The Fundamentals Of Islam (Part 4)

The fourth fundamental of Islam is "to fast every day of the month of Ramadan." Fasting is called 'sawm.' Sawm means to protect something against something else. In Islam, sawm means to protect oneself against three things [during the days] of the month of Ramadan, as they were commanded by Allahu ta'ala: eating, drinking and sexual intercourse. The month of Ramadan begins upon seeing the new moon in the sky. It may not begin at the time calculated in calendars. The fifth fundamental of Islam is "for the able person to perform the hajj (pilgrimage) once in his life." For an able person who has money enough to go to and come back from the city of Mecca besides the property sufficient for the subsistence of his family he leaves behind until he comes back, it is fard [1] to perform tawaf [2] around the Ka'ba and to perform waqfa on the plain of 'Arafat, provided that the way will be safe and the body healthy, once in his lifetime.

"The person, upon hearing these answers from Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam), said, 'O Rasul-Allah! You told the truth.' " Hadrat [3] 'Umar (radiy-Allahu 'anh) said that of the Prophet's Companions, the ones who were there were astonished at the behaviour of this person who asked a question and confirmed that the answer was correct. One asks with a view to learn what one does not know, but to say, "You told the truth," indicates that one already knows it.

The highest of the five fundamentals are to say the Kalimat ash-shahada [4] and believe its meaning. The next highest is to perform salat [5]. Next to this is to fast. Then comes the pilgrimage. The last one is to give zakat [6]. It is unanimously certain that kalimat ash-shahada is the highest. About the sequence of the other four, most 'ulama' [7] said the same as we said above. Kalimat ash-shahada became fard first, in the beginning of Islam. Salat five times a day became fard on the Mi'raj Night in the twelfth year of Bi'that, a year and some months before the Hegira. Fasting during Ramadan became fard in the month of Sha'ban, the second year of the Hegira. Giving zakat became fard in the month of Ramadan, in the same year when fasting became fard. And pilgrimage became fard in the ninth year of the Hegira.

[1] fard: an act or thing that is commanded by Allahu ta'ala in the Qur'an al-karim. Fard (or fard) means (any behaviour or thought or belief which is) obligatory. Islam's open commandments are called fard (pl. faraid).
[2] tawaf: the 'ibada of going round the Ka'ba in Mekka during hajj.
[3] Hadrat: title of respect used before the names of great people like and Islamic scholars.
[4] kalimat ash-shahada: the phrase beginning with "Ashhadu..." The first of the five fundamentals of Islam; declaring one's belief in Islam.
[5] salat: i) prayer; (with salam)= salawat; ii) ritual prayer of at least two rak'as; "namaz", in Persian; salat janaza: funeral prayer.
[6] zakat: (fard duty of giving annually) certain amount of certain kinds of property to certain kinds of people, by which the remaining property becomes purified and blessed and the Muslim who gives it protects himself against being (called) a miser. See chapter 1 in Endless Bliss V.
[7] 'ulama': pl. of 'alim; 'ulama' ar-rasihin, those learned in both zahiri and batini sciences.