I read the story of the life of the Prophet PBUH and there were several wars and battles where they happened in the month of Ramadhan. So, did the Prophet PBUH and his Companions break their fast before battle or went to war whilst fasting?
Waalaikumussalam wrt, wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We will start with the definition of fast. Lexically, fasting means abstaining oneself from doing something such as eating, drinking and talking. This is based on the narration about Mary AS stated by Allah SWT in the Quran:
إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ صَوْمًا
“Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.:
Surah Maryam (26)
Whereas, according to syara’, fasting means abstaining oneself from anything that invalidates it starting from when the sun rises until the sun sets preceded by the intention to fast. (See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 1/59)
Answering the above question, we cite the following hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RA, where he said:
سَافَرْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِلَى مَكَّةَ وَنَحْنُ صِيَامٌ قَالَ فَنَزَلْنَا مَنْزِلاً فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِنَّكُمْ قَدْ دَنَوْتُمْ مِنْ عَدُوِّكُمْ وَالْفِطْرُ أَقْوَى لَكُمْ. فَكَانَتْ رُخْصَةً فَمِنَّا مَنْ صَامَ وَمِنَّا مَنْ أَفْطَرَ ثُمَّ نَزَلْنَا مَنْزِلاً آخَرَ فَقَالَ : إِنَّكُمْ مُصَبِّحُو عَدُوِّكُمْ وَالْفِطْرُ أَقْوَى لَكُمْ فَأَفْطِرُوا. وَكَانَتْ عَزْمَةً فَأَفْطَرْنَا
“We travelled with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) towards Mecca and we had been observing fast. We halted at a place. There the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: You are nearing your enemy and breaking of fast would give you greater strength, and that was a concession (given to us). But some of us continued to observe the fast and some of us broke it. We then got down at another place and he (the Holy Prophet) said: You are going to encounter the enemy in the morning and breaking of the fast would give you strength, so break the fast. As it was a point of stress, so we broke the fast.”
Sahih Muslim (1895) and Sunan Abu Daud (2058)
Imam al-Munawi said: It can be concluded that the excuse to break the fast is not due to travel but because the proximity of the enemy and they would need all their energy and optimum strength to fight in the path of Allah SWT. Although they were residing in a state (not travelling), it is still permissible for them to break their fast to maintain their stamina and strength to face their enemies. (See Faidh al-Qadir, 2/555-556)
In another narration, Saidian ‘Umar al-Khattab also narrated the same matter. He said:
غَزَوْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي رَمَضَانَ غَزْوَتَيْنِ يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ وَالْفَتْحِ فَأَفْطَرْنَا فِيهِمَا
"We fought in two battles along with the Messenger of Allah during Ramadan; the Day of Badr, and the Conquest (of Makkah), so we broke our fast during them."
Sunan al-Tirmizi (714) and al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (8520)
It is narrated that some of the companions of the Prophet PBUH said:
رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَمَرَ النَّاسَ فِي سَفَرِهِ عَامَ الْفَتْحِ بِالْفِطْرِ ، وَقَالَ : تَقَوَّوْا لِعَدُوِّكُم
“I saw the Prophet (ﷺ) commanding the people while he was travelling on the occasion of the conquest of Mecca not to observe fast. He said: Be strong for your enemy.”
Sunan Abu Daud (2365)
Al-Hafiz in al-Talkhis al-Habir (2/449) said this hadith is evaluated as sahih by al-Hakim and Ibn Abd al-Bar. This hadith also mentioned the commandment of breaking one’s fast not because of travel but to increase one’s strength when going into battle.
Thus, based on the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH and his commands, breaking fast when going to war is of greater priority because the maslahat of fasting is for personal gains while having the physical strength and energy is for the victory of Islam. This what had been practised by the Prophet PBUH and his Companions who follow his footsteps.
Hopefully, we are able to realize the commandment of Allah SWT:
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا
“And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from.”
Surah al-Hasyr (7)