THE ONLY WAY ISLAMIC FASTING DIFFERS FROM THOSE OF OTHER FAITHS IS THAT THE DURATION IS LONGER, 29 OR 30 DAYS
The concept of fasting is common to all religions in one form or the other. The only way Islamic fasting differs from those of other faiths is that the duration is longer, 29 or 30 days (depending on the sighting of the moon).
Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from not only eatables but also from all kinds of evils.
Saomor ( fasting) happens to be one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four being Tauhid (belief in one God), Salat (praying five times a day), Zakat (charity) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Ramzan means exercising restraint on one's food and drink out of one's own free will; but more importantly, it is complete abstention from anything that is negative and that a true Muslim must lead the whole of his life as he does during the month of Ramzan.
Fasting teaches one the principle of sincere love as it is practised out of deep love for God.
It equips one with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life. The person who observes his fast properly is certainly a man who can discipline his passionate desires and place his self above the mundane physical temptations.
The spiritual significance of Ramzan is the night of Qadr (night of most virtues) as per Kitab-alSiyamchapter of Haythami's Majma'al Zawa'id. It happens to be the night of 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, or 29th of the Ramzan month. It could be any of these nights and the best way is to be awake on all these nights for prayers.
It was in the month of Ramzan that the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed who in turn laid down certain general recommendations for practising fasting.
Muslims during this month also observe the special night prayer known as Tarawih in which Quran is recited. Besides, recitation and the study of the Quran is intensified at home both by men and women.
And Iftar happens to be most cherished time during Ramzan for it is an occasion of reunion and reconciliation.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed