Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramazan. The month of Ramazan is known around the world to Muslims and non-Muslims alike as the month of fasting.
Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating for a period of time. Similar to Islam, there are several other religions that practice fasting as well on various religious occasions.
Let’s take an in-depth review of fasting in Islam and other religion.
What is Fasting?
Fasting, by definition, is going without food and/or drink for a period of time. In other words, fasting is defined as a partial or total abstention from all foods or a select abstention from prohibited foods. Typically, fasting is done for religious reasons and involves a person refraining from both food and drink.
Fasting in Islam
Islam has taken the lead in reforming the institution of fasting. In Islam, fasting is an act of worship, whereby a Muslim draws closer to God by abandoning food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset.
Fasting also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, abstaining from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing, fighting, and having lustful thoughts.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is mandatory for every adult Muslim, male or female, who is safe, healthy, and not traveling.
Muslims’ Holy Book – the Quran – was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) during this holy month. No other scripture is honored like this, and no other month is made sacred by its connection to Divine Guidance as the month of Ramadan.
Fasting in Christianity
The practice of fasting is mentioned numerous times in the Bible as a reaction to various circumstances. Fasting is a practice in several Christian denominations and is done both collectively during certain seasons of the liturgical calendar, or individually as a believer feels led by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is said to have stayed in the wilderness, without food, for 40 days (Matthew 4:2; Mark 1-13 and Luke 4:2). He also referred to three aspects of Christian behavior in his sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:1-18): almsgiving, prayers, and fasting.
Fasting was also a reaction to intense grief, as when the bones of Saul and his sons were buried (1 Samuel 31:13).
Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. They also abstain from meat on all Fridays in Lent.
Fasting in Judaism
In Judaism, the Jews observe ten days of regret starting with ‘Rosh Hashanah’ – the Jewish New Year – and ending with ‘Yom Kippur’ – which is believed to be the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar – when believers grieve for sins committed in the past year and pray for forgiveness.
Jews fast from sundown on the previous evening to sundown the next night. In Judaism, fasting is more than just refraining from drinking and eating: work on fast days is not permitted; and having sexual relations and bathing, as well as using wearing ointments and leather shoes are prohibited.
Fasting in Hinduism
In Hinduism, it is difficult to find a code of standard practice, although various days have been appointed for fasting.
The fast commences in the evening and ends the next day with the sighting of the moon. During this time, water may be drunk but nothing cooked maybe had as food.
This does not prevent the consumption of fruit, etc. Thus, such a fast is a partial abstention from food and water.
Fasting is commonly practiced on new moon days and during festivals such as Shivaratri, Saraswati, and Puja.
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