The Beginning of the Obligation of Siyaam(Fasting)
Abbas Abu Yahya
Shamsuddeen Muhammad bin Abee Bakr Ibn Qayyim aj-Jawzeeyah (d.751 A.H.) -Rahimullaah- said:
‘The guidance of the Messenger of Allaah –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– concerning fasting is the most complete of guidance, and fasting is the greatest way of achieving the purpose of this guidance, and the guidance of the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- is the easiest upon the souls.
Since weaning the souls away from their devotion and their desires is from the most difficult of matters, the most arduous of them – the obligatory Siyaam was delayed until the middle of Islaam after the Hijrah, when the souls had taken root upon Tawheed and the prayer and when the people had become acquainted with the orders of the Qur’aan, which had been conveyed gradually.
Fasting was made obligatory in the second year of the Hijrah. The Messenger of Allaah –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– fasted for nine Ramadans by the time he passed away.
When Siyaam was initially made obligatory, the person could either choose to fast or feed a needy person daily. Later on, it was transferred from the two options to one sole option of the obligatory fast. Once this was done, feeding a needy person was only permissible for an elderly person and a woman who could not fast. They would then have to feed a needy person for everyday they did not fast.
There was also a concession for the sick and the traveller from not fasting, with the obligation of making up the fast later. Likewise it was the same for the pregnant woman and the suckling woman if they feared for themselves, or if they feared for their offspring. However, along with making up the fast they had to feed a needy person everyday.
In the early days of Islaam if the pregnant woman and the suckling woman did not fast but it was not due to fear of sickness and their health was fine, then here they had to feed a needy person just like a healthy person who did not fast in the early days of Islaam.
Fasting originally had three grades:
1 – Obligatory with the option between fasting or feeding.
2 – The necessity of fasting, however if the fasting person slept before he fed someone than it would be haram for him to eat and drink until the following night, but this was abrogated by:
3 – The third level, was [the obligation to fast] which is what the Sharia’ became settled upon until the Day of Judgment.
From the Prophet’s –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– guidance in Ramadan was to increase in different types of worship, Jibra’eel -alayhi as-Salam- used to meet the Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– he found that the Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– was more generous with goodness than a blowing wind, and that the Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– was the most generous from the people, and he would be the most generous in Ramadan. He would increase in giving Sadaqah and kindness, he would recite the Qur’aan, pray a lot and remember Allaah and perform al-Itikaaf.
He –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– would single out Ramadan with worship, something which he would not single out for any other month.’
[Taken From: ‘Jamia al-Fiqh Ibn Qayyim aj-Jawzeeyah’ Vol.3 p.88-89]