Ramadan | See the only kind of Muslims who are allowed to Fast. In Nigeria all muslims are ready to fast for the Ramadan period. For these muslims, its time to deprive their body and starve their soul in order to leave a more rigtheous and holy life. Lets see why Muslims fast and which set of Muslims are allowed to fast.
Why do Muslims fast?
Fasting (sawm in Arabic), is one of the five key pillars underpinning the Islamic faith. The others are prayer (salat), giving a percentage of your salary to charity (zakat), making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and, of course, a belief in the Muslim faith (shahadah).
Fasting is seen as a way to purify spiritually as well as physically – a time to detach from material pleasures and be closer to God. The act of fasting is also believed to increase Muslims’ piety, reminding them that others are less fortunate than themselves.
Fasting involves abstaining from all food, drink, smoking and having sex from sunrise to sunset. Muslims will wake up before sunrise for morning prayer and to eat before the day’s fast begins. Most will break their fast alongside their families in the evening with a communal “Iftar” meal, typically often started with dates.
Do all Muslims have to fast?
Fit and able adults are expected to fast, but children and elderly people are exempt. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone who is sick and anyone travelling on a journey are also exempt.
Women who are on their periods are not expected to fast but make up the missed days at a later date.
What happens when Ramadan ends?
The end of the fasting month is marked with a big feast, the exchanging of gifts and celebrations, known as “Eid-ul-Fitr”.
Does geography play a role?
There is an active debate among British Muslims about whether to apply a literal understanding of instructions about fasting during daytime and a practical interpretation, taking account of the longer daylight hours.
Many Muslims in Scandanavian countries, where there is only a short period of darkness in summer, use Turkey as a model.
Overall Ramadan is a time for Muslims to exercise self-discipline and restraint both spiritually and physically, as well as empathising with the plight of the poor.