By Ibrahim Usman
During the daily Tafsir of the Holy Qur’an, on the first day of Ramadan Sheikh Zakzaky explains the messages in verses 183-186 of Surah al-Baqra, which discuss obligation and those exempt from the fast during the holy month.
Citing references and traditions from the Infallibles (AS), Sheikh Zakzaky laid emphasis on the following messages from the verses:
• Ramadan fast is a blessing to the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad
• He who witnesses the month (alive) should fast.
• The traveler and the sick are exempted from fasting; it is an obligatory command, not a choice to fast or not (just as how the traveler is commanded to shorten prayers).
Further elaborating on the command, he explained that there is a penalty on him who travelled or fell sick and fasted, for he disobeyed command of Allah to refrain from the fast. The sick, he said, is left with his conscience to determine whether he can fast or not, based on his health condition that he alone can tell.
Sheikh Zakzaky used the occasion to explain the meaning of fasting, which he said should not be regarded as a traditional event, but rather a divine act that people should endeavour to study its precepts.
He said, fasting is not only refraining from eating and drinking, but additionally refraining from whatever that Allah forbids and doing what He commands throughout the specified period.
Sheikh Zakzaky also cautioned people against arbitrary breaking of fast. He urged people to safeguard their fast by breaking it only when the real time is due. He said, the Qur’an commands believers to break the fast as the darkness of the night sets in, and not by sunset. According to him, sunset (with the reddish ball visible), is never the time to breakfast or pray Maghrib. He said, the length of time between the two periods, depending on setting, might not exceed 15 minutes. According to Sheikh Zakzaky, the notion brought that people should hasten the break of fast (on sunset) is unfounded and fabricated.
Similarly, Sheikh Zakzaky advised Muslims to stop breakfast (Suhr) at least 15 minutes to the time. At the end of the Tafsir, he also read the Holy Prophet’s sermon on Ramadan.