All You Need To Know About The Ramadan Fasting Tradition

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Ramadan is a key period in the Islamic faith and involves Muslims fasting in daylight hours for an entire month.

They are not permitted to eat, smoke, have sex or even drink water during this time. The custom ends with the blowout celebration of Eid al-Fitr, which this year falls on Friday 15 June.

So why do Muslims fast during Ramadan? Where does the custom originate?

The tradition of Ramadan, which takes place over the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, comes straight from the Quran. In Chapter 2, Verse 185, it reads: ‘O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed to those before you in order that you may attain taqwa.’

Taqwa is a state where one is totally guarded from the forces of evil, and has a pure heart and mind, with the base instincts of their human nature curtailed. The discipline required to complete Ramadan is supposed to purify a Muslim to make her or him closer to God, but it also teaches them what it’s like to be less fortunate and unable to eat. Muslims give more to charity throughout the month as well.

Each day of Ramadan, Muslims break fast at sundown with a meal called Iftar, which traditionally involves dates and soup. But young children, people on prescription medicines, people on grueling journeys, the infirm, the elderly, and pregnant women, as well as women on their period, are exempt from the rules of Ramadan. However, if a woman is unable to adhere to the rules of Ramadan because she’s feeding her baby, or an old person is too frail to enter into Ramadan, they have to make up for it.

The woman has to fast at a later stage for the same number of days she’s missed, as well as feed a person in need (through food or monetary donations) every day for the Ramadan dates she missed. The frail person has to feed a person for the equivalent number of days they have missed. Meanwhile if someone deliberately breaks fast during Ramadan, they must go through Kaffaraah, which means ‘atonement’ or ‘expiation’. This involves fasting for 60 consecutive days or feeding 60 needy people / giving in charity the amount equal to the cost of feeding 60 needy people.


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