[UPDATED 4 Apr 2021]
In less than a week's time, Ramadan 2021 will be observed by Muslims worldwide. The main component of this holy month is fasting from dawn to dusk. Many non-Muslims have always asked this question, why do Muslims fast?
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is special for Muslims. As you might already know, it's far more than just abstaining from food and drinks. Let’s start off with this question. What is Ramadan? Ramadan is the 9th month on the Islamic Lunar Calendar and is the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down as a guide for mankind through Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The “Night of Power” (or Lailatul Qadr) is also celebrated during the month of Ramadan and is the holiest night of the holiest month in the calendar ?
Here is a list of reasons why Muslims fast for the entire month of Ramadan ?
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1. Pillar of Islam
Islam is divided into 5 pillars. The 5 pillars of Islam are mandatory acts of worship for every Muslim. The first pillar is the ‘shahadah’, the statement every Muslim should profess, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. The second pillar is the five daily obligatory prayers.
The third is the act of charity (or Zakat). The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting (or puasa/saum) during days on which they are compulsory. There are many situations where fasting becomes compulsory in Islam, one of which is fasting during the month of Ramadan. The fifth and final pillar of Islam is the holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
2. Spiritual Healing
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to practice patience and avoid getting upset or angry. The anger may lead to hurting others, whether verbally or physically, which may nullify the fast for that day. Doing so, one must pay back the fast after the month of Ramadan.
Credit: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore on Facebook
Muslims also perform extra acts of worship such as Tarawih prayers every night and are encouraged to spend their days reading the Quran instead of non-beneficial activities such as playing games or engaging in activities which may trigger emotional distress. It is through these acts of worship that make us feel at ease and stress-free during the month of Ramadan ❤️
The month of Ramadan is also where Muslims give thanks through prayer for whatever they have achieved and received throughout the year - whether it meant getting As in a recent major exam or getting a promotion in the workplace. Or simply just giving thanks for a wonderful, amazing life!
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims also tend to get more appreciative of their lives especially during the breaking of the fast at dusk. Every Muslim family around the world break their fasts differently. There may be families who can afford a great feast while some may not have a proper meal ?
4. Rebuilding and Renewing Ties with Loved Ones
Ramadan also allows families to get together for the breaking of fast as advised by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). As Muslims, we often take this opportunity to rebuild and renew ties with our loved ones and close friends by spending more time with each other.
Credit: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Facebook
Muslim families would bond over Hari Raya preparations throughout the month of Ramadan. Some of us would also choose to bake yummy Hari Raya goodies or simply spend time with family or have iftar together.
5. Focus and Resisting Temptations
In today’s modern society, Muslims living as a minority in several countries may have to go through a rather common struggle, temptations.
Focus then comes into play to stray away from these unavoidable distractions and temptations. Reading the Quran and performing acts of worship during fasting would allow us to focus on our fast and shun away the temptations.
As Muslims perform their fast during Ramadan, they must spare a thought or two for those who don’t enjoy the same privilege.
There are Muslims who are unable to fast due to sickness or old age and for those who are able, they might not be able to afford a decent meal to break their fast. As Muslims, we're advised to help those in need and those who are less fortunate, even more so during the month of Ramadan.
Credit: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Facebook
P.S. Finding more ways to help during Ramadan? Check out our list of things you can do in Singapore and Malaysia to help the less fortunate!
Detox during Ramadan is to abstain from bad habits which may harm a Muslim spiritually and literally. Here's an example, Muslim smokers must abstain from smoking during their fast, which may be a starting point for them to kick their habit and carry on beyond Ramadan ?
Ramadan can also provide an opportunity for Muslims to bring themselves closer to the religion, closer to Allah. Kicking bad habits, avoiding illegal activities (in the eyes of the religion) and turning over a new leaf InsyaAllah ❤️
Fitness enthusiasts would agree that fasting is beneficial for the digestive system and aids in muscle recovery and body purification, ridding the body of toxins. This is provided we don't overeat during sahur (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (break fast meal) ?
It's been a tradition for all Muslims, since the days of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), to have dates and milk, especially during the sahur. Dates are not only healthy, they provide sufficient energy for a long day ahead, especially for an active fasting Muslim.
Muslims are also advised to keep active when they are fasting rather than just being a couch potato the entire day! Don’t be surprised to see some of us working out in the gym or jogging around during our fast ?
We hope this article has shed some light on why Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan. Non-Muslims are also welcomed to join in the fast and experience how it is like to live in the shoes of a fellow Muslim during the month of Ramadan. So if you have non-Muslim friends, ask them to join in the Ramadan festivities and encourage them to try fasting. If you're a non-Muslim, why not give yourself a challenge and try fasting for a day? We're pretty sure the experience would leave you humbled ☺️