The third pillar of Islam is fasting. Fasting has many spiritual, physical, and behavioral benefits along with being a religious obligation of Islam. One month out of the year we celebrate Ramadan (the month of fasting). Ramadan is a extraordinary month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. Ramadan is also a time of intense worship, reading of the Quran, giving charity, cleansing one's behavior, self-control and doing good deeds. Abstaining from our bodily desires during the daylight hours gives us more time to dedicate to Allah, which brings us closer to God.
Out of Love for Allah
Observing fasting is accomplished out of love for Allah. The one who loves God truly will be the successful in the next life. While we fast, we prove our devotion, dedication and closeness to God. We fast for Allah and for His sake alone, we keep our fast. All Muslims are brought into social equality, and brotherhood. The gap between financial statuses is broken down. Feeling the pains of deprivation, enduring them with patience, developing sympathy for the poor, and learning to be thankful for all of Allah's blessings.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The much-anticipated start of the month is based on sightings of the moon and astrological calculations. Each area of the world relies on different calculations for the moon if it can not be seen do to weather conditions. In the United States, most communities follow the decision of the Islamic Society of North America, which accepts legitimate sightings of the new moon anywhere in the United States.
The end of the month, marked by the celebration of 'Eid-ul-Fitr, is similarly determined. Only during Ramadan is fasting mandatory. Seriously ill, travelers, children under the praying age, women who are having post partum bleeding, and woman during her monthly period are exempted from the fast. The woman who is pregnant or the one who is breast-feeding can break fast if they fear for themselves or their children. If you begin fasting and then become sick you are allowed to break your fast. If traveling over the equivalent of 80 km, it is up to you to fast or not. Each person excluding children are required to make up their fast or feed the poor. The Quran says [2-185]so evey one of you who is present during that month (Ramadan) should spend it in fasting.
Fasting should begin by making the intention the night before. The intention should be made in your heart. Muhammad (pbuh) said that all actions are judged by intention. It is recommended to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) before dawn and a post-fast meal (iftar) after sunset. It is forbidden while fasting to eat or to drink or to allow any water to enter the body threw the mouth, nose or ear. This also includes any gums or mints. The only substance that may enter the body is water during wudu. If you eat or drink while fasting forgetfully or mistakenly, or due to other persons threats, you do not need to Qada (make up your fast) but you should continue fasting when you are able or aware. Deliberately inducing vomiting will break your fast and requires Qada. If you vomit with out meaning to you should continue you’re fast so long as you did not swallow back any of the vomit. You must also abstain from smoking, and marital sex. Who ever has intercourse with (penetration and ejaculation) your fast is broken. You must then Qada, and Kaffarah (free a slave or fast for sixty days consecutively or feed sixty poor people) If you approached each other without penetrating and without ejaculating your fast would continue. The same rules apply for kissing. Kissing without entering each others mouths will not break the fast.
What else should You Know?
Here is a sampling of common phrases used during fasting: