Fasting: Sawm

 

Fasting is required of all mature, able-bodied Muslims from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar).

Fasting requires individuals to abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations from dawn until sunset. In addition, Muslims are exhorted to be especially careful to avoid any bad behavior normally prohibited to them, such as backbiting, arguing or lying.

Fasting is an exercise in self-restraint. Ideally, if one can practice the discipline of fasting, one will have the self-restraint to resist temptations in daily life.

Fasting serves as a reminder of the hunger and suffering endured day after day by the poor and oppressed. As such, fasting encourages sympathy and sensitivity among Muslims.

In this month, Muslims are encouraged to spend the evening offering prayers and reciting the Qur'an.

The end of Ramadan is marked by a celebration of one of the two Muslim holidays, called Eid al-Fitr. This is a festive day marked by a special morning prayer, and then followed by visiting and exchanging gifts with friends and family.