Saturday, August 22, 2009

month of fasting

Ramadan (also pronounced as Ramzan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the blessed month in which the Quranic revelation started. This month is the hallmark of special blessing and a quintessential month of fasting (sawm). The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. This year 2008 the start of Ramadan is expected to begin on 1st of September.

During this month it's recommended in Quranic principle to fast from all food and drink from sunrise till sunset for the whole lunar month uninterrupted. It is not just an Islamic practice but a universal spiritual practice that was recommended to all other communities in the past including the earlier Prophets and Apostles. The Final Testament testifies: "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint."
- The Quran 2:183

Fasting is very much a spiritual reality in the Judeo-Christian tradition such as fasting of Yom Kippur and Lent. So is it present in Eastern tradition including Hinduism and other traditions. Gautama Buddha went through deep ascetic fasting before his enlightenment.

Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights while he was on the mountain with Divine Presence (Exodus 34:28). We read in the New Testament in the life of Jesus Christ how fasting was part of his inner practice as well: 'Jesus went into deep retreat and seclusion in the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and forty nights. And the tempter came and whispered to him: 'if you are elect one of God, command these stones to become bread.' But Jesus answered: 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone...' (Matthew, Luke 4:1-4)

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