Fasting in Ramadan is a main pillar of Islam that helps Muslim grow closer to the One God, Allah. According to the Qur’an “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may learn self-restraint”. Fasting, which is recognized for its health, spiritual and psychological benefits, is considered by Muslims as a means to improve their moral characters and provides an opportunity for a spiritual renewal.
The real purpose of fasting is not to make us hungry and thirsty, or to deprive us some of our comfort and conveniences but to be conscious of Allah. It is to do one's best to live by His commands and to avoid His prohibitions, fear of Allah, worship of Allah, sincerity in faith, and avoid the disobedience to Allah. Fasting is an invisible act. Only Allah and the person who is fasting know whether he or she is fasting or not. Fasting teaches how to control and discipline our desires. During fasting we learn how to say "no" to things that are otherwise permissible and good, but are forbidden during fasting. When one learns how to say "no" to that which is generally permissible, then one can easily control oneself to avoid that which is forbidden. Through fasting we taste—to some extent—the pain and suffering of those who are poor and destitute. Fasting teaches empathy and sympathy, and it takes away some of our selfishness and self-centeredness.
Fasting in Ramadan is compulsory on all physically and mentally healthy and mature Muslims. Those exempted from fasting are the sick, old, pregnant and menstruating women and travellers. Pregnant and menstruating women and travellers make up the missed days by fasting at a later time.
The day of fasting begins with an early morning meal before dawn and ends at sunset. The evening activities include the traditional breaking of the fast usually with dates and water, the sunset prayer followed by dinner (IFTAR). Muslims would then go to the mosque for congregational prayers in which at least one-thirtieth of the Qur’an is recited. The congregation would have listened to the recitation of the complete Qur’an by the end of the month.
Ramadan will depart on September 8 or 9, 2010 depending on the citing of the moon. The celebration marking the end of Ramadan is called Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the major festivals in Islam and will be celebrated September 9 or 10, 2010 depending on the moon sighting.
Islamic Foundation of Toronto