Fasting is one of the most important acts of worship in Islam. It means to avoid certain actions from dawn until night-time. The main actions to be avoided are eating, drinking and sexual activity. It is obligatory to fast during the month of Ramadhan. This is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This means that it falls at different times on the Gregorian calendar, coming forward by 11 days each year.
Fasting is one of the best ways of coming closer to Allah (SWT). As we will see, fasting is not just keeping away from food and drink; rather it is the most sincere acts of worship which has degrees and levels.
Types of fasting
Natural fasting: This is like keeping a diet. There are no benefits in the Hereafter whatsoever.
Jurisprudential Fasting: This is the fasting prescribed by the laws of Islam, in which one avoids the above-mentioned things from dawn till night-time. This brings about reward from Allah (SWT) for meeting this obligation.
Ethical Fasting: This is not only avoiding the things that break the fast from a jurisprudential point of view, but also avoiding sins with all organs of the body. Examples of such sins include lying and cheating. We must make it our aim at the beginning of every Ramadhan that our fast be at least an ethical fast, and not just a jurisprudential fast. Imam al-Sadiq (as) says:
“When you fast, you should safeguard your tongues, lower your gaze, and you should neither dispute with nor envy one another."
The Month of Ramadhan
The month of Ramadhan is full of blessings and mercy. It is a catalyst for changing bad habits and a time where we hope to become better people. It is important to use our time as productively as possible in the month of Ramadhan, engaging in worship and positive deeds, and also to avoid bad habits in this month such as laziness or feasting at night.
Some of the recommended actions during the month of Ramadhan include recitation of the Qur'an, supplicating to Allah (SWT), and offering voluntary Salat.
Exemption from Fasting
Certain people are exempt from fasting. This includes:
-Those who are sick (or who suffer extreme hardship during fasting)
-Pregnant women who are in the later stages of pregnancy or find it very difficult to fast
-Travellers: in certain situations a travelling person who is leaving their home city is exempt from fasting
To learn more about the rules of fasting, click here.