Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ramadan and The Fasting Culture

It's this time of the year again, yes it's Ramadan month. Ramadan is the ninth month of Islamic calendar when our Muslims brothers and sisters are fasting. Fasting, in Islamic teaching, means Muslims are prohibited to eat, drink, smoke, or perform any sexual acts since before sunrise until after sunset. It is also expected that during Ramadan, they are abstaining from sinful speech and behavior. Muslims considered Ramadan as a holy month because it is in this month that The Quran is given to Muhammad by God. When Muslims do good things in Ramadan, supposedly they will receive more rewards than when they do it any other time of the year.

Although I'm not a Muslim, I have been participating in fasting since about 3 years ago. To me personally, fasting is an act of humility. We are restrained from our usual behavior (eating, drinking, cursing, etc.) and we are expected to live in peace with each other. By fasting, we have a chance to take a short peek about other people who have lesser life than ours financially. Fasting teaches us to be grateful of our life and empathize others.

Muslims fasting is different than Christians'. First of all, it is done during Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic calendar, during which Muhammad was believed to have received The Quran from God. In Islam, Muslims are prohibited to eat anything during the day. They do suhoor, which is the pre-fast meal before Fajr Prayer, and they break the fast by doing iftar after Maghrib Prayer. In Christian teachings, fasting is done during the liturgical year called Lent. Lent period lasts for about 6 weeks (approx. 40 days) leading up to Easter Sunday. Christians fast following Jesus' own fast which He did for forty days in the desert where he endured The Devil's temptation. Christian fasting is the reduction of one's intake of food to one full meal. We are allowed to drink water but we are not allowed to eat solid food the whole day except the one full meal. Complete abstinence (avoidance of meat the whole day) is also required for those who are 14 or older. It is usually done each Friday during Lent period. There are five type of abstinences: food abstinence, tobacco smoking abstinence, alcohol abstinence, pleasure abstinence, and sexual abstinence. When we do complete abstinence, we are not allowed to do each of those abstinences.

Personally, I do both fasting each year as best as I can. It's a great moment for self-contemplation, spiritual reflection, and improvement. It has nothing to do with my belief, but it has everything to do with my self improvement. I feel I have good chance to be better person by keeping a mental reminder of where I am right now. Fasting is one of my personal reminder about the unfortunate, so that I can stay grateful of my life.

Happy fasting. :)

(P.S. My sincere apologies if I write something wrong about Islam since my sole source is Wikipedia.

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