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Why Muslims Fast during Ramadan

The beauty of Islam is that non-Muslims find it just as interesting and captivating as Muslims, and one of their most frequently asked questions concerning Ramadan is why Muslims fast during this blessed month. This post will explore the wisdom behind fasting and the purpose of Ramadan in light of Islamic principles. Some of the reasons why Muslims observe Ramadan fasting are discussed below: 

The Act of Fasting Defines a Muslim

Islam is based on five core principles; believing in these principles is key to being identified as a follower of the Islamic faith. These five principles are also referred to as the Five Pillars of Islam: namely Shahadah, belief in one God (Allah) (SWT), Salat (prayer), Sawm (to fast) and Hajj. These are acts of worship that Allah (SWT) has made compulsory. Fasting is one of the five pillars, which means that Ramadan fasting is mandatory for all able Muslims. 

To Attain Piety

Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:  

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous". [Al-Baqarah 2:183]  

As humans, we are susceptible to sins and transgression of the boundaries established by Islam and fasting, teaching us to be pious and restrain ourselves from worldly pleasures. The idea is to ensure believers are not led astray by materialistic desires and can control urges that can cloud judgment. This requires a fixed training period where Muslims have enough time to know and learn how to put an end to vices, learn virtues and obtain Allah’s (SWT) blessing.  

To Reap the Benefits of the Night of Power

Laylat-al-Qadr is concealed within the last 10 days of Ramadan and is also known as the Night of Power, as special blessings are associated with this night. It is the most sacred of nights within Islam. It is said that any deed on this night carries more reward than the deeds of 1000 months combined. 

“Indeed, it is We Who sent this Quran down on the Night of Qadr.” [Al-Quran 97:1]  

Laylat-al-Qadr is the night of seeking forgiveness and increasing reward. It is a special time to engage in supplication, prayers, charity, and recitation of the Quran. It is an established Sunnah to perform Itikaf in the last ten days to secure the blessing of Laylat-al-Qadr. 

To Seek Forgiveness for Past Sins

In this glorious month, the believers engage in seeking forgiveness for their past sins. Ramadan is a month when many prayers are listened to and answered. 

According to a hadith of the Prophet (SAW):  

“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and in hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari (38) and Muslim (759)] 

To Appreciate the Pain of Hunger

Islam preaches equality, and Allah (SWT) made fasting during Ramadan to make the rich and the poor equal in many ways. One of these is staying away from food and drink. During the fasting day, all believers equally face hunger and thirst, which makes the fortunate ones appreciate their blessings and think of those less fortunate than them.  

Ramadan is a month of immense importance. This is a time when both believers and non-believers seek answers to many questions. Please continue to read the following answers to some frequently asked questions on how to fast for Ramadan.  

What is a Ramadan Fast?

A Ramadan fast is a fasting day that falls within the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar known as Ramadan. It is characterised by abstinence from food and drink and sinful activities from dawn till sunset.  

How long is a Ramadan Fast?

The fasting month lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on moonsighting. The length of one fasting day depends on which part of the world someone is living in. In the UK, the fasting day in Ramadan 2024 will be approximately 12 – 13 hours long to start with. The days will continue to become longer with the increase in the daylight hours as the holy month progresses.  

Who is Exempt from Fasting?

There are certain people who are exempt from fasting. This includes those going through sickness, travel, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menses or post-natal bleeding, extreme old age and being overtaken by intense hunger and thirst in cases of war, famine, etc. Some kinds of the exempt people need to make the missed fasts later in the year, while those unable to fast at all are required to pay fidya.  

Charity in Ramadan – a Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW)

According to authentic narrations, the Prophet (SAW) used to increase manifold in charitable deeds during Ramadan. Following this Sunnah, the believers strive hard to do more charity in the blessed month. 

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