Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

WEST CHESTER, PA. (Mar. 27, 2023) — Fasting in religion is often a symbol of afflicting one’s soul as a form of punishment for evil deeds that a person has done. This occurs during Yom Kippur in Judaism and Lent in Christianity.  

In Islam, fasting occurs during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which began last Wednesday, Mar. 22. 

Like Judaism, which relies on the lunar calendar, every month commences during a new moon. 

The concept of Ramadan can be traced back to the second chapter of the Quran, the Al-Baqarah, in which God states: “The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as a guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and discrimination.” As a result, every person must fast for about a month during the daytime, except for those ill (2:185-186). Even so, medications are prohibited from being consumed either. 

Aside from fasting, Ramadan also prohibits sex and smoking. According to authors Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair in their book “Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power,” “Abstinence during Ramadan brings Muslims to greater awareness of God’s presence and helps them acknowledge their gratitude for God’s provisions in their lives.” 

To Dr. Mahmoud Amer, a professor and the Chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures at West Chester University, there is so much more to Ramadan that makes it unique. “The traditions and the rituals, and a strong sense of community [are what make Ramadan special],” Amer said.  

In the Quran, the prophet Muhammed initially chose the tenth day of the first month, Muharram in Islam, for people to celebrate Ramadan. This idea resembles and occurs on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, which also involves fasting. 

While Ramadan eventually became the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the tenth day of Muharram would later give rise to another fasting holiday called Ashura. 

In addition, Islamic followers believe in what is known as the Five Pillars: 

  • “The creed (Shahada)” 
  • “Prayer (Salat)” 
  • “Alms-giving,” or donating to charity (Zakat) 
  • “Fasting (Sawm)” 
  • “Pilgrimage (Hajj).” 

Ramadan fits with the fourth pillar, “Fasting (Sawm),” as it involves constantly fasting during the daytime and throughout the entire month. 

While intermittent fasting is safe to control one’s health, studies performed on Muslims during Ramadan regarding fasting have proven that it can impact people’s health negatively, including cardiac diseases and “peptic ulcer perforations,” so caution must be considered when preparing. 

“It is not easy to give up eating or drinking from sunup to sundown,” Amer said. “And you have to do all of that while you are being the best version of yourself.” 

By the month’s end, however, Muslims proudly celebrate the completion of Ramadan with a holiday called Eid al-Fitr, literally meaning the “Holiday of Breaking the Fast” in Arabic, which occurs on Apr. 21 and 22 this year. 

While it is not referenced in the Quran, God does bring up the idea that “Allah desires ease for you, and He desires not hardship for you, and He desires that you may complete the number, and that you may exalt Allah for His having guided you and that you may be grateful,” giving credence to Eid al-Fitr (2:186). 

This will be a challenging Ramadan for all who celebrate, but it will be worth it once they reach Eid al-Fitr. 

Benjamin Slomowitz is a fourth-year media and culture student. 


  • “10th-Of-Muharram.” University of Michigan, July 2022. 
  • Betesh-Abay, Batya, et al. “The Association between Acute Myocardial Infarction-Related Outcomes and the Ramadan Period: A Retrospective Population-Based Study.” Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 11, no. 17, 2022, p. 5145., 
  • Bloom, Jonathan M., and Sheila S. Blair. Islam, a Thousand Years of Faith and Power. Yale University Press, 2002.  
  • Endress, Gerhard. Islam: An Historical Introduction. 2nd ed., Columbia University Press, 2002.  
  • Farīd, Malik Ghulām. The Holy Qur’ëan: Arabic Text with English Translation and Short Commentary. Islam International Publications Ltd., 1988. 
  • Owens, Geoffrey, editor. The Muslim World. Vol. 75, The H.W. Wilson Co., 2003. 
  • Siddique, Attiya Nasir, et al. “Association of Peptic Ulcer Perforation with Ramadan Related Lifestyle Modifications.” The Professional Medical Journal, vol. 30, no. 02, 2023, pp. 188–192., 


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