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September 2008

1. DEAR ABE:  My question is on fasting. In the Quran, verses 19:25-26 Mary is told to eat dates and drink to refresh herself, and then tell anyone who asks that she is keeping a fast.  First, how can she fast if she is eating?  Second, where do we learn how to keep a fast other than these Quran verses and 2:183-187? – S.D., NEW ENGLAND

DEAR S.D.:   Verses 19:25-26 are not about fasting, but rather a different devotion of Mary to God [1].  She was to take a vow of silence.  However, there are a number of verses in the Quran that emphasize and modify fasting [2], qualify the use of moon phases as an accurate timing device for religious practices [3], discuss retreating to the mosque in the last 10 days of Ramadan [4], and describe the Night of Destiny, when the Quran was revealed on the twenty seventh night of Ramadan [5].

Relevant Quran Verse: [1] 19:25-26; [2] 2:183-187; [3] 2:189; [4] 2:187; [5] 97:1-5.


2. DEAR ABE:  I take medication through out the day and with Ramadan fast approaching, my question is: Do I stop taking my medication and fast or not?  I tried hard last year to keep fasting, but could not do it because not taking my medication made me ill and suffer side effects.  However, I feel very sad when I cannot fast.  Please help me figure out what I should do about this problem. –NARMEEN, GREAT BRITIAN

DEAR NARMEEN:  This is one of those times that, out of God’s Mercy, He allows for the individual to decide what is too difficult for them.  You will need to assess your situation daily to determine if you are capable of fasting, and if you can or cannot continue the fast.  God advises us about this situation in the Quran, verse 2:184 that:  “Specific days (are designated for fasting); if one is ill or traveling, an equal number of other days may be substituted. Those who can fast, but with great difficulty, may substitute feeding one poor person for each day of breaking the fast. If one volunteers (more righteous works), it is better. But fasting is the best for you, if you only knew.” [1]

Relevant Quran Verses: [1]  2:183-185, 2:187.


3. DEAR ABE:  I am worried about my family members. I am the only one who prays regularly for the past 12 years. My question is; can God forgive a Muslim who doesn’t pray out of laziness? Maybe this Muslim fasts Ramadan, doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t eat pork, and honors their spouse. Will God forgive them and not punish them in this life or in the hereafter?  - JAMAL, RUSSIA

DEAR JAMAL: The minimum requirements for redemption are for the individual to believe in God, believe in the unseen, and lead a righteous life [1].  Striving to please God and worship Him is part of leading a righteous life.  If the individual is not doing Salat prayers, then they might not be putting God first [2].  However, maybe they are rejecting injections that have crept into some Salat prayers which make them no longer pure [3].  Offering your relatives chances to strive with Quran study, joining for Salat prayers, or giving other righteous reminders is the best thing you can do [4].  Remember, that God knows their reasoning, He is the Best Judge, the Most Kind, the Forgiver, and He is the only one who can guide your loved one [5].

Relevant Quran Verses:  [1] 2:62, 5:69, 2:3-5;  [2] 2:177, 98:7-8, 2:21, 6:102, 2:153; [3] Appendix 15 and Appendix 13 of the English Quran Translation by R. Khalifa; [4] 51:55, 6:69-70, 7:2, 20:2-3;  [5] 28:56, 6:57-60, 11:31, 50:16, 22:65, 85:14, 2:272.

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