Sawm, or ritual fasting is the third pillar of Islam. Fasting is prescribed once a year during Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar. The fast of Ramadan lasts for the whole month beginning from sunrise and ending at sunset God Almighty says: “You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may (learn) self - restraint” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:183).
Fasting means to refrain and abstain from dawn till sunset, from food and drink and certain other things. Fasting in the month of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, and it ends with the sighting of the moon of the next month of Shawwal. With the new moon of Ramadan fasting becomes obligatory for all those who are required to fast. With the new moon of Shawwal the fast comes to an end. The following day is the day of celebration of Id festival.
If one is sick or on a journey, one is allowed to postpone fast. But the missed fast has to be made up by fasting the same number of days afterwards.
The fast teaches discipline to the soul. The believer recalls the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed.
According to the Qur’an, the main purpose of fasting is to attain taqwa or God-consciousness. Fasting, according to the Prophet, is a shield, which guards us from evil ways.
In Ramadan extra salat is performed. There are extra sunnah salat on Ramazan nights called salat at- Tarawih. In the last ten days of Ramadan, some retreat to the mosque to perform Itikaaf, to pray and to read the Qur’an as much as they can.
Ramadan is a Blessed Month. The Qur’an was revealed in this month. Ramadan is also called the Month of Qur’an.
Benefits Of Fasting
1. All Muslims, rich and poor, fulfill the same demands of the fast and then share their food together at night. This promotes the spirit of togetherness
2. The rich gain a better understanding of what it must be like for the poor who cannot always eat when they want to. This should make them more generous towards them
3. Muslims learn to appreciate all the good things they have each day, and to thank Allah for them, instead of just taking them for granted.
4. Muslims learn self-control
5. Muslims learn how to endure hardship. Ramadan thus brings us closer to the path of goodness and God- consciousness (taqwa). Ramadan thus brings us closer to God
Fasting At Times Other Than Ramadan
Fasting in Islam is undertaken more often than simply during Ramadan. The notion of kaffara, atonement for sin or for duties which have been omitted, is stipulated in the Qur’an on a number of occasions: in chapter 2/196, fasting is to replace the pilgrimage for those unable to go to Mecca under certain conditions; in Qur’an 5/89, fasting is prescribed for breaking an oath; in Qur’an 5/95, fasting is the penalty for killing an animal while on the hajj. In each of these situations, fasting is seen as making amends for one’s moral or ritual errors.
Additional fasting is also practised on the ninth and tenth of Muharram; during the six days from the second to the seventh of shawwal and on the ninth of Dhu al Hijja for those who are not on pilgrimage.
Additional fasting is also observed on the twenty seventh of Rajab, the fifteenth of Sha‘aban and three days of every month of the lunar calendar.
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