Why Do Muslims Fast During the Month of Ramadan?

We explain the islamic tradition of fasting during the muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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It is also by means of fasting that those who never have to hunger or thirst are (to some extent) made personally aware of the plight of the underprivileged, which thus evokes a degree of social consciousness. The aim of attaining

taqwa

is, in fact, that degree of ethical rectitude and moral elevation that flows from a heightened level of God-consciousness. It emanates from the spiritual rejuvenation inspired by the selfless act of fasting for Allah.



Q. Who should fast, and who does not have to?

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory for every mature (over the age of puberty), sane, and healthy Muslim.

Those not obliged to fast are the insane, mentally retarded, or chronically ill, and those under the age of puberty.

People undertaking a strenuous journey; women who are menstruating, experiencing post-natal discharges, or pregnant; people with a temporary illness; and those involved in extremely strenuous occupations (for example, a soldier in battle) may suspend their fasting. These people, however, have to make restitution (

qada'

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) by fasting for the number of days equal to those missed, any time before the next Ramadan.



Q. What invalidates the fast, and what does not?

The following renders the fast void: intentional consumption of food or drink, sexual relations, deliberate vomiting, ejaculation of semen, or the beginning of menstruation or post-natal bleeding.

The following do not break the fast: eating or drinking out of forgetfulness (provided that one stops as soon as one becomes aware of the error); brushing the teeth; rinsing the mouth and nostrils with water; applying eye powder, face cream, hair oil, or perfume; swallowing unavoidable things such as saliva, dust, or smoke from the air; bathing; unintentional vomiting; having an injection or intravenous line that is solely medicinal, not nutritional; and embracing one's spouse.



Q. What are Fidyah and It'am?

If a person is too old, too frail, or physically unable to fast the month of Ramadan, the person (according to the Qur'an, Chapter 2, Verse 184) is to "redeem" or "pay ransom" (

fidyah

) for each day of fasting missed by either feeding (

it'am
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