FASTING – it’s in EVERY religion but is done in MANY different ways


Being Ramadan it’s always good to look at fasting and how it isn’t just Muslims who use fasting as a part of their religion.

The origin of why fasting began is unclear. Some believe it was so that the person could prepare their stomach for the sacrificial meal, others believe it was purely for health purposes and others believe it was a communal principle that came about when food was scarce so that all could share and help the needy.

But every religion is more specific these days of why and how they fast. So let’s look and compare what they mean and how they are done.

How they fast Why they fast
Islam From dawn until dusk, no food or water during this time, and for 30 days. To remember those who have not, to give to others who have not and to get closer to Allah.
Christianity Usually to cut out those things that are tempting, e.g. food, sex, alcohol etc for a period of either 1-40 days depending on you.. To get closer to God.
Hinduism To cut out food for a half day, full day or more. To be beneficial to a certain deity who represents a certain human condition.
Judaism To cut out food to commemorate certain events, however usually not adhered to if the area is not in a state of turmoil. Can be 1-25 days depending on the person’s adherence to the strict rules in their area. When you area is in a state of turmoil it is a custom for those who have food to abstain from it in order to let others have access to it who may be suffering more from the conflict around them.
Buddhism To abstain from food for a period of time, usually combined with deep meditation. Buddhists can fast for half a day up to 72 days in some traditions in Buddhism. A way to practice self-discipline to develop self-control in terms of moral and psychological insight.

Some people purely use fasting as a method of keeping good health and do not do it for any kind of spiritual reason.

So what about you? Do you fast? If so how do you do it and why?


5 thoughts on “FASTING – it’s in EVERY religion but is done in MANY different ways

  1. yes I do fast,purely as religious obligation and to get closer to Allah and what spiritual and physical or social benefits are attached to it are secondary things for me.

  2. What you have described for Christianity sounds Catholic. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, one abstains from meat, dairy, fish, and alcohol. This takes place during the 40 days before Easter, the 40 days before Christmas, and most Wednesdays and Fridays. (Among Roman Catholics, this practice remains as abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent.) One of the reasons for this fast is that one would set aside money for the poor that one would normally spend on meat and other more expensive food items.

    Also, would you consider Kosher or Halal food practices a sort of fasting? What about the Muslim proscription against alcohol, or the Hindu proscription against meat for certain castes?

    • Thanks for that information about the Eastern Orthodox Church…as I can see we all have different reasons but in some cases there are common threads like you mention of ‘saving for the poor’. In Islam it is supposed to be a time also when you give to the poor.
      In terms of kosher or halal food, I don’t think that comes within the confines of fasting, as fasting is considered ‘doing without for a period of time for a purpose’, whereas in Islam not eating pork or drinking alcohol is really considered something you should never do, so it’s not really fasting as such.

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