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Fasting

Fasting is one of the most important duties in Islam. All the Prophets sent by Allah before Muhammad (s), the Holy Prophet of Islam, commanded their followers to fast and also taught them how to fast.

Ramadan is the month of glory. It is a month of fasting and intensive prayer, a month of sacrifice and divine worship. Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed as a guide to mankind.

In this month the Muslims wake up, every night, a couple of hours earlier than the Adhan (Prayer Call for dawn prayers) and begin preparations for commencing the fast. They eat and drink something while it is still dark and then begin praying to Allah. The fast begins immediately before dawn.

During the fast one is not permitted to eat or drink anything. If one does so, the fast becomes null and void. It is also nulled by many other actions, for example, diving in water, smoking etc.

Fast terminates with the setting of the sun and with the call to dusk prayers. Thereafter people who have been fasting during the daytime are at liberty to eat and drink.

The real purpose of fasting is not achieved only by remaining hungry and thirsty. The philosophy lying behind fasting demands that one should try to refrain from evil deeds and sins; should be loving and kind to others and should not indulge in back-biting or do harm to anyone.

Moreover, fasting is good precautionary measure against the incidence of a number of diseases.

It is worth-noting that fasting, besides its emotional and moral effects, produces remarkable social effects also.

From the social point of view, for example, it induces people to show practical sympathy to the deprived and the starving.

Fasting is useful for our morals and health.

Questions

1. Is Islam the first religion to command fasting?

2. What is the special characteristic of 'Ramadan'?

3. What is the philosophy lying behind fasting?

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