Becoming a Practicing Muslim: The Five Pillars of Islam [IV]
Becoming a Practicing Muslim: The Five Pillars of Islam
24 Mar 2018
Fourth: Fasting (Sawm)
Fasting or sawm is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. When practicing sawm, Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise (fajr) to sunset (maghrib). Sawm, to Muslims, is a way to strengthen one’s faith, patience, endurance and help Muslims feel closer and more compassionate with those who are less fortunate.
Muslims are required to fast throughout the month of Ramadan every year, however, there are exceptions; Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, or nursing are, either, permitted or required, to break their fast. According to the rules of Islamic jurisprudence, this non-fasting days must be made up either, by fasting an equivalent amount of days in other months, or by paying a fidyah (a recompense). Fidyah is essentially providing a satisfying meal to an impoverished person. In general, paying a fidyah is only permitted if a person is unable to make up for non-fasting days by fasting.
Sawm is obligatory, only, for whoever fulfills the following conditions.
1. He or She is a Muslim.
2. He or She is past the age of puberty.
3. He or She is able to fast.
4. He or She is settled (not traveling).
Finally, sawm is not confined to the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims are also encouraged to fast all year long, except during Eid al Adha and Eid el Fitr. On the other hand, fasting every single day of the year is discouraged; as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "He, who perpetually fasts, has not fasted."
In the end, Allah has been merciful in this regard; for although Muslims are required to fast, those who cannot fast are given other options that would actually also benefit those who really need help. This ensures that Muslims always stand by each other.
If you haven't read the previous part, you can read The Third Pillar In Islam.
Interested to know more, read The Fifth Pillar In Islam.
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