Monday 3 April 2023

What is Sawm or fasting?

Sawm, or fasting, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is observed by Muslims as a significant act of worship and self-discipline. It involves abstaining from food, drink, and certain behaviors from dawn until sunset during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Sawm is a form of spiritual purification and a means of drawing closer to Allah.

Here are key aspects of Sawm in Islam:

  1. Obligation: Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are physically and mentally capable of observing the fast. There are exemptions for individuals who are ill, pregnant, nursing, traveling, menstruating, or experiencing other specific circumstances that may hinder their ability to fast. They may make up the missed fasts at a later time or provide a fidya (compensation).

  2. Intention and Suhoor: Sawm begins with the intention to fast, which is made in the heart or expressed verbally before dawn. Before starting the fast, Muslims often have a pre-dawn meal called Suhoor, which provides sustenance for the day.

  3. Abstinence: During the fasting hours, Muslims abstain from consuming food, drink, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. They also refrain from engaging in negative behavior, such as lying, gossiping, and backbiting. Fasting extends beyond the physical act of abstaining from food and drink to include controlling one's thoughts, actions, and speech.

  4. Spiritual Reflection and Worship: Fasting in Ramadan is not solely about physical abstinence but also about spiritual reflection, increased devotion, and worship. Muslims engage in additional acts of worship, such as reciting the Quran, performing extra prayers (Taraweeh), supplicating, and seeking forgiveness.

  5. Breaking the Fast: At sunset, Muslims break their fast with a meal called Iftar. Traditionally, dates and water are consumed to break the fast, followed by a more substantial meal. Sharing meals and offering hospitality to others is highly encouraged during Ramadan.

  6. Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr): The month of Ramadan holds a special night known as Laylat al-Qadr, which is considered to be a night of immense blessings and spiritual significance. Muslims engage in intensified worship and seek the blessings of this night, which is believed to be better than a thousand months.

  7. Eid al-Fitr: The month of fasting concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a joyous festival that marks the end of Ramadan. Muslims gather for communal prayers, engage in acts of charity, visit family and friends, and share festive meals. It is also a time to express gratitude to Allah for the strength and blessings to complete the month of fasting.

Sawm in Ramadan is a time of self-reflection, self-control, gratitude, and increased devotion for Muslims. It serves as a reminder of the importance of spirituality, empathy for the less fortunate, and developing self-discipline in all aspects of life. It is believed to purify the soul, strengthen one's faith, and foster a sense of unity among Muslims worldwide.



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