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The dictionary definition of fasting is, 'to abstain from eating and sometimes drinking, especially as a religious observance'. This can relate to many religions, including Islam, where followers fast during Ramadan.

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Introduction

Ramadan The dictionary definition of fasting is, 'to abstain from eating and sometimes drinking, especially as a religious observance'. This can relate to many religions, including Islam, where followers fast during Ramadan. A religious fast extends for a set period of time, and is often used as a means of concentrating on beliefs. The Qur'an 2:183 states 'Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may ward off (evil)'. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting takes place on every day of the month for twenty-nine or thirty days. This varies slightly because the Muslim calendar is based on the moon, and the first sighting of the new moon marks the beginning of each month, whilst the sighting of the next new moon marks the end of Ramadan. The Western year, based on the sun, is eleven days longer than the Muslim lunar year; therefore Ramadan occurs eleven days earlier each year, which means that fasting may take place in various seasons and weather throughout a lifetime. During Ramadan Muhammad had his first revelation of the Qur'an, so it is a special month for Muslims. They commemorate this by fasting, which is also called Sawm. The reasons why Muslims fast during Ramadan are that it is the fourth pillar of Islam, and is an obligatory duty and act of worship commanded by Allah in the Qur'an, also that Muhammad set them the example of fasting. Sunan Abu Dawud; Selection of Hadith, no. 55 states 'Umar reported that the people saw the new moon (of Ramadan.) So I informed the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that I had seen the new moon. Upon this the Holy Prophet observed fasting and ordered the people to observe the fasts of Ramadan'. At the beginning of Ramadan there is great excitement, as people wait for the sighting of the new moon. ...read more.

Middle

Fasting during Ramadan is also important because it is the Fourth Pillar of Islam, and a duty and act of worship, which was commanded for them in the Qur'an by Allah. The Five Pillars are the basis of Muslim faith, and without them Islam would not really exist. The Pillars are Shahadah, the declaration of faith, Salah, prayer 5 times a day, Zakah, the giving of money to the poor, Sawm, fasting during Ramadan, and Hajj, making the pilgrimage to Mecca. 'Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you' The Qur'an. Surah 2:183. The prophet Muhammad set Muslims the example of fasting during Ramadan on being told that the new moon had been seen. As Muhammad was Allah's messenger on Earth, Muslims try to follow his example, the Sunnah. 'Upon this the holy prophet observed fasting and ordered the people to observe the fasts of Ramadan' Selection of Hadith no. 55. Another importance of Ramadan is that it teaches self-control. Muslims must have enough self-discipline, not only to resist the temptation to eat all day for the entire month, but they must also not over indulge after sunset. If a Muslim completes the fast, they believe that they will be rewarded by going to Paradise. Ramadan is very important to Muslims, as it shows total obedience to Allah, and to show this is one of the most essential aspects of Islam. For Muslims, helping the poor and needy is the duty of everybody in the society. For Zakah, one of the Five Pillars, it is compulsory to give 2.5% of their savings to Islam in order to support these people. Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to understand how people who are starving must feel. They may realise that they will only be hungry until sunset, but for people living in poverty there is no end to their hunger. ...read more.

Conclusion

A fasting Muslims may also become irritable, which could cause arguments that could have otherwise been avoided, and destroy relationships. Other people may also come to resent the person fasting, as they could try to use fasting as an excuse for not performing their usual duties. Another disadvantage of fasting during Ramadan is that it could interfere with social and family life. Eating with friends and relatives is seen as a very social event, and not being able to do so would limit a Muslim's social activities. This may affect their relationships, as friends and relatives may feel that the person no longer has time for them. Family life could be affected, as it would often be necessary for a Muslim woman to cook for her family, and then be unable to eat the food. As, for some people, eating together is an important part of family life, not being able to have a meal together may cause tension, or cause distance between family members. Also, Muslims fasting are not allowed to inhale cigarette smoke, so if a Muslim's friend's are heavy smokers, it may be necessary to limit contact with them throughout Ramadan. When a Muslim is fasting, this could draw attention to the fact that they are different. This could cause bullying and racism, as many people do not understand or respect other religions. Although this could be hurtful, it may have the affect of strengthening a Muslim's character. Although there are advantages and disadvantages for every Muslims across the world that is fasting during Ramadan, the negative aspects may be more apparent in non-Muslims countries. People living in these places, such as the UK, must rely on the strength of their beliefs, whereas Muslims in Islamic countries are able to rely on their friends, their family, and the Ummah. Fasting for healthy Muslims during Ramadan is not optional, as it is one of the Five Pillars, however, for them, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, as they are fasting for Allah. ...read more.

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