Fasting (Sawm) in Islam is not a very complicated task- just like many other tasks in this holy religion. However, having a general knowledge of its rules and regulations is essential for all Muslims. Fasting is generally defined as the act of voluntarily preventing oneself from eating and drinking during a particular period in the day – from the time of dawn prayer(Salat al-Fajr) until dusk prayer (Salat al-maghrib). According to the Sharia of Islam, there are seven types of fasting that are obligatory for Muslims to perform ; one of the most important of which is fasting during the month of Ramadan. lets see how to fast.
The process of fasting is quite an easy one; first, you will need to make your intention (Niyyah) clear for your fasting: “I will fast today seeking Allah’s contentment and closeness to him.” Note that you should make your intention- whether in your mind or by saying the actual words- before the time of dawn Prayer (Salat al-Fajr). The next step is to avoid doing certain actions during the time of fasting. Basically, there are nine actions that would void your fast:
Eating and drinking (if you forget you are fasting and ate or drank something unintentionally, your fasting won’t be voided)
Having sexual intercourse
Insulting Allah and his holy prophets
Inhaling thick dust
Immersing your head completely in water
Not having performed the obligatory ablutions before sunrise
Doing enema using liquids
To vomit intentionally 
In certain cases, fasting would lose its obligation. If you are a traveler, you won’t need to fast, if you have become temporarily ill and by fasting your illness would worsen, fasting will be forbidden for you, and if you fast you have committed a sin.
Nevertheless, you will have to fast before the coming of the next Ramadan, instead of the one(s) you have missed. However, if you have a chronic sickness – e.g., diabetes- and according to your doctor’s view fasting is harmful to you forever, instead of fasting you will have to pay a certain amount of money in order to be given to underprivileged people in society called atonement (Kaffareh) .
Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, Feast of Fast-Breaking, at the end of Ramadan which falls on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. This religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast.
Many Muslims attend a particular congregational prayer (Salat al-Jama'ah) to thank the Almighty who enabled them to fast and to remember the needy and the destitute. It is also compulsory for Muslims to pay Zakat al-Fitr (Fitrah) during Eid al-Fitr, preferably before offering the Eid prayers.
Zakatul-Fitr is a mandatory religious tax paid by those who can afford it as a kind of charity at the sunset of Eid al Fitr night (i.e., the night preceding Eid day). Whoever is an adult, sane, neither unconscious, nor poor, nor the slave of another, should give, on his own behalf as well as all those who are his dependents, about three kilos of wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice or millet, etc. per person. It is also permissible if he pays the price of one of these items in cash. Fitrah should be given to deserving believers whose income is not sufficient to spend on their families for one year .
It is noteworthy that fasting is not a mere act of depriving oneself of foods or drinks; in fact, the most important aspect of fasting is its spiritual impact upon man. It makes human's soul kind, strengthens his determination, and moderates his instincts. Trying to avoid foods and drinks in Ramadan, which are allowed on normal days, fasting helps people keep away from forbidden deeds (Haram) more easily.
Fasting is a special act of worship that is only between humans and God since no one else knows for sure if this person is actually fasting. Imam Ali (AS) explains the philosophy of this act as below:
“Allah ordered the observance of fasts for fostering (the attribute of) sincerity within the people” .
Fasting is also a practice for human beings to be more observant of their actions and to experience, even for a very short period, what poor people go through in their lives. God has obliged humans to fast to convey the message of equality between the rich and the poor; the rich experience the pangs of hunger and thus fulfill their obligations to the destitute.
If the wealthy nations of the world were to fast for just a few days in the year and experience hunger, pain and trouble poor people suffer from, they would probably exhibit mercy upon them, and there would not still exist any hungry people in the world .
The miraculous effect of abstinence (from food) in curing various diseases has been ascertained in modern as well as ancient medicine. Lots of articles have been written on the medical and therapeutic effects of fasting.
In a well-known tradition, the Noble Prophet (PBUH&HP) says:
“Fast, in order that you become healthy.”
It is a fact that the cause of a great number of diseases is extravagance in the consumption of various types of food.
The prophet (PBUH&HP) also says:
“The stomach is the house of all maladies and abstinence (from food) is the best of all cures” .
When we eat or drink, we inevitably enter many toxic substances into our body; consequently, organs should always be working to get rid of these harmful materials. The detoxification process of the body will be considerably accelerated during the time of fasting.
Since our body does not receive any substance externally, the materials that had been stored in the body will be used to produce sufficient energy; thus, the infections and microbes that were accumulated in our body will be released along with those materials and our blood will be purified noticeably. It has been claimed that fasting will balance the hormones in our body and will result in better functioning of our organs  & .
To conclude, the ultimate goal of fasting in Islam is to redirect our attention toward our inner selves. In addition, it serves as a reminder for us of our superiority to other creatures in respect to our power of will, our capacity to choose to fight against evilness and to refuse to be driven by our desires. In consequence, we would finally be prepared to reach the summit of humanity and become the perfect human who is worthy of God’s attention and reward.
May Allah bless you and accept your fasting as well as all your other good deeds.
As a kind of solution for decreasing the financial problems of the Islamic society, especially those of underprivileged people, Islam has offered some ways that one of the most effective of which is Khums. In the literal sense, Khums in Islam means one-fifth of something and in the sharia of Islam is one of the most important financial mandatory rules and is generally defined as paying one-fifth of the remainder of your yearly income.
Generally speaking, Khums becomes obligatory in seven cases, but the one which is inscribed to income is considered as the most salient kind. In this case, one has to pay one-fifth of what has remained from his income after subtracting his own expenses on the exact date that he has paid Khums in the previous year; in other words, one should specify a date on which he would pay his Khums every year.
There are certain kinds of income that would make the payment of Khums obligatory: agricultural income, commercial and trading income, income earned through renting something (e.g., house, car, etc.), the income that one earns through working for someone else.
On the other hand, in some cases, paying Khums is not necessary anymore, including the inherited money, gifts, rewards, marriage portion (Mahrieh)[i], mortmain property (Waqf), borrowed money, money paid by the insurance company, money paid as a scholarship to university students, money the Khums of which has been paid once, etc[ii] .
Basically, Khums is divided into two parts, one is given to Imam – who is your Religious expert (Marja Taqlid) or other qualified religious experts - and the other part is for descendants of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) (Sadaat) who are poor, orphan or faced with difficulty on their journey.
Generally speaking, paying Khums brings about two kinds of effects, in two scales: first of all spiritual effects upon each and second, financial advantages upon the whole society.
As one of the forms of serving God, Khums should be paid with the intention of Allah’s satisfaction; accordingly firm belief and true faith guarantees performing this task. What’s more, engaging in this activity will arise a sense of generosity and philanthropy in the person, wipes away greediness and avarice from his soul and provides the necessary condition for benefiting from Allah’s spiritual and material blessings.
Furthermore, by paying a certain amount of money to the religious experts (Marja Taqlid), one feels involved in the practice of spreading the religion and Islamic ideology in the society and will always remain in the right side, helping the people who follow God’s commands against those who have transgressed from His way.
Another result of performing the holy task of Khums is that it will make the person more financially organized and dutiful, feeling responsible for underprivileged Muslims in the society and striving in the way of Allah and His Prophet (PBUH&HP).
As we already know, one of the main reasons for sending prophets was to provide the necessary grounds for establishing social justice through people themselves. So, they brought many rules that would pave their way to achieve this aim, one of the most important of which is paying Khums.
In fact, Khums acts as an equalizer of wealth within the Islamic community; Each individual with the intention of God’s satisfaction and true faith, donate a part of the remainder of his earnings to one of the most reliable, faithful and God-fearing people in the society - religious expert - in order for him to spend it for the purpose of improving the society.
Paying Khums provides the sufficient resources for the people who are engaged in preaching Islam in the world and in some way reinforce the Islamic government. This money will help religious experts to spend their time and energy in inviting people to religion, answering their doubts and clarifying Islamic rules and regulations for them.
Moreover, this holy task will simultaneously produce two effects in Islamic society: involving religious experts in people’s financial difficulties will result in a closer and stronger relationship between them on one hand, and being responsible to give certain amount of money away, on the other hand, will make people more attentive to one another’s problems, create a bond between different classes within the society and reduce the gap between them through fairly distributing the wealth.
[i]. A mandatory payment, in the form of money or possessions paid by the groom, or by the groom's father, to the bride at the time of marriage that legally becomes her property .
[ii]. It is noteworthy that the cases above are varied according to different religious experts.
- Ayatollah Khamenei, Resale Amuzeshi (didactic treatise), Khums rules and regulations
One of the ten practical principles of Islam, The Holy Struggle, Jihad, is literally defined as “hardship, endeavor, exaggeration in work, reaching the height of something and capability”, while in the Sharia of Islam Jihad is sacrificing one’s life and property primarily for the sake of Allah, elevating and sustaining Islamic beliefs and standpoints. In this sense, Jihad is the act of Defending the Islamic territory against the assaults and intrusions of outsiders and invaders.
The essence of Jihad lies in Defense, thus any violence which is shown with the intention of invading a country or a nation’s lives, property, etc. and for manipulating their economic potentials or human resources, not only is not called Jihad but also considered as the overt manifestation of injustice and cruelty which is strongly rejected in Islam.
If an individual or a nation participates in a struggle in order to defend their life, money, property, or independence, they have in fact committed a holy task since they have stood up against the injustice of the intruder who has questioned their legitimate human rights. Therefore, the act of Jihad is permitted in the following cases:
When the life and possessions of the people of a country are threatened by the invasion of the intruders and opportunists, they have the right to defend themselves against these threats and retain what has been taken away from them.
It is the whole nation’s responsibility to defend the personal and domestic privacy of its members, preventing the enemies to violate and invade the family units especially women and children.
To defend national independence and integrity is a totally legitimate action for a nation. Accordingly, if a government or nation tends to undermine or insult the independence of another nation and try to manipulate them, the latter is bound to defend itself in order to restore its legitimate rights.
The struggle to retain your rights is not limited to an individual or a nation; rather there are some values that are far beyond these and include the whole of humanity. In other words, Jihad is the act of defending the “right” that spans not only personal and public ones but also that of humanity.
Freedom is one of these human values that is precious for every single person on earth regardless of their nationality or religion, so when it is threatened or undermined in any place around the world every conscious soul finds it necessary and feels responsible to defend and retain it; if a group of people is being oppressed or treated unfairly, one cannot and should not remain indifferent to this injustice and is bound to fight for their freedom. There existed and still exist many freedom-loving people who are not just concerned about their own country or nation and instead strive for the freedom of all human beings around the globe.
To further illustrate this issue, let’s consider this example: nowadays, medical researchers are in a constant struggle to find a final and determinate cure for cancer, but they are still unsuccessful. Imagine the cure was found by a medical company, but its managers amassed it and prevented people from using it in order to increase their own interest, or even destroyed the formula so that no one would reach it, they have violated the rights of the whole humanity and should be fought with.
The answer is yes monotheism, and the concepts like this are of human values and need to be defended, but it does not mean that we are allowed to impose these beliefs on an individual or a nation since faith and belief is something that each person should reach and accept through his own intellectual and logical investigation and not through force; this is clearly reflected in this verse of Holy Quran: “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256).
Nevertheless, if this axiom -or any other fundamental belief in Islam- is being threatened or insulted in order to arise enmity and to undermine Islam, it is every Muslim’s duty to stand up for this cause.
Up to this point, we understood that the keyword in the definition of Jihad is Defense in the four cases above. The religion of Islam is fundamentally the religion of peace and strongly recommends a peaceful relationship with others, as these verses explicitly reveal: “And if they incline toward peace, then you [too] incline toward it, and put your trust in Allah. Indeed He is the All-hearing, the All-knowing” (8:61), or “So if they [polytheists] keep out of your way and do not fight you, and offer you peace, then Allah does not allow you any course[of action ]against them”(4: 90).
However Islam makes a clear distinction between the idea of peace and surrender; while it encourages the former, it emphatically rejects the latter. In other words, peace is reached when both parties are on friendly terms, respecting each other’s beliefs and rights mutually, and live beside one another without intruding or violating each other’s rights.
But if one of the parties were to keep on invading the other one – either covertly or overtly -, and the one whose rights have been threatened did not react, this would not be called peace anymore, rather surrendering and yielding to their injustice which is totally unacceptable in Islam.
Finally, it should be noted that Islam is a religion that ranges all aspects of human’s life and has established rules for each; accordingly, it should include a rule which would protect individuals as well as the society against possible threats and guarantee society’s tranquility and harmony through retaining the social justice. Jihad is that principle that would practically provide these opportunities for Muslims.