By: Beyza Guvenc
Each year, your Muslim friends and classmates “fast” for a month due to “religious reasons.”
But what is fasting anyway? And why do they do it? I’m here to answer your questions.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar. Since the Islamic Calendar is lunar, the days of Ramadan occur at different times each year, and can’t be known for sure until the new moon has been sighted.
This month contains many sacred events for Muslims, including the revelation of the Quran (the holy book of Islam).
“Fasting” (or صوم in Arabic) is the practice of abstaining from food and water from dawn to dusk. It is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, made obligatory for all Muslims (with certain exceptions). Contrary to popular belief, though, fasting does not only refer to food. During this period, Muslims also refrain from all things considered impure for the mind and body. Many people try to drop negative habits, like cursing, smoking, and lying. Instead, they fill their time with worship, reflection, and aid to their community. This month is an opportunity for Muslims to focus solely on strengthening their relationship with God amidst the hectic distractions of day-to-day life.
Besides its religious benefits, fasting also proves to be a great way to renew and boost one’s metabolism. In an academic journal written by Pharmacologist Naina Maideen and her peers, it was discovered that fasting could lead to reduced blood pressure, cardiac protection, cancer prevention, and extension of lifespan, amongst many others. Fasting has even begun being practiced by non-Muslims due to its numerous health benefits!
This year, the first day of fasting is estimated to land on Thursday, March 23rd, and go through April 22nd (or so). The hard work and dedication of the month will then follow with 3 days of celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or simply “Eid.” Eid is celebrated in numerous ways, including the sharing of sweets, participating in Eid prayers, getting henna tattoos, and exchanging gifts.
So the next time you notice a Muslim friend saying “no” to food and water, you know why! And yes, “not even water!”
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