What is Ramadan, and why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

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Please no shi*posting, I genuinely want to know.

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It’s a commemoration of the date when the first lines of Quran were revealed to Muhammad. Muslims fast during Ramadan because Quran says so. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam which (kind of) make one a good Muslim, the other four being the Profession of faith (“There is no god but Allah…”), praying five times a day, giving alms and pilgrimage.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. The annual observance of Ramadan is a commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation, and is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.

It’s also an expression of faith and a direct commitment to your faith with god. At the end of the day, you can be seen to be doing the other aspects but nobody can prove you have fasted apart from you.

It also makes you humble and appreciate even the simple things around you. Some people don’t have access to food like we do.

There is also a medical benefit too to fasting, which is becoming more common in the west.

Full disclosure, I’m not a Muslim, so corrections and comments are welcome.

It’s the holy month of the Muslim calendar and is the anniversary of the Quran’s revelation to Muhammad. He was fasting and meditating in a cave at the time, so during the month Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to try and get in a similarly spiritual frame of mind. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five main tenets of Islam, so that’s why they have to do it. Assuming they’re healthy enough of course. Pregnant women, little kids, and the elderly don’t have to.

The holiday follows the lunar calendar the Arabs used at the time which is slightly shorter than our current solar calendar (12 lunar months are 354 days), so it slips about a week and a half earlier each year.

Just to add to this, an anecdote that might make some Muslim Redditors smile:

Ramadan is (affectionatly, I assure you) referred to as “Lent, but for Overachievers.” By both my brother and mother who have many Muslim Coworkers. Our family is Catholic, so obvious parallels were spotted to a period of prayer, fasting and reflection. I imagine the custom developed for similar theological reasons.

As with Lent, you’re not supposed to push yourself to the point of injury, but from the stories my mother has told me about coworkers fainting during long period of fasting between dawn and dusk (which, thinking about it, probably weren’t envisioned for a global population where the length of days can vary drastically) this isn’t always stuck to.

Because the dogma of the religion says they have to, assuming they are in good health and otherwise physically capable.

Thanks for your question.

Ramadan is simply a month in the Islamic calendar, which follows the lunar cycle.

A lot of Muslims might initially respond to this question by saying something along the lines of “So that you can learn what it’s like to be hungry and therefore be more likely and willing to help feed the poor”. While this is partly a reason for fasting, it’s not the main one.

The reason for why fasting is prescribed for Muslims can be found in verses 183 to 185 of the second chapter of the Quran: https://quran.com/2/183-185?reading=false

With the main reason being from the 183rd verse which states:

>O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous

The last word here is translated to “righteous”. But this word doesn’t help convey what the actual Arabic meaning is. The meaning of the word is explained in a conversation between two companions of the Prophet (pbuh), Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Ubay Ibn Ka’ab, where Umar asked Ubay what “Taqwa” is.

He replied,

>“Have you ever taken a thorny path?” Umar replied, “Yes I have.” Ubay then asked, “So how did you travel along this thorny path?” Umar replied, “I rolled up my garment and was cautious as to where I would tread to avoid being pricked by the thorns.” So Ubay responded and said, “This is Taqwa.”

The explanation of the above is that Taqwa is when a person is mindful and aware that they need to be careful to avoid sinning.

In another narration of the Prophet (pbuh),

>”Fasting is a shield, so the one who fasts should avoid obscene speech and ignorant behavior. If someone abuses him or starts to fight with him, he should reply by saying: ‘I am fasting. I am fasting’.”

So we can now explain that the reason for fasting is to help develop a person’s “Taqwa”.

As for why it is prescribed in the month of Ramadan only, the reason for that is because Ramadan is the most sacred month in Islam. The Quran was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) on the 27th night of Ramadan.

I wanted to avoid the stereotypical answer of “because God tells them to” in this reply. It is true that being commanded by God is a valid reason for a Muslim to do something, I wanted highlight the actual reasoning that is given by God himself for why fasting during Ramadan is mandatory for all healthy Muslims.

its SUPPOSSED to be completely voluntary but you can bet you’ll go to jail for drinking water at high noon in countries where they are the majority

I observed that Ramadan was a time when the people around me who claimed to be observers would have huge breakfasts before dawn and even bigger feasts after sunset, and with many of the men chuffed that they had somehow tricked the God that they claim to obey.

Watching them, I saw the same habits as the self claiming Christians around me.

They all know that there is no god, but they don’t want to lose the little bit of community around them.

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