Islam: practices – Five Pillars ~ SAWM

Sawm – Fasting during Ramadan


Oh believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was for those before you so that you may learn self restraint’ (Qur’an 2)

‘Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guide to humanity. Everyone who is present during that month should spend it fasting’ (Qur’an 2)


Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It was during this month that the Night of Power took place. During the month of Ramadan, those Muslims who fast do not consume any food or drink, smoke or have sexual relations during daylight hours. A Muslim will try to spend a significant amount of time in the Mosque and read the whole of the Qur’an. Time should not be wasted on thoughtless tasks. Fasting is difficult but days should be lived as normal. Fasting is not an excuse to avoid doing something.

Fasting is about developing self-control and overcoming cravings and temptations. Fasting for a month is a way of retraining minds and bodies and focusing on religion above all else. Sawn is viewed as putting people on the right path again. Fasting during Ramadan is also believed to shield against the fires of hell.


Who does not fast and why?

  • The young (under 12) and the elderly do not fast as they need regular food and drink
  • The ill do not fast as they need medication and food/drink eg diabetics
  • Pregnant women as they need food and drink for themselves and the growing baby
  • Women on their periods
  • Travellers

Missed days due to menstruation and travelling can be made up at a later date.


How does fasting influence the life of a Muslim? What benefits are there?
  • Fasting brings a Muslim closer to Allah and other Muslims. All Muslims who fast are experiencing the same difficulties so it draws them closer together as the Ummah (Brotherhood)
  • It allows Muslims to put religious discipline at the heart of their lives again. It puts them back on the right path in a busy world where religion can often be forgotten. It helps to develop self control and discipline
  • It is the month of forgiveness. Muhammad said that the sins of those who fast will be forgiven. This is important to secure a place in paradise
  • It helps Muslims develop a sense of empathy with the poor who face hunger on a daily basis. They know what is it like to feel hunger and thirst each day.

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