Sawm and the Fasting
What is Sawm?
Sawm or Fasting, during the holy month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. The fast
is an act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Sawm
during Ramadan or any time is recognized as physically demanding but spiritually
It is the duty of all healthy muslims to observe the fast for this whole month. It is
done so that we will know what humility really is. Fasting is also an exercise in
self-control whereby one's sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the poor.
Who is it prescribed upon?
Fasting of Ramadan is a worship act which ordained upon every adult Muslim, male or female
if he/she is mentally and physically fit and not on a journey. Exceptions: women during
their period of menstruation and while nursing their child, and also in case of travel and
sickness for both men and women. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed
a needy person for every day missed.
Abstention and self control
Abstention means abstention completely from eating, drinking and intimate sexual contact
from dawn to sunset and curbing even the smallest of evil intentions and desires.
It is not a month of starvation since nutrition and hydration are ensured at night
although it is recommended to be taken in a mood of asceticism. As one conquers the daily
habits and endures hunger and thirst, Ramadan furnishes a first class drill in
self-restraint and will power (and what would humanity be if the faculty of self restraint
Eating and Drinking
Ramadan also is a joyful month. Muslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal,
iftar, "break-fast; "perform additional worship, tarawih, after evening prayer;
and throng the streets in moods that are festive and communal.
Improving physical and mental health
A fast does have positive health benefits, the stomach has been working for 24 hours a day
non stop fasting will give it a rest. Although beneficial to health it is regarded
principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly
comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go
hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life. Fasting is a very enriching experience
as one transcends the needs of our material component and cherishes the spiritual. The
month feels like going "into maintenance" and is almost like charging your
batteries for the rest of the year.
It teaches man the principle of sincere love to God. Fasting teaches man patience,
unselfishness, moderation, willpower, discipline, spirit of social belonging, unity and
It is not difficult to do so and this is only for one month. Is it too much to ask? The
poor are forced to do it for the 24 hours a day all year round. When we know how lucky we
are to live a comfortable live and our duty next is to help the poor
When does it occur?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It begins with the sighting of the new
moon. The month of Ramadan is part of the lunar calendar, and since this is eleven days
shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan comes eleven days earlier every year which
allows fasting in various seasons and weather throughout a life time.
What happens at the End of Ramadan
Intensified worship and charity are a feature of the month. At its conclusion Muslims
preform a a special collective morning prayer. Celebration start at the end of the Eid
with a spirit of joyous achievement by four days of celebration called eid al-fitr, the
feast of the Breaking of the Fast. Customarily, it is a time for family reunion and the
favored holiday for children who receive new clothing and gifts from family members and