The term fasting is defined as the “willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast or dry fasting is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually 24 hours or a number of days. Water fasting refers to abstinence from all food and drink except water, but black tea may be consumed.” In this definition, Ramadan would fall under an absolute fast or a “dry” fast from dawn until dusk. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan occurs during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is known as “swam” or fasting. The observance of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are the five basics principles of Islam. Therefore, observing Ramadan is an essential act of being a Muslim and living out the faith. The month usually lasts between twenty-nine and thirty days. Fasting is more than just refraining from eating and drinking for Muslims, it is a holy time of year to reconnect, or connect on a deeper level with God.
Fasting is a practice in many other religions including Christianity, Judaism, the Bah’ai’ faith, and others. In Catholicism, fasting occurs on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday which marks the beginning and end of Lent, the holiest time of year for Christians worldwide. In Judaism fasting occurs during Yom Kippur, which is The Day of Atonement. Fasting for these religions brings believers closer to God, by having people focus on prayer and God over material things likes food. For example, the hunger that a person will feel from fasting in Catholicism on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is supposed to remind Catholics of the millions throughout the world who are without food everyday. It is also a way for Catholics to centre their prayer life and focus on God as well as in part on those who are suffering. For Muslims, fasting is a way for many to remember that everything is a gift from God who alone is the one who sustains us. Fasting is never to be done out of spite or with drudgery, but instead is an act of faith, an act which brings them closer to God.
Fasting is a way in which certain religions use hunger as a way to connect on a deeper level with their faith, and ending a fast is also an important time for the faithful. For Muslims, Ramadan ends with the feast of Eid. The feast of Eid marks the end of this holy month, and is a celebration with friends and family. Today in Scotland, Muslim groups invite others to break the fast with them and to celebrate Eid.