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)
On Dhu al-Hijjah the 18th AH (March 632 CE), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), while returning from his last pilgrimage of Hajj named “the Farewell Hajj”, stopped at Ghadir Khumm (a pond) to make an announcement to the pilgrims who had accompanied him in the pilgrimage.
Ghadir Khumm was a place where people (who were about 10 thousand in number) from different lands like Iraq, Syria, and Egypt would part ways. But before they do, Gabriel revealed to the Prophet (PBUH & HP) one of the last verses of Quran. The verse is now called the verse of al-Tabligh (propagation):
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ
O Messenger! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message (the whole message of Islam), and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot. (The Holy Quran 5:67)
After the verse was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH & HP), he ordered the caravan to stop and ordered those who have passed Ghadir Khumm return and wait until those who had not yet arrived there join them. (1)
After performing the noon prayer, the Prophet (PBUH & HP) made a speech that now is one of the most famous speeches of the Prophet known as Ghadir sermon. Zeid ibn Argham, one of the famous companions of the Messenger (PBUH & HP) said:
“Once, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH & HP) made a speech for us near a pond named Ghadir which is between Mecca and Medina. Firstly, he praised Allah and talked about God and then said: ‘O people! I’m only a human and it is possible that the Apostle of my God (The angel of death) comes to me and I shall accept his invitation (my life ends) and I am leaving you al-Thaqalayn (two great things). The first one is the book of Allah (Quran) in which is guidance and light so follow it and hold fast to it.’ he advised us about the Book and encouraged us to follow it. Then the Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘and (the second one is) my close family. By Allah, I advise you (to follow) my family, By Allah, I advise you (to follow) my family, By Allah, I advise you (to follow) my family’” (2)
The Hadith above is known as “al-Thaqalayn”. It is one of the most famous Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) which indicates that the most important things which the Prophet has left for all Muslims are Quran and the family of the Prophet.
Bara’ ibn Azib, another famous companion of the Messenger, narrates the continuation of the Hadith:
“Then the Prophet raised Ali’s hand (so that all people can see it) and said: ‘don’t you know that I am more deserved to the leadership of the believers than themselves?’. People said: ‘yes, we know’. The Prophet said again: ‘don’t you know that I am more deserved to be the leader of every believer than themselves?’. People said: ‘yes, we know’. Then the Prophet said: ‘anyone whose Mawla is me, then Ali is his Mawla. O God! Be friends with his friends and be enemy of his enemies’. Then, Umar ibn Khattab (the second Caliph) met Ali and told him:
‘Congratulations to you, Congratulations to you, you just got the Mawla of every believer, men or women’”
Arna’oot, one of the most important religious Sunni researchers admits that this historical record is right and trustable. (3)
The word “Mawla” in Arabic language has lots of meanings. Shias and Sunnis disagree on the meaning of the word used in this hadith.
Sunni scholars mostly refuse to believe that the word “Mawla”, used in the Hadith, means “Leader” or “Prior in making decisions for somebody”. They rather suggest it means “friend or helper”. They argue that this word is never used in this meaning (Leader).
Shiites, in reply to Sunni scholars, say that this world have actually been used in this meaning (“the prior”) and some Sunni scholars have admitted that. (4) also, some experts in Arab literature admitted so too like Ghiyath Barghuth, Ajjaj (5), Yahya ibn Ziad al-Farra, Akhfash and so forth. (6)
To prove that the word Mawla in this Hadith means “Leader” and not “friend”, there are many evidences but we mention just one in this text.
The congratulation of Umar ibn Khattab can be a good evidence to prove that “Mawla” here doesn’t mean “friend”. Because, as we said before, Umar says: “Congratulations to you, you just got the Mawla of every believer, men or women” while Imam Ali was the friend of every believer before the Ghadir event, and it doesn’t make sense that he just got the friend of believers in there.
Ghazali, one of the most important reflective Sunni scholars in this regard, says:
“(After the sermon) Umar said: ‘Congratulations O Aba al-Hassan (Imam Ali (AS) ), you just got my friend and every believer’s friend’. So this shows submission and satisfaction (that Imam Ali is the successor of the Prophet) but after this event, due to his desire and love for power, he made himself Caliph and leader” (7)
People had not scattered yet, when Gabriel one more time came to the Prophet and revealed another verse to him:
الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
Today the faithless have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.
The Hadith is that which is frequently narrated by different people and historians that no one can deny its authenticity.
The family of the Prophet i.e. Imam Ali himself, Lady Fatima, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain are among the narrators of this Hadith. Also many of the companions of the Messenger narrated this Hadith. Kattani, one of the Sunni scholars, says that about 30 companions of the Prophet narrated this story including: Umar ibn Khattab, Zeid ibn Argham, Abi Hurairah, Sa’d ibn Waghas and etc. (8)
Due to this fact that this Hadith is so frequently narrated, it is called “Mutavatir”, meaning that this Hadith is undeniable.
Shi'as have always regarded the Day of Ghadir as one of the greatest Eids and this day is known to them as Eid al-Ghadir. Imam Sadiq (AS) says that the Eid al-Ghadir is the greatest Eid of Allah. Its name in skies is “the day of Promise” and in the earth “the day of Covenant”. (9)
Shiites believe that this day was the day that Imam Ali (AS), our first Imam, was officially announced to be the successor of the Prophet (PBUH & HP). So this day is a great holiday for them and fasting in it is so recommended. In this day, Shiites go to the house of Seyyed people -the descendants of Imam Ali and Lady Fatimah- and congratulate them. In return, Seyyed people give them gifts. It is highly recommended to conduct parties in this day and give food to the needy ones.
For more information about Ghadir Khumm, you can read the book al-Ghadir, by Allamah al-Amini (Arabic).
- At-Tafsir, al-Ayyashi, vol.1, Pg.332
- Sahih al-Muslim, vol.4, Pg.1873
- Musnad ibn Hanbal, published by ar-Risalah, vol.30, Pg.430
- Sharh al-Maqasid, al-Taftazani, vol.5, Pg.273
- Al-Shfi, Sharif al-Murtaza, vol.2, Pg.270
- At-Tafsir al-Kabir, Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi, vol.29, Pg.227
- Sir al-A’lamin, al-Ghazali, vol.1, Pg.18
- Nazm al-Mutanathir, al-Kattani, vol.1, Pg.194
- Vasa’il ash-Shiah, Sheik Hurr al-A’meli, vol.5, Pg.224
The issue of art and drawings in Islam is among those topics that have not been directly mentioned and ruled on in the Quran. Therefore, one might wonder if drawings in Islam is allowed (Halal) or not and if yes, then are all types of drawings permitted (Halal)?
There are a few traditions narrated about drawings in Islam that are usually used to answer this question. However, since the answer can be derived from the Quran, this text tries to answer the question based on the Quranic verses.
Now, you might be asking how it is possible to understand the ruling on drawing while there is no direct mention of it in the Quran. The answer is clear; the Quran provides us with a set of fixed frameworks that work as a criterion for us. And whenever we come to a question that we think was not an issue at the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), we can study it, based on the Islamic criteria and find the answer.
Drawings in Islam and all other types of art are considered as tools to make things more beautiful and to create a feeling of admiration in their audience. Allah (SWT) has created this universe most superbly and has ordered all His creatures to admire and praise Him for this beautification. After creating the human, He looked at his creation and admired His own creation: “He formed you and perfected your forms, and provided you with all the good things. That is Allah, your Lord! Blessed is Allah, Lord of all the worlds!” (40:64)
Apart from the whole magnificent scenery of the universe, created by Allah (SWT), there are also some verses of the Quran that indicate the importance of beauty in the eyes of our Creator. And that is why the Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s saying, “Indeed Allah is beautiful and likes beauty” has become so famous . The importance of beauty in the eyes of Allah is visible in different verses of the Quran:
“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer … Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’” (7:31-32)
Creativity is a blessing with which Allah (SWT) has provided human beings (not to mention all the artistic creations of other creatures). And therefore, human beings have always created new things using their creativity, the effect of which is evident in the history and the Quran, e.g., in building houses, castles, making clothes, or designing jewelry, etc.
However, the Quran does not admire all types of art. For example, making sculptures or figures to worship and as idols are considered to be negative. For instance, Prophet Abraham (PBUH), facing his people who were worshiping lifeless and dumb idols, addresses his father and says: “What are these images to which you keep on clinging?” (21: 52)
While in another Surah of the Quran, making statues and sculptures and other pieces of art so far as they are useful for human beings are referred to as positive and admirable. An example is when The Jinn built those pieces of art under the observation of Prophet Solomon (PBUH): “They built for him as many temples as he wished, and figures, basins like cisterns, and caldrons fixed [in the ground] …” (34:13).
Besides, the main ruling on doing artworks can be derived from a Surah in the Quran called Surah Al-Shu’araa’ which means Poets.
In this Surah Allah (SWT) clearly describes the essence of forbidden (Haram) and allowed (Halal) art with a direct mention of poetry which was popular in Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s time:
“As for the poets, [only] the perverse follow them. Have you not regarded that they rove in every valley and that they say what they do not do? Barring those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and remember Allah much often, and vindicate themselves after they have been wronged. And the wrongdoers will soon know at what goal they will end up.” (26: 224-7)
In these verses, Allah (SWT) states that only perverse people would follow and admire the poets. And in describing the poets, it is mentioned that “they rove in every valley,” meaning that they make up things from their imagination. At the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), ‘most poetries were about the beauty of women, adultery, and pervert behaviors.’ However, Allah (SWT) does not forbid poetry completely; rather, He ‘makes the exception of faithful poets’ in the next verse. ‘Those who use their art as a tool to defend justice and to reveal oppression and injustice.’ 
From the above verses of the Quran, we can conclude that any form of art or any other tool is allowed (Halal) provided that they are used in the way of Allah, and if used in the way of Satan, they are considered to be forbidden (Haram). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be familiar with the Islamic jurisprudence to distinguish the right from wrong from an Islamic viewpoint.
Another point that needs to be considered about different forms of art and drawing is that they should not go against the Islamic jurisprudence. Including erotic pictures or scenes in drawings or illustrations is one example of what makes this form of art forbidden. Therefore, as long as the drawing or making sculptures do not have any adverse harm for human soul and improvement, the ruling is as follows: “There is no harm at all in the sculpture, photography, and drawings of living beings whether or not they have a soul. Also, it is permissible to sell, buy, or keep pictures and statues. There is no objection to showing them in an exhibition as well” .
- Al-Kafi. Vol. 6, p. 438
- Tafseer-e Noor, Qara’ati, M. Vol. 6, p. 381
- Painting and sculpture