Which Religions Fast And Why (#Ramadan)
Who else is fasting and why? As Muslims near the end of another 30-day fasting season, let's have a look at other world religions...
Who else is fasting and why?
As Muslims near the end of another 30-day fasting season, let's have a look at other world religions for whom fasting is an integral part of their religious heritage. Book a trip to Turkey to see how the Muslims celebrate Ramadan!
Fasting means different things - actions and behaviors - for the world religions, but generally, it means the act of abstaining from food, drink, smoking, profane languages, sexual intercourse, and some religions even include donating money and food to the charity. Fasting can be done individually on a personal level, or involves a large group of people and becomes a festival to celebrate their religious history.
Here is the list of 4 religions that support fasting and the reasons as to why they fast.
MUSLIMS: Islam perhaps the religion that takes fasting the most seriously with Ramadan as the biggest festival for fasting and praying activities.
The most important reason to fast for Muslims is to cleanse their bodies to present themselves to God, seek for His pleasure and forgiveness for all their sins. Muslims argue that food, drink and other humanly desires get in the way of one's devotion towards God, and preventing him to get closer to his Creator.
Therefore, by getting rid of them, one can dedicate himself wholly and completely to his God. Moreover, through fasting, people can also learn and develop many valuable characteristics such as patience, punctuality, self-control, and their capability to cope with difficult conditions so that they can become better people and better deserve the love of God.
HINDUS: Hinduism/Brahma is also very big on fasting with various fasting festivals all year round. In Hindu, the rules for fasting are a little flexible and can be done on an individual level.
Fasting in Hinduism indicates a person's willpower to sacrifice the body's needs to foster his spiritual growth by improving his concentration on meditation or worship. Hinduism also believes that many diseases and damages to one's body come from harmful substances in the digestive system. Hence, by fasting, one can purify himself, put his body to rest, and become healthier.
BUDDHISM: For Buddhists, fasting signifies the purification of the body, and the removals of earthy desires of people before they can embark on a spiritual journey to enter the Samadhi concentration. For monks and serious practitioners, fasting means absolute restraint from eating so that they can concentrate on their meditation and free their minds from coarse thoughts and greedy concerns.
For general practitioners, they can choose to fast during some certain days of the month, especially on the full moon and new moon days, and stay away from meat and other animal-originated products. This is to show their determination to stay away from selfish desires, save the planet and all living creatures, and control their own greed.
Fasting is also a tribute to remind Mormons of how much luckier they are compared to people who have to struggle for food and other necessities in life. In a time of hardship such as facing with illness and career challenges, individuals or a family can hold a specially fasting events to pray to God, and seek for His answers.
+ Pictured: Salt Lake Temple
Regardless of their purposes, some fasting festivals are not only important religious events, but also interesting cultural attractions. In a country like Turkey where more than 99% of the population are registered as Muslims, Ramadan is a big event to draw thousands of local and foreign people's attention. If tourists from other countries would like to see how Turkish Muslims celebrate their festival, they should obtain Turkey visas, book the tickets and plan their trip now!