Sawm (Fasting)

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Sawm (صوم‎) is the Arabic word which refers to Islamic fasting. The observance of sawm during the Islamic month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and therefore a compulsory (fard) duty.

The salient features of Islamic fasting are:

  • For 30 days every lunar year (during the month of Ramadan), waking up before dawn and eating and drinking to prepare for the fast
  • Refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in sexual intercourse from dawn (fajr) to sunset (maghrib).
  • Breaking the fast at sunset and again eating and drinking to prepare for the day ahead.

The adverse effects of Islamic fasting are vast and encompass such issues as; health, national economy and productivity, crime rates, public safety and social behavior. In practice, Islamic fasting is unlike medical fasting or fasting as found in other religious traditions. It is more accurately described as delayed eating; Muslims simply turn their eating habits upside down and gorge at dusk and at dawn.

Binge eating is a common habit during Ramadan.[1] For example, in Egypt, national statistics point to a substantial increase in consumption of food, electricity, and medications related to digestive disorders during the month of Ramadan as compared with the monthly average in the rest of the year.[2] Similarly in Doha, Qatar, almost 8,000 cases of indigestion were recorded at the Hamad Medical Hospital emergency room solely in the first week of Ramadan 2011, due to "most of the population sleeping during the day" and eating "large feasts".[3]

Once the month of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims then observe Eid ul-Fitr ("Festival of Fast-Breaking"), a day to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Eid celebrations include the unprecedented large-scale slaughter of hundreds of thousands,[4] possibly millions, of animals. In the Netherlands alone, which has little over a million Muslims, a 100,000 animals were slaughtered in 2010 for Eid al-Adha ("Festival of Sacrifice").[5]

See Also

  • Fasting - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Fasting
  • Animals - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Animals

External Links


  1. Dietitian Advises Selective Eating Habits During Ramadan - Khaleej Times Online, September 7, 2008
  2. Abdel-Moneim Said - Wasting Ramadan - Al-Ahram Weekly, September 3, 2009
  3. Qatar: surge in diabetes/obesity, unhealthy Arab habits - ANSAmed, March 13, 2012
  4. Muslims to Sacrifice 710,000 animals - NNN-APP, December 26, 2006
  5. Netherland Muslims slaughtered 100,000 animals for Eid ul-Adha - Ahlul Bayt News, November 21, 2010