“Not even water!”
Yup! In Ramadan, Muslims all around the world fast from dawn till dusk, meaning that they abstain from eating and drinking and yes, we cannot even drink water!
Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are physically and mentally capable of doing so.
So why do we fast and what does that mean for Muslims? It’s important to know the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of fasting because it’s what helps Muslims have sincere intentions and understand the sacredness of this act of worship.
1. Why do we fast?
Fasting during Ramadan is an act of worship that helps Muslims to develop self-discipline, control their desires, and become more aware of their relationship with Allah ﷻ.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
The Quran states, “O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing.”Qur’an 2:183
It also reminds Muslims of the struggles of people who live in poverty and helps us understand the importance of giving charity.
Fasting is an act of worship that helps Muslims to become more pious and closer to Allah ﷻ and increase their Taqwa (God-Consciousness).
2. How long do we fast for?
The timings of fasting
Muslims fast from dawn until dusk during Ramadan. During this time, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and intimate relations with their spouse. The fasting time is different for everyone around the world, depending on sunrise and sunset. Did you know people in Greenland have to fast for 20 hours while people in Sydney have to fast for just under 13 hours?
3. The intention of fasting
The intention to fast is an important part of the fasting process. Muslims must make an intention to fast before the start of each day during Ramadan. The intention can be made in one’s heart and does not have to be verbalised.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”Bukhari
4. Does everyone have to fast?
While fasting is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are physically and mentally capable of doing so, there are some exemptions. These include:
- children who have not reached puberty
- elderly people who are not physically capable of fasting
- pregnant and breastfeeding women who fear for their health or the health of their child
- women who are menstruating or experiencing postnatal bleeding
- people who are travelling
- People who fear for their health or safety.
5. Making up for missed fasts
Those who are exempt from fasting during Ramadan must make up for missed fasts at a later time.
وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍۢ فَعِدَّةٌۭ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ
The Quran states, “And whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe the fast must be made up] from other days”Qur’an 2:185
This means that those who are exempt from fasting during Ramadan must make up for missed fasts when they are able to do so.
6. IT’S TIME TO EAT!
Breaking the fast
Muslims break their fast with a date or some water, as the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to do. The iftar (breaking of the fast) can be followed by a meal, but it is important to eat in moderation and avoid overeating. Many cultures have their own delicious traditional foods and drinks that they make specifically for Iftar time like samosas, lentil soup and kofteh.
Written by Aishah Navaid