act of not eating and drinking. Rather it is a multi-dimensional practice. Aside from being a bodily endeavor, fasting is the spiritual effort of Muslims to elevate their souls and reach Allah’s satisfaction. So, not eating and drinking will not necessarily bring about the many spiritual and psychological effects of fasting. It is a process that influences the manner and the soul of the person, with the passage of time.
It is a whole series of actions that are accepted only when one has embraced Islam previously, believes in the Oneness of Allah and performs other practical principles of Islam such as prayer (Salat) as well.
In other words, if there were no spiritual and divine side to this action, it would not be called fasting (Sawm) anymore. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “It is possible that a person who fasts, does not receive any benefit from his/her fasting other than hunger and thirst” . Why would anyone want to bear hunger and thirst just for the sake of it? There must be something to motivate one going through such a challenging practice.
Intentions are the driving forces for actions, which determine their value and their expected effects. This is true for fasting as well, same as any other obligatory practice in Islam.
Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship and not a mere physical practice. Thus the first prerequisite for this act is to be done with the intention of serving Allah. There may be someone who is only interested in the health effects and physical benefits of fasting. Yet without a divine intention, his/her practice cannot be called fasting in Islam. This does not mean that you need to perform a special ritual before fasting; you should only be aware of your own will to fast and the reason why you fast.
Muslims believe that they fast for Allah [ii]. And what they have for breaking their fast is given by Allah, as a manifestation of His infinite mercy [iii]. With this in mind, Muslims feel inner joy and bliss after a long day of fasting with all its hardships. Since they find a meaning for their efforts. Then, they ask Allah to accept their act of worship [iv], regardless of its physical benefits or any other worldly attitude. At last, they whisper their needs and wishes to Allah, knowing that He is “all-hearing and all-knowing” .
We are born free, and Allah has endowed us with the power of choice. We choose to refrain from eating and drinking consciously. We choose to secure our tongue, eye, and ear from any vices. We choose to surrender to the will of Allah, and we choose to get closer to our divine Creator.
If our power of choice is undermined by any circumstances (e.g., not being mentally sound, being unconscious, not having the intention for fasting), fasting loses its meaning and necessary function. That is to emphasize human being's free will to be better, to go forward and prove his/her value.
[i] i.e., one must be aware of what he/she is doing, or be in control of his/her actions.
[ii] A Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .
[iii] اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنَا: “O Allah: For You have we fasted” 
[iv] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنَا :“and with Your sustenance have we broken our fasting” 
[v] فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا : “so, (please) accept form us” .
- Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.18-17.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 145.
- Dua after breaking the fast (Iftar)
Although one of the most joyful amusements that we usually choose, is to grab some chicken and meat from a supermarket or a Halal butcher and go out to the parks for a barbeque day, many of us have never thought about killing an animal and then barbecuing it.
Has it ever happened to you to be stuck in a village and have no access to butchers? Those of us who are more adventurous may have experienced camping in nature or visiting outlying villages. In such situations usually making a fire and roasting chicken or beef gives us the exciting sense of early humans. But who would be the one to kill that chicken, sheep, or cow and make it Islamically lawful (Halal)?
In this short text, I am going to provide you with a guideline of how to slaughter an animal according to Islamic law. But before starting on the Islamic slaughtering guideline, I know that you may have a bad feeling about killing animals, (as if other meats that we buy from butchers or supermarkets have been flourished in jungles beside mushrooms!!).
Or that many animal rights activists may condemn us for the Islamic slaughtering of animals. Therefore I would shortly argue if the Islamic way of slaughtering animals is a humane act or not?
Eating meat has been naturally and instinctively downloaded in human beings! Our body has been created in a way to digest both meat and vegetables. That is why PKU is known as an inborn error of metabolism that causes an amino acid known as phenylalanine to build up in the blood because the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) enzyme is either missing or not working properly . People who suffer from PKU must live vegan as they lack this metabolism system.
God has created us meat-eaters and has permitted us to eat meat (but those that he has named forbidden (Haram)). Therefore having created human beings, the environment, and the animals, God knows best how nature's life-cycle must run.
Animals obey the rules of this cycle instinctively. However, having a quick search in the Quran and study the verses about food and drink, one can realize that opposing to slaughter or avoiding to eat animals is not something new that belongs to this century. “Why should you not eat that over which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, while He has already elaborated for you whatever He has forbidden you, excepting what you may be compelled to [eat in an emergency]? Indeed many mislead [others] by their fancies, without any knowledge. Indeed your Lord knows best the transgressors.” (6:119)
Now imagine we are in a far-away village, gathering with a group of friends. Of course, there are no butchers, nor a supermarket from which we can buy food. But there is a beautiful white lamb grazing in the field. How does it become lawful (Halal) to roast?
First of all, we have to buy it from the owner.
Don’t forget that the animal must be Halal-meated .
It is recommended to water the animal before the slaughter and do the slaughter job in a way that the animal feels the minimum pain and distress. And it is detestable (Makruh) to slaughter the animal in a place where other animals can see. It is also detestable (Makruh) to slaughter that animal that one has brought up and has an emotional connection to it .
Then we have to make sure that we follow the rules as below:
It must be facing the holy Kaaba (Qibla) when slaughtered.
The person performing the slaughter must mention the name of Allah as he slaughters the animal.
The slaughtering must be done with sharp metal so that the animal does not suffer much, and it happens as quickly as possible.
It must be slaughtered with a specific method in which the four main veins (the throat, windpipe, and blood vessels) are cut, without cutting the spinal cord.
The animal must show some sign of movement after being slaughtered, especially if there was some doubt whether the animal was alive before being slaughtered.
There must be a natural emission of blood from the animal after the act of slaughtering[i] .
As Islamic slaughtering is taken from the Quran and Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) conduct, it is known to be the best way of killing an animal in which it feels the least pain. Also, there are many scientific reasons behind this method of slaughter.
For example, the blood being drained entirely before the head is removed causes the emission of most of the blood which would serve as a suitable culture medium for microorganisms. Or for example, it is said in Islamic law that the spinal cord must not be cut, and the scientific reason found for this rule is that the nerve fibers to the heart could be damaged during the process causing cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood in the blood vessels .
There are some scientific explanations found to justify the fact that Islamic slaughtering is the best way of slaughtering. However, there are still many scientific and spiritual reasons that we are yet aware of. It is NOT impossible to find scientific reasons for God’s orders and prohibitions, but it is always easier to trust Him and obey His rulings for a more profitable life.
[i] It is permitted to stun the animal before slaughtering as it causes less pain and distress for it. However, the animal must be alive after stunning .
Eid al-Ghadir is one of the most important historical events celebrated by many Muslims on the 18th day of the last Islamic month, Dhu al-Hijjah. Ghadir Khum is the name of a pond near Mecca. It was a place for pilgrims, who had attended the ritual of Hajj, to greet and rest a short while before taking different routes to their homes.
After completing his last pilgrimage, which was the first Muslim’s great gathering -with more than 70 thousand people- in the presence of their leader, the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) arrived at Ghadir Khum on the 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah where he received another revelation from God saying:
“O, Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have delivered His message, and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot” (5:67)
Allah in this verse commanded the Prophet (PBUH&HP) to clarify what had been previously revealed regarding Ali (AS) [i] and told him not to worry about the reaction of the people in delivering His message, for He would protect His Messenger from them.
Upon receiving the above verse, the caravan stopped in the valley of Ghadir at Prophet’s command. According to some sources, about 12,000 people from Yemen had come to attend that year’s Hajj, which was known as “The farewell pilgrimage” (Hajj-at-Alvida). Despite the different route that they had to take to their homes, they were asked by prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to choose the way which passed the place of Ghadir, so that they could be present at the time when the incident of Ghadir was taking place.
Then he sent for all people who had gone ahead to return and waited for those who had fallen behind to arrive and gather. At noon that day, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) performed the prayer in congregation with a great population of people behind him. When the prayer was finished, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) ascended the pulpit his followers had set up from the camel saddles and gave his famous sermon in a loud voice. He started his speech by praising Allah, announced the heart-breaking news of his oncoming death and then stated:
“Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you: The Book of God (Quran) and my kindred (itrah), my household (Ahl al Bayt), for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond (of al Kawthar on the Judgement's Day)” .
The Prophet (PBUH&HP), in an attempt to remind Muslims of his own authority over them, asked: “Who has more of a right over the believers than their own selves?” Everyone present proclaimed: “Allah and His Prophet know better.”
The Prophet (PBUH&HP) then said: “Allah is my master and I am the master of all the believers, and I have more right and authority over the believers than they have over their own selves.”
Thereupon, he took Imam Ali (AS)’s hand, raised it up and continued:
“Whomsoever I am his leader (Mawla), Ali (AS) is also his leader (Mawla). O’ Allah! Love those who love him (Ali (AS)) and oppose those who oppose him” .
The Angel of Revelation, Gabriel, once again descended by the order of Allah and revealed the following verse of the Quran:
“Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion” (5:3).
This day has been marked in history as a Grand Eid for many Muslims since then. It is also known as the Day of Leadership (Imamate) and Mastership (Wilayat), which is among the critical beliefs of Islam and the axioms of this holy religion.
A large number of Muslims around the world hold special celebrations, congratulate one another on this day and say:
“All praise belongs to Allah who has made us amongst those who hold firm to the Mastership (Wilayat) of the Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Muminin) -Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS)- and the Imams” .
[i] According to the narration of Yawm al-Dar (The Day of invitation to his Home), the Prophet(PBUH) was commissioned in the third year of his prophethood to declare his call to Islam openly. This is clearly stated in the Holy Quran:
وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الأَقْرَبِينَ.
“Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk” (26:214).
After this, the Prophet(PBUH), invited his close relatives to his uncle Abu Talib’s house, after having their meal, he started to say: O Children of Abd al-Muttalib. I swear to God I know of no one among the Arabs who could have brought anything better than I have brought for you. I have brought for you prosperity here and your future. God has ordered me to invite you to my religion. Who among you will assist me in being my brother, helper, and successor?
No one showed any interest except for Ali (AS) who was the youngest. He rose up, saying: “O Messenger of God. I will be your assistant in this affair.”
The Prophet (PBUH&HP) put his hand around Ali’s neck and said:
إنَّ هَذا أَخِي وَوَصِيِّي وَخَلِيفَتِي فِيكُمْ فَاسْمَعُوا لَهُ وَأَطِيعُوا.
“This brother of mine is my helper, and successor. Listen to him and obey his commands” .