Ramadan fasting - The fourth pillar of Islam

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Allah Almighty says in the glorious Quran:
“O you who believe! Observing the fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become the pious.” 
(Quran 2:183).

The Holy Quran makes it evident by prescribing Ramadan fasting as one of the cardinal principles of Islam. The primary objective of fasting is to promote righteousness – a progressive cultivation of spiritual values. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is reported to have said that who ever abstains from food and drink but does not strive to safeguard himself against moral lapses-strives to no purpose.

The month of Ramadan enjoys a special significance in the lunar calendar. It presents the challenge of self-discipline in abstaining from food, drink and sex from dawn to dusk.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: Three people will not have their supplication rejected and that is the just ruler, the fasting person until breaking the fast, and the supplication of the oppressed person, for Allah raises it above the clouds on the Day of resurrection, and the door of heaven will be opened for it.

Almighty Allah says in the Quran: “Observing fast for fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number of days, should be made up from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have a choice either to fast or to feed a poor person. But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if you know.” (Quran 2:184)
According to the above statement Allah offers the ‘fidyah’ (compensation) to those unable to fulfil the obligation of fasting. The sick person has to decide which of the two types of compensation should be honoured. An old feeble person, knowing the lasting nature of the prevalent condition will not change should chose the option of feeding a needy person for each day of the missed fast. A person who is temporarily ill and perhaps on prescribed medication interfering with the times of fasting will be liable to offer one day fasting for each missed day after the month of Ramadan. The woman in a state of menstruation and ‘Nifas’ (bleeding after the child birth) is not allowed to fast and has to offer the missed days. Mothers who are nursing their infants are also exempted from fasting. Fasting requires abstinence from food, drink and sexual relationship. Administering ear, nasal, eye drops, inhalants or injection (intravenous or intramuscular), does not invalidate the fast. These medications may enable a person to complete the obligatory fast with ease and comfort especially in the case of a diabetic taking an insulin injection or an asthmatic needing an inhaler to ease breathing. 

The beauty of Islam lies in moderation balance and kindness and universality of which Ramadan is the most striking symbol. A month of mercy and blessings, it requires serenity devotion, learning politeness, generosity and reaffirmation of Iman (faith) to be hallmark of a Muslim Society.

Fasting in Ramadan is not what is commonly known as going on a diet, Ramadan fasting has its own rules and prohibitions-its own system and social goals. Islam fasting is enjoined for the moral elevation and spiritual development of a person. It is not a mere abstention from food but a total abstention from all worldly pleasures. In addition the Ramadan fasting places everybody-the rich and the poor alike-the well-to-do experiences the pangs of hunger and thirst like their not so well-to-do brothers and sisters do. Fasting has moral as well as physical advantage. Fasting is actually a kind of training. It not only prepares a person for a life of hardship and austerity but also exercises a good effect upon his or her general health. It is a well-known teaching of the prophet that diet control is the best cure for many diseases a fact that has been proved by recent 
medical researches.  

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