CONDITIONS OF SAWM
There are six necessary preconditions before the Fard Sawm can be observed. They are as follows:
1) Correct Month (ie. Month of Ramadaan)
2) Being a Muslim
3) Being an Adult
4) Being Sane
5) Correct Niyyah (Intention) The last condition applies to women only:
6) Being free from Hayd or Nifaas (ie. Menstruation or Post-Partum Bleeding)
CORRECT MONTH (ie. MONTH OF RAMADAAN):
The fard Sawm can only be performed in the month of Ramadaan, the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar.
Ramadaan comes after the month of Sha’baan and before the month of Shawwaal.
The Islamic months are all lunar months which can be either 29 or 30 days each, depending on when the new moon (called Hilaal in Arabic) is sighted.
The beginning of the month is determined by the sighting of the new moon (Hilaal).
Islamic months are not determined by calculation only.
– If the sky is cloudy then the sighting of the new moon by even one good Muslim will be accepted.
(NB: The ruling for determining the end of Ramadaan is slightly different. If the sky is cloudy on the 29th of Ramadaan then only the sighting of the new moon by at least two Muslim males, or one male and two females, will be accepted).
– If the sky is clear then only the sighting of the new moon by a very large number of Muslims will be accepted.
– If the new moon is not sighted at all on the 29th day of the current month, then 30 days of the current month will be completed, and the first day of the next month will follow the day after that.
BEING A MUSLIM
Only the Sawm of a Muslim is acceptable to Allah. The fasting of a non-Muslim is not valid.
BEING AN ADULT
Every Muslim who has passed the age of puberty must fast. Children do not have to fast.
Sawm is not required of the mentally insane.
CORRECT NIYYAH (INTENTION)
The Niyyah (intention) must be made before commencing the fard Sawm. For example:
The Niyyah can be expressed silently or verbally.
However, it is preferable to express the Niyyah verbally.
The Niyyah can be done in any language.
Without the Niyyah, Sawm will not be valid. If a person abstains from food and drink without the intention of Sawm, then his fasting will not be valid. It will be as though he has stayed hungry and thirsty for no reason.
The Niyyah for Sawm should be expressed before commencing the Sawm. However, it is still valid if made before Zawaal (midday).
The following condition applies to women only:
BEING FREE FROM HAYD or NIFAAS (ie. MENSTRUATION OR POS-PARTUM BLEEDING).
Women who are menstruating (Hayd) or experiencing bleeding after childbirth (Nifaas) cannot fast.
The period of Hayd is between 3 and 10 days, and the period of Nifaas is between 1 and 40 days.
Any bleeding beyond this time is considered a minor illness and it will be compulsory to observe Sawm.
All fasts missed due to Hayd or Nifaas will have to be made up at a later date.