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Ramadan (The Month of Fasting)

In the Arabic language, the word Siyam has two meanings.

The root word for Siyam or Sawm is Sama. It means abstaining or stopping oneself from
something which Muslims normally do i.e. eating, drinking and having sexual
relationship with one’s spouse etc.

Muslims are commanded by Allah (God) to observe fasting during the month of

َ ‫ﻦ َﻗ ْﺒِﻠ ُﻜ ْﻢ َﻟ َﻌﱠﻠ ُﻜ ْﻢ َﺗ ﱠﺘﻘُﻮ‬
ْ ‫ﻦ ِﻣ‬
َ ‫ﻋﻠَﻰ اﱠﻟﺬِﻳ‬
َ ‫ﺐ‬
َ ‫ﺼﻴَﺎ ُم َآﻤَﺎ ُآ ِﺘ‬
‫ﻋَﻠ ْﻴ ُﻜ ُﻢ اﻟ ﱢ‬
َ ‫ﺐ‬
َ ‫ﻦ ﺁ َﻣﻨُﻮا ُآ ِﺘ‬
َ ‫ﻳَﺎ َأ ﱡﻳﻬَﺎ اﱠﻟﺬِﻳ‬
"O you who believe! Fasting is enjoined upon you in the same way as
it was enjoined upon others before you so that you may become pious."
Surah (Chapter) al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:183

Sawm (Fasting) is the last of the traditional five pillars of Islam, and an important form
of Islamic 'Ibadah (Worship).
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad ‫ ﺻﻠﻰ اﷲ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ وﺳﻠﻢ‬said: Five things are the
foundation of Islam:

To declare and believe that there is no one worthy of worship but

Allah (God) and
Muhammad ‫ ﺻﻠﻰ اﷲ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ وﺳﻠﻢ‬is (the last) Rasul (Messenger) of
Allah (God),
2. To offer Salah (Prayers) five times every day,
To pay Zakah (Compulsory Charity) to the poor and the needy
once a (Lunar) year,
4. Going to Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka'bah) once in one's lifetime,
To fast during the month of Ramadan every year.

Fasting is a kind of worship for achieving self-discipline and self-cleansing, in which

Muslims abstain from Halal (Lawful) things also such as all types of eatables,
temptations, wrong-doings and sexual indulgence with their spouces from dawn to dusk.
Muslims are enjoined to observe month long fasting in the month of Ramadan (9th
month of Islamic calendar).
Arabic word for fasting is Sawm.
Sawm means to stop oneself from something.
While observing Sawm (Fasting), Muslims stop themselves from eating, drinking,
smoking and having sexual intercourse with their spouses. The requirement of Sawm
(Fasting) is not only to go hungry and thirsty during the day. The basic requirement of
Sawm (Fasting) is total abstention and shielding from all sorts of evils and vices. Sawm
(Fasting) requires a total cleansing of the body and mind.
While observing Sawm (Fasting), Muslims abstain from food, water, sexual desires,
loose talk, lies, backbiting, unfair dealings and any other bad acts or desires.
Sawm (Fasting) helps in staying away from everything that is disliked by Allah (God).

Abu Hurayrah ‫ رﺿﻲ اﷲ ﻋﻨﻪ‬narrated: The Prophet ‫ ﺻﻠﻰ اﷲ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ وﺳﻠﻢ‬said,

"Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is
not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept
his fasting.)"(Bukhari)

Sawm (Fasting) makes Muslims pious. Besides increasing Taqwa (Fear of Allah,
Righteousness), Sawm (Fasting) also shields Muslims from evil acts.

Fasting is a protection and a strong fortress that keeps a person safe

from the Fire. (Ahmad)

It gives them a total control over their desires.

Abu Hurayrah ‫ رﺿﻲ اﷲ ﻋﻨﻪ‬narrated: Allah's Apostle ‫ﺻﻠﻰ اﷲ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ وﺳﻠﻢ‬

said, "Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person
observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should
not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him
or abuses him, he should tell him twice, 'I am fasting." The Prophet
added, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out
from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than
the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), 'He has left
his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will
reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is
multiplied ten times."
(Sahih Bukhari)

Muslim ‘Ulema” (Scholars) are unanimous in equating Muslims who do not fast during
Ramadan without any legitimate excuse to grave sinners; and many of them do not even
consider them even Muslims.

Every able-bodied adult or adolescent Muslim must observe fasting during the month of
Ramadan. Allah (God) has created human beings for the purpose of His worship by
performing acts that please Him. Humans must try their best to reflect good. Self
discipline and self-control is essential for the Islamic way of life. Fasting not only
disciplines a person but also inculcates self-control in that person.

There are many people in this world that end up wasting more food in a party than many
could afford in an entire year. Such people do not have any understanding of the
problems of the poor or the needy. They cannot comprehend the feelings of the needy and
poor, because they have never undergone the same type of pain due to hunger and thirst.
The more fortunate have understand and be more considerate to the needy, if they,
themselves were to go through some of the circumstances that these people have to pass
through every day. He made fasting obligatory so that everyone should feel hunger and
thirst so that whenever one comes across a hungry or thirsty person, one should have at
least some sympathy for them. This was the philosophy behind fasting to which Allah
refers in His Book in the following words:
"Perhaps you may become pious."

َ ‫ﻦ َﻗ ْﺒِﻠ ُﻜ ْﻢ َﻟ َﻌﱠﻠ ُﻜ ْﻢ َﺗ ﱠﺘﻘُﻮ‬
ْ ‫ﻦ ِﻣ‬
َ ‫ﻋﻠَﻰ اﱠﻟﺬِﻳ‬
َ ‫ﺐ‬
َ ‫ﺼﻴَﺎ ُم َآﻤَﺎ ُآ ِﺘ‬
‫ﻋَﻠ ْﻴ ُﻜ ُﻢ اﻟ ﱢ‬
َ ‫ﺐ‬
َ ‫ﻦ ﺁ َﻣﻨُﻮا ُآ ِﺘ‬
َ ‫ﻳَﺎ َأ ﱡﻳﻬَﺎ اﱠﻟﺬِﻳ‬
"O You who believe! Fasting is enjoined upon you in the same
way as it was enjoined upon others before you so that you may
become pious."
Surah (Chapter) al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:183

The Arabic word Tattaqun means to inculcate the habit of fear in oneself of the
consequences of the Hereafter, and become a perfect human being. It means that
everyone should always have the consequences of one’s dealing before one’s eyes. As
one will sow, so one shall reap. If today, we have ignored the hunger and thirst of a needy
and poor despite resources, there will certainly come one day when we shall be totally