It is not right to believe that fasting is observed only by Muslims. For centuries, the fast remained a religious rite of Christians, Jews, Confucians, Hindus, Taoists, and also adherents of Jainism. The Lord says this in the Quran:
“O you who believe! You are prescribed a fast, just as he was prescribed to those who lived before you, perhaps you will become God-fearing “
(Quran 2: 183)
Some tribes of the American Indians kept fasting for the prevention of catastrophes and as an atonement for their sins. North American Indians fasted to protect themselves from imminent threat; And the Indians of Mexico and the Incas of Peru wanted to coax so their gods. If we take, for example, the peoples of the Old World, we can see that the Assyrians and Babylonians considered the post as a form of repentance. The annual fast in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) embodies the desire of the Jews to be cleansed from their sins. On this day they abstain from food and drink.
The fasting of Christians also speaks of their desire to repent and purify themselves. During the first two centuries of its existence, the Christian church established a fasting as a voluntary preparation for receiving the sacrament of Communion, baptism and the ordination of priests. Later, these fasting became mandatory. In the 6th century Lent was extended to 40 days, only once a day was allowed to eat. After the Reformation of the 16th century, most of the Protestant churches retained the fasting, and in some cases made it voluntary. Stricter Protestants, however, condemned not only church holidays, but also traditional fasting as well.
In the Roman Catholic Church, fasting means total or partial abstinence from eating and drinking. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the days of fasting of Roman Catholics. In the United States, mostly Anglicans and Lutherans (Protestants) are fasting, as well as conservative Jews, Orthodox and Roman Catholics.
In the West, the fasting acquired a different appearance. Propagandized by the leader of the struggle for India’s freedom Mahatma Gandhi, the hunger strike as a peculiar form of fasting has become a modern political weapon. He took advantage of the fast as a means of inviting his followers to obey his commandment of nonviolence.
Islam is the only religion that has carried through the ages the spiritual meaning of fasting. Selfish motivations and desires alienate people from the Creator. Pride, greed, gluttony, lust, envy and anger are by nature the most recalcitrant of human emotions. It is necessary to exert an incredible amount of effort to subjugate them. Observing fasting, Muslims purify their soul. He is like a bridle, which restrains the most wild, uncontrolled feelings. Wanting to cope with them, people were divided into two extremes. Someone went on about their emotions, which eventually led to the emergence of barbarism among the peoples of the ancient world; As well as to crude materialism and the ideology of consumption in modern times. Someone, on the contrary, tried to completely rid himself of such qualities and, in turn, became a supporter of monasticism.
The fourth pillar of Islam – fasting in Ramadan comes every year with the beginning of the 9th lunar month (the month of Ramadan) of the Muslim calendar.
“In the month of Ramadan, the Quran was sent down – a sure guide for people …” (Quran 2: 185)
In his never-ending mercy, the Lord relieved the sick, travelers, and others who are unable to fast in the month of Ramadan.
Fasting helps a Muslim to develop self-control, to realize how generous God is to us, to feel compassion for those in need. Fasting in Islam involves abstaining from all bodily pleasures from dawn to dusk. The prohibition extends not only to food, but also to sexual intercourse. Due to the sacredness of this month, the attitude to everything sinful becomes even more severe. For the love of God, a man suppresses his passions and desires every moment of fasting. This awareness of duty and patience strengthens faith. Man learns to control himself. Abstaining from what is permitted, such as eating and drinking, a person is better aware of his sins. A heightened sense of spirituality helps to overcome the habit of gossiping, lying, lustfully looking at the opposite sex, wasting time … When hungry and thirsty, a person realizes how distressed the situation of those who are constantly suffering from hunger. After all, how can anyone really understand a hungry person if he has never experienced the pangs of hunger? Now it becomes clear why Ramadan is also a month of charity and donations.
With the onset of dusk, believers interrupt the fasting with light food. Razgovenie, or “Iftar” collects at the table of relatives and friends. Often in honor of the holy month of Ramadan they prepare special food and sweets. Many Muslims go to the mosque for night prayer, followed by another special prayer, performed only in Ramadan. Some for this month, as an act of piety, completely read the Holy Quran. In the evenings one can hear the reading of the holy book of Muslims aloud. Believers rise before sunrise in order to take food sufficient to maintain their strength until sunset. Closer to the end of Ramadan, Muslims hold the “Night of Predestination” – the night of sending down the Holy Quran. One of the two great Islamic holidays – the feast of breaking up or’Id al-Fitr – marks the end of the holy month. On this day, Muslims happily celebrate the end of Ramadan, and, according to tradition, give presents to children. Muslims are also ordered to give zakat al-fitr – an obligatory charity, which is paid in the form of food. This is done so that all without exception: both the rich and the poor could enjoy the joy of the day (Id al-Fitr). Third Pillar Of Islam: Zakat (Charity)