Fast all Ramadan or just few days therein?

Question:

Salam, we read in 2:183 that fasting is decreed on us, then in 2:184 we are told that it is for a number of days (Ayyaman Maadoodat). Does this mean we do not have to fast the whole month of Ramadan but only some days? Otherwise, why would such a long range (29 or 30 days) be referred to as a number of days?

Reply:

1- First, a month is made up of days, so it is not incorrect to speak of a month as a "month" or a number of "days". Consider the following example:

A man was married 30 years to the woman he loved, then after 30 years she dies. One day he is talking to a friend of his and he says:

"I spent the best days of my life with my wife"

Now this man has spent 30 years with his wife before she died, but he speaks of the 30 years as "days". Does this mean that this man did not spend years with his wife but only days?

The rule is that we can speak of any period of time by its name, or by the names of the shorter units it is made of.
In other words, we can speak of a week as a number of days.
We can speak of a month as a number of days, and we can also speak of a year as a number of days.
But we cannot speak of a week as a number of months or a number of years.
Large can be spoken of in smaller units, but opposite is not correct.

2-
Now let me return to your question:

<<<why would such a long range (29 or 30 days) be referred to as a number of "days"?>>>>

Let me ask you: which is longer, one month or eternity?

I am sure you will agree that eternity is much longer than one month.

However, we read in the Quran how God speaks of eternity with the word "day":
.
Enter it (Heaven) in peace; this is the Day of Immortality. 50:34

If God speaks of "Immortality" which is eternal by using the word "Day". Obviously, immortality is longer than one day. Similarly, God spoke of the month of Ramadan by using the word "days". One month is made of days, nothing more and nothing less.

3- When we examine 2:185 we find a clear instruction to fast the whole month of Ramadan and not just few days in it.

For this we must use the literal translation of 2:185 which is:

Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was brought down providing guidance for the people as well as clear proofs of the guidance and the criterion. So those of you who witness the month 'fal’yasom’hu' (shall fast it).

The key word here is "fal’yasom’hu", this word is made up of 3 Arabic words joined and they are:

fal = and so they shall

yasum = fast

hu = it

The word "hu" (which means it) refers to the noun that is immediately before this word. The word it refers to the month of Ramadan.

In other words, God is commanding us to fast the month of Ramadan, and not just few days in that month. If we were to fast only few days during the month, it cannot be said that we fasted the "month" of Ramadan.

Some inaccurate translations of 2:185 used the word "therein" (i.e. they shall fast therein). This translation is not the correct translation of the Arabic text.

This translation would have been correct if the Arabic words were: "fal yasumu fihi" …. the word fihi means : in it, or therein.

But the Arabic words are "fal yasum hu", and "hu" means it and not in it.

Thus the command in 2:185 is: "they shall fast it (the month of Ramadan).

If God is commanding us to fast the month of Ramadan, this obviously means the whole month and not only part of it.