Fasting a pillar of Islam that teaches compassion
Compiled by Yakoob Alladin
The holy month of Ramadan begins this week, and will be observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world. Fasting in Islamic countries dates back to ancient times, to the second year of the Hijir (the migration from Medina to Mecca).
Fasting was made obligatory for every Muslim man and woman during the month of Ramadan, as commanded by Allah.
Adherents aim to avoid all bad behaviour, instead they submit themselves to Allah and avoid committing sin.
According to the Koran (2:183):
'O ye who believe
Fasting is prescribed to you
As it was prescribed to those before you
That ye may (learn)
The holy prophet Mohammed said Islam was based on three foundations, namely:
Testifying that there is no God but Allah.
Performing obligatory prayers.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Any Muslim who does not observe the tenets or deliberately neglects them is regarded as a traitor.
Praising Allah and reciting Kalima (prayers) strengthens Muslim's faith and their belief in the truth of His revelations.
Prayer is considered a kind of firm belief.
Fasting calls for abstinence from human desires such as food, drink and lust, and follies such as using foul language, lying and slandering others.
Curbing one's desires and emotional excesses in order to conform to the regulations of the fast requires tremendous self-discipline.
Unlike prayer - where one can be seen to be fulfilling the requirements - whether one really observes the fast in its true sense is only known to oneself and to the Almighty.
Fasting can teach us to be disciplined, patient and compassionate towards the less fortunate by experiencing hunger at first hand.
Through the experience, adherents learn how to be a good Muslim.
The rewards are therefore great.
The holy prophet Mohammed described fasting as one of the three pillars of Islam.