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Fasting In Islam
Fasting is a special moral and spiritual characteristic of the Islam and defined as abstaining fully from foods, drinks, intercourse, and smoking before the break of dawn until sunset throughout the month of Ramadan (El-Ashi, 2012). However, taking the literal meaning of fasting in Islam is inappropriate since those who observe it does not have a true realization of its meaning and get very little from the practice. Others do not benefit at all that makes many Muslims today fail to enjoy the actual privileges of fasting. According to Lincoln (2006), the definition of religion is not standardized due to various explanations are given based on an individual understanding of the same.
According to Bruce Lincoln (2006), Religion is a polythetic entity having at least four domains; religion discourse, practice, community, and institutions. Regarding Religious Discourse, the ancient type was poetry for technological and ideological purposes that gave way to writing and creation of sacred books in the post-ancient world. As a practice, the ancient type had an emphasis on statues and sacrifices, and the post-ancient type emphasized on external practices that yielded to internal practices. Regarding religious communities, religion was a shared concern for the groups existing at different levels of integration. Post-ancient communities had a basis on religious considerations and were considered as a transition from locative to utopian. Religious institutions were under the state in the ancient times and later became autonomous in the post-ancient time (Antoun, 2008).
Fasting in Islam falls under the elements of sacrifice and embodiment as can be an inference from the discussion of religion by Lincoln following the four domains of discourse, practice, community, and institution. Fasting in Islam is a sacrifice because all those who participate are required to refrain from doing anything that they value such as foods, drinks, selfish desires, and wrongdoing. As such, as Lincoln explains that discourse becomes religious, not by its contents only, but also from its claim to authority and truth. Fasting in Islam cannot be widely accepted as part of their religion if it only existed in writing. Hence they have to be involved in propagating what they were instructed to do by the Prophet.
Fasting in Islam is a practice as Lincoln explains that religion is defined as a set of practices with a goal of producing a proper world and human subjects (Lincoln, 6, 2006). Religious practices tend to be ritual and ethical, that makes their discourse operational and move from speech to embodied material action. None of the practices are inherently religious, but acquire religious character when associated with a religious discourse that makes them as such. Thus, fasting in Islam can be explained as a practice that deals with the element of an embodiment which is a representation or expression of something in a visible form.
Muslims believe that, whenever they observe the month of Ramadan through fasting, they get closer to God and He becomes a reality to their lives. They consider the value of fasting purely as to follow Divine commandment and with the feeling that He sees their actions in secret. The practices enhance the consciousness of God in their hearts and have a spiritual experience with him (A'la Mawdudi, 2013). It is an expression that they can give up what they rightfully consider as theirs to someone else, who they believe is Supreme. During fasting in Islam, generosity and charity acts are common that teaches them to sympathize with the suffering of others and make them remember the blessings in life normally taken for granted. The participation in fasting as a physical expression of Islam beliefs in the Prophet portrays of the unity of purpose that should not be neglected. Islam practice fasting as instructed by the Holy Quran where it states in 2:183, “…fasting is prescribed for you as prescribed for those before you.”
Lincoln B. “Holy Terrors: Second Edition: Thinking about Religion after September 11,” Chap. 1; the study of religion in the current political moment, (2006) 1-10
Lincoln B. “Method and Theory in the Study of Religion,” Vol. 8 (1996): 225-227.
El-Ashi, A. “Fasting in Islam.” Islamic Society of Routgers University, (2012)
Antoun, R. T. Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Movements, Rowman & Littlefield (2008).
A'la Mawdudi, S. A. Towards Understanding Islam, Kube Publishing Ltd (2013)
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