Even if you’re not Muslim, you would know that every year, Muslims will fast for a month during a month they call Ramadhan.
So, what is Ramadan, and why do Muslims fast?
What is Ramadhan?
Similar to the Gregorian calendar, Islam also has 12 months but Ramadan represents the 9th month and is considered a holy month, one that is observed by Muslims worldwide as a period of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community.
In Islam, fasting is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam, following Belief, Prayer, Zakat and placed before Hajj.
Why do Muslims fast?
Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan as a way to purify the soul, practice self-discipline, and increase their devotion to Allah SWT. These are some of the reasons, but it also extends to practicing empathy towards those who are less fortunate, and Muslims are encouraged to perform more charitable deeds, especially towards the people who do not have similar privileges or luxuries.
Above all, it is also a month that encourages Muslims to reflect on their relationship with God and the people around them.
How is fasting done?
Depending on how long daylight is, and where Muslims live all over the world, the general consensus is that fasting is performed from dawn till dusk..
Muslims are prohibited from eating and drinking (yes, even water) but also abstain themselves from other deeds as well such as physical needs, and are encouraged to be mindful of their words and actions.
Benefits of fasting
It has been scientifically-proven that fasting provides ample benefits such as detoxification and disease prevention. Muslims also adhere to these beliefs, but also extend their justification further. Among them are:
- Improved physical health: Fasting helps improve physical health by reducing inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity, and promoting weight loss.
- Mental clarity: Fasting helps improve mental clarity by reducing brain fog and increasing focus and concentration.
- Spiritual growth: Fasting allows individuals to focus on their relationship with Allah and their inner selves.
There are a lot of misconceptions about fasting—especially involving the courtesy and culture surrounding it.
Contrary to popular belief, fasting Muslims don’t really mind it when non-Muslims eat in front of them. It’s really thoughtful that their experiences are being taken into account, but fasting is a deeply personal journey and also a communal benefit. So don’t worry!
It is also a huge misconception that every Muslim has to fast. Islam allows for a lot of leniency in fasting, especially towards individuals who suffer from chronic conditions such as gastric pain, migraines, and even individuals who have mental health issues. Fasting is not required for individuals with special needs, as the biggest requirement to be eligible to fast is a sound mind.
All in all, Ramadan is a wonderful time for all Muslims because of the holy symbolism it brings, but its wonder also extends to all Malaysians because of one shared commonality: FOOD! The bazaars are always something to look forward to, regardless of your religion or ethnicity—so stay tuned for our next article as we highlight some staple bazaar Ramadan food for you to buy.