Template:Fiqh-The Sawm (Template:Lang-ar) is an Arabic word for fasting regulated by Islamic jurisprudence. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means "to abstain from eating, drinking or seeing what is against Islam, the saying of rude language". The observance of sawm during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, but is not confined to that month.
Ṣawm is derived from Template:Lang-syr ṣawmā. Literally, it means "to abstain", cognates to Hebrew tsom.
For example, the Muslims of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Bangladesh, and Pakistan use the word rozah/roza/roja which comes from the Indo-Iranian language of Dari. In Turkey, Sawm is called oruç (compare Kyrgyz öröz), while the Malay community in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore call it puasa, which is derived from Sanskrit, upvaasa. Puasa is also used in Indonesia, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines. Interestingly, the word is also found in the Maltese language.
Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in sexual intercourse from dawn (fajr) to sunset (maghrib). Fasting is essentially an attempt to seek nearness to Allah and increase one's piety. One of the remote aims of fasting is to sympathize with those less fortunate ones who do not always have food and drink readily available. Also one must try to avoid cursing and thinking evil thoughts. Fasting is also viewed as a means of controlling one's desires (of hunger, thirst, sexuality, anger) and focusing more on devoting oneself to God.
Sawm also carries a significant spiritual meaning. It teaches one the principle of love: because when one observes Fasting, it is done out of deep love for God and to learn self restraint.
Fasting in the Qur'anIn the Qur'an, this practice is mentioned:
Conditions of Fasting
For a fast to be intentional/valid in the first instance, an intention (niyyah) must be made beforehand; this is considered to form an oath. It is not required to be made verbally, but without being performed the fast is not valid.
Throughout the duration of the fast itself, Muslims will abstain from certain provisions that the Qur'an has otherwise allowed; namely eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. This is in addition to the standard obligation already observed by Muslims of avoiding that which is not permissible under Qur'anic or Shari'ah law (e.g. ignorant and indecent speech, arguing and fighting, and lustful thoughts). Without observing this standard obligation, Sawm is rendered useless, and is seen simply as an act of starvation. The fasting should be a motive to be more benevolent to the fellow-creatures. Charity to the poor and needy in this month is one of most rewardable worship.
If one is sick, nursing or traveling, one is considered exempt from fasting. Any fasts broken or missed due to sickness, nursing or traveling must be made up whenever the person is able before the next month of Ramadan. According to the Qur'an, for all other cases, not fasting is only permitted when the act is potentially dangerous to one's health - for example; those elderly who are too weak to fast for extended periods of time, diabetics, nursing, and pregnant women, but this must be made up by paying a fidyah which is essentially the iftaar, dinner and suhur for a fasting person who requires such financial help.
According to the clear guidance of the Qur’ān and the Sunnah if someone does not afford fasting due to illness or traveling he is permitted to leave the fast and complete the left over fasts later on. However, the question of those suffering a permanent disease has not been resolved in the sources. One view is that they can leave the obligation if medical experts advise this. As to the question how to compensate for the failing it is held that they can feed a poor person a meal in lieu of every fast to make up for the obligation. Such a delinguent person should always be willing to fast when granted health.
Observing the fast is not permitted for menstruating women. However, when a woman's period has ceased, she must bathe and continue fasting. Any fasts broken or missed due to menstruation must be made up whenever she can before the next month of Ramadan. Women must fast at times when not menstruating, as the Qur'an indicates that all religious duties are ordained for both men and women.
Breaking oaths and the consequences
During Ramadan, one who fasts and breaks the oath out of forgetfulness must nevertheless continue, since the fast will remain valid. If, however, one unintentionally breaks the fast, by eating, drinking, or smoking, then they must continue for the rest of the day, add one day onto their fast and pay a "penalty'" (fidyah). Fidyah differ in the different schools of thought. In Malaysia however, a fidyah consists of the amount of rice used for a meal.
However if one intentionally breaks the fast, for example by eating, a set of "penalties" (kaffarra) shall apply. These exist in two forms, of which the person must choose one:
- Fasting for an extra 60 consecutive days
- Feeding and clothing 60 people in need
Penalties for voluntary fasts at other times of the year, are, however, more lenient; if an oath is given, and circumstances dictate that if broken (or if the one giving the oath deliberately breaks it), one needs to fast for three days consecutively if they cannot initially find 10 poor people to feed and provide clothing for (both of which are commanded before the act of fasting as a form of repentance). The penalties are harsher during Ramadan because all mentally able Muslims are expected to have an increased awareness of the fast at that time.
Beginning and ending the Fast
In accordance with traditions handed down from Muhammad, Muslims eat a pre-dawn meal called the suhoor. All eating and drinking must be finished before azaan-ul-Fajr, the pre-dawn call to prayer. Unlike the Salat-ul-Zuhr and Salat-ul-Maghrib prayers, which have clear astronomical definitions (noon and sunset), there are several definitions used in practice for the timing of "true dawn" (al-fajr as-sadiq), as mentioned in the hadith. These range from when the center of the sun is 12 to 21 degrees below the horizon  which equates to about 40 to 60 minutes before civil dawn. There are no restrictions on the morning meal other than the restrictions on Muslims diet. After completing the suhoor, Muslims recite the fajr prayer. No food or water is allowed to go down the throat after the suhoor. However, water unlike food may enter the mouth, but not go down the throat during wudu.
The meal eaten to end the fast is known as al-Iftar. Muslims, following the Sunnah of the Prophet, Muhammad, break the fast with dates and water, before praying Salat-ul-Maghrib, after which they might eat a more wholesome meal.
Benefits of fasting
Fasting inculcates a sense of fraternity and solidarity, as Muslims can feel and experience that which needy and hungry humans feel. However, even the poor, needy, and hungry participate in the fast. Moreover, Ramadan is a month of giving charity and sharing meals to break the fast together, the latter offering more reward than if eating alone. Most importantly, the fast is also seen as a great sign of obedience by the believer to Allah. Faithful observance of the Sawm is believed to atone for personal faults and misdeeds and to help earn a place in paradise.
As briefly mentioned earlier, fasting can also be observed voluntarily (as part of the Greater Jihad): Sawm is intended to teach believers patience and self-control in their personal conduct, to help control passions and temper, to provide time for meditation and to strengthen one's faith. Fasting also serves the purpose of cleansing the inner soul and freeing it of harm. Some scholars, following the earliest understanding of the uses and objectives of the ritual of fasting strongly object to identifying mundane objectives of the ritual such as physical and psychological well being. To them the ritual of fasting is purely a worship and should not be treated as an exercise mixed with worship. The objectives of the fast is to inculcate taqwa (God-consciousness) in a believer. Objective of the Fast
Detriments of fasting
Days For Fasting
Month of Ramadhan
Days For Voluntary Fasting
Islam also prescribed certain days for non-obligatory, voluntary fasting, such as:
- each Monday and Thursday of a week
- the 13th, 14th, and 15th day of each lunar month
- six days in the month of Shawwal (the month following Ramadan)
- the Day of Arafat (9th of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar)
- the Day of Ashura (10th of Muharram in the Hijri calendar), with one more day of fasting before or after it (For Sunni Muslims only. It is Abominate in Shia Islam)
- As often as possible in the months of Rajab and Shaban before Ramadhan
- First ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar
Days when fasting is forbidden
Template:Expand-section Although fasting is considered a pious act in Islam, there are times when fasting is prohibited:
- Eid ul-Adha And 3 days following it because Mohammed said "You are not to fast these days. They are days of eating and drinking and remembering Allah", reported by Abu Hurairah.
- Eid ul-Fitr
- For Shia Muslims, the Day of Ashura, 10th of Muharram in the Hijri calendar.
- It is also forbidden to single out Fridays and only fast every Friday, as Amr al-Ashari said that he heard Muhammad say "Verily, Friday is a eid (holiday) for you, so do not fast on it unless you fast the day before or after it."
- Fasting everyday of the year is also forbidden; the Messenger of Allah said "There is no reward for fasting for the one who perpetually fasts."
Fasting in other religions
Main article: fasting Lent in Christianity, Yom Kippur, Tisha B'av, Fast of Esther, Tzom Gedalia the Seventeenth of Tamuz, and the Tenth of Tevet, all in Judaism, are also times of fasting. Nevertheless, the fasting practices are different from one another. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) generally fast for 24 hours on the first Sunday of each month. Like Muslims, they refrain from all drinking and eating unless they are children or are physically unable to fast. Fasting is also a feature of ascetic traditions in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Mahayana traditions that follow the Brahma's Net Sutra may recommend that the laity fast "during the six days of fasting each month and the three months of fasting each year" [Brahma's Net Sutra, minor precept 30]. Members of the Baha'i Faith observe a Nineteen Day Fast from sunrise to sunset during March each year.
- Scholarly Articles on the Law of Fasting in Islam
- Fasting in the Quraan
- Comprehensive Article and Book Collection on fasting and Ramadhan
- Esoteric view on sawm - fasting in Ramadan
- Islamic holidays and observances
- Time of start and end of sawn per city
- Health in Ramadan
- How Fasting Helps with Self-Control
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