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How the Muslim Fast is Different From Others
Reprinted from IslamOnLine Sep 99. To subscribe to IslamOnLine, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line and body of the message.
One of my colleagues at work invited me to the Christmas Eve luncheon. I excused myself by saying that I am fasting.
"Then you can just drink some water," he said. This was an opportunity for me to explain to him that fasting is prescribed to us (Muslims) as it was prescribed to those before us, but this does not mean that the Muslim fast is like the other fasts previously observed or are observed by others now.
Details of our fast had to be given mentioning that ours is a total abstinence from food, water, smoking and even sexual activities, from dusk till dawn. When we fast we should also abstain from lying, stealing, arguing, fighting, back biting, We spend the duration of the fast in the rememberance of Allah and avoid all sorts of evil thoughts and actions.
The Muslim fast is as spiritual and moral as is physical. The instincts for food, drink and sex are strong in the animal nature, and temporary restraint from all these enables the attention to be directed to higher things.
Then our friend was informed that it was the Holy month of Ramadan in which Qur'an, The Last and Final Revelation of God to the entire mankind, was revealed.
"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you As it was prescribed To those before you, That ye may (learn) Self-restraint-
"(Fasting) for a fixed Number of days; But if any of you is ill, Or on a journey, The prescribed number (Should be made up) From days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, The feeding of one That is indigent But he that will give More, of his own free will- It is better for him. And it is better for you That ye fast, If ye only knew.
"Ramadan is the (month) In which was sent down The Qur'an, as a guide To mankind, also clear (signs) For guidance and judgement (Between right and wrong). So every one of you Who is present (at his home) During that month Should spend it in fasting, But if any one is ill, Or on a journey, The prescribed period (Should be made up) By days later. Allah intends every facility For you; He does not want To put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete The prescribed period, And to glorify Him In that He has guided you; And perchance ye shall be grateful."
(The Holy Qur'an Chapter 2: Verse 183-185)
Hazrat Abu Hurairah RadiAllahuAnhu relates that The Holy Prophet, Muhammad ((may Peace and Blessing of Allah be on him) said, 'When somebody breaks the fast then they should do so with a date. If they do not get it, then with water for it is pure and purifies others.'