Fasting and the Month of Ramadan

Prepared by: Khalil Abu Asmaa (Christopher J. Moore)

Taken from “Reflect on This“.

Fasting is a tradition known to many of the world’s religions. In its essence it is to temporarily deny oneself some of the pleasures and comforts of this earthly life in order to achieve a higher, loftier goal. Fasting is a spiritual exercise that helps us learn what it means to be human. It teaches the soul discipline and brings us to a greater awareness of our neediness in front of the Creator. It brings to the forefront of our consciousness that primal attribute which so adequately describes the human condition, namely, that of weakness. If we are denied the basic necessities of food and water for just a short period of time, it will ultimately lead to our demise. Part of the purpose of fasting is to remind ourselves of this stark reality.

 Fasting in the month of Ramadan is an essential part of being a Muslim. During this great month, Muslims fast from the break of dawn until sunset. During the observance of the fast it is required to abstain from food and drink, as well as from marital relations. It is a time to be more conscious of those less fortunate in the world, as well as to increase in vigilance concerning the destructive qualities of character, speech, and behavior.

 Since Islam is truly a practical and merciful religion, those who are sick, elderly, or traveling, as well as women who are pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year (unless they are chronically ill, in which case they would not have to do so). Children are only required to begin fasting and the performance of ritual prayers at the age of puberty, although most children start much earlier on their own. 

 God states in the Quran (2:183): 

 O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, in hopes that you may achieve greater awareness (of God).

 Although fasting is primarily a means for self-purification, spiritual discipline, and self-restraint, it is also beneficial to one’s health and it engenders empathy for those less fortunate. By withholding oneself from certain worldly comforts, even if only for a brief period of time, the fasting person is able to focus on his or her purpose in this life by being aware of God more continuously, thereby becoming more cognizant of the meaning of life and the great importance of our final destination after life. 

 Ramadan is a special time for Muslims everywhere; a time for clearer reflection and heightened spirituality. Special prayer services (called taraweeh prayers) are held in mosques and other places of gathering all over the world, each and every night of Ramadan. Although not obligatory, many Muslims flock in large crowds to fill these places of gathering with sincere prayers, passionate supplications, and intimate words of invocation, often late into the night.

 The end of Ramadan is ushered in by a holiday called Eid al-Fitr, or simply Eid. On this day Muslims all over the world celebrate with prayers, gatherings with family and friends, and in many cases, a joyous exchange of gifts and the giving of sweets to children. Although saddened to see the month come to a close, they rejoice in the fruits of the fast and look forward to next year’s blessed harvest.

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2 Comments

  1. Dwayne Hartley said,

    September 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Ramadan has been good to me


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