The Five Pillars of Islam are the corner stones, the core beliefs of the Islamic faith. Each pillar is designed to help Muslims model their life towards Allah's wishes and live their life to the fullest.
Muslims are encouraged to enjoy the good things in life (including food, drink and sexual relations) since all good things come from Allah (God). Yet for all willing and able Muslims, one month of the Islamic calendar year is set aside for fasting. This month is called Ramadan and the 'Festival of Ramadan' or 'Saum' is the 4th Pillar of Islam.
Saum was first established in 624 CE. Before this date, no fasting of Ramadan has been recorded except for the Jewish-inspired ashura which is 1 day of intense fasting to seek redemption (ashura only started being practiced 2 years before Saum was introduced).
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar.
It begins with the sighting of the new moon. This month is part of the Lunar Calendar, therefore it comes 11 days earlier every year which allows fasting in various seasons and weather throughout ones life time. This month of fasting and prayer is well known to Non-Islam followers and is often the only aspect of the religion many non-believers know.
'O ye who Believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint' Quran 2:183.
This passage explains one aspect of why Saum is necessary: self-restraint. By fasting, Muslims cut oneself off from worldly comforts and by doing so gain true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life.
Ramadan also celebrates the time when Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran from the angel Gabriel. This happened on the 27th of...