This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Pillar Four—Sawm, or fasting during Ramadan

Ramadan is the most significant month on the Islamic ‘liturgical calendar’. It is Islam’s holy month. It is said that during this month Muhammad experience the Night of Power, the initial revelation; much later, but during this same month, the Hijrah (migration) from Mecca to Yathrib (Medina) took place. In observance of this sacred time, any Muslim not ill or involved in some crisis must fast. The fast extends from dawn until sunset, during which time no food or drink is taken. This Islamic calendar is lunar and this means that Ramadan shifts eleven days each year.

We will add here that the Koran distinguishes between ritual or prescribed fasting, fasting as form of repentance, and ascetic fasting or fasting as a spiritual discipline. It is only the ritual fast of Ramadan that is obligatory, but again, this obligation does not extend to: young children, the ill or elderly, pregnant or breastfeeding women, etc.

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