Month of Fasting begins Oct. 15

Edward Kearns

Edward Kearns

Fasting is the third pillar, or religious obligation, of Islam. On Oct. 15, millions of Muslims around the world will begin Ramadan, the Month of Fasting.

Ramadan is seen as a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah and self control. Self- control is one of the main benefits of fasting.

Voluntary fasting is always recommended, but during this period, Muslims are obligated to fast. The sick, travelers and women in certain conditions are exempt from the fast but must make it up when possible.

From the break of dawn until the sunsets, Muslims must abstain from food, drink, smoking and marital sex. All of these things are viewed as distractions while trying to become closer to Allah.

In common practice there is a pre-fast meal (suhoor), and a post-fast meal after sunset (iftar).

Many Muslims break the fast at sunset by eating dates. This is followed by a sunset prayer and then dinner.

The primary goal of Ramadan is to bring Muslims closer to Allah. It is believed this is achieved by removing the preoccupation with satisfying the physical appetite. A secondary goal is to make people feel hunger and develop sympathy for the less fortunate.

Ramadan is also a time for intense worship, reading the Qur’an, giving charity, purifying one’s behavior and doing good deeds.