Ramzan is the holy month when Muslims undergo a rigorous fast (not even a drop of water or spittle passes their throats). Muslims around the world take a journey within — to discover their inner strengths and strive zealously to subjugate their evil instincts. It is abstinence in its literal, metaphorical and
allegorical sense. From dawn to dusk each day this month, Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke, use perfume or apply leeches and abstain from conjugal relations. It is the month of Ramzan, the ninth and holiest month of the Muslim lunar year, a month of sacrifice and humility during which conscientious observance of every divine commandment marks a high water mark in the life of every Muslim.
Fasting or sawm is one of the vital pillars of Islam. Sawm is derived from the root sama which means “to abstain”. Although sawm is most commonly understood as the fasting, it is more broadly interpreted as the obligation to refrain between dawn and dusk from food, drink, sexual activity, and all forms of immoral behaviour, including impure or unkind thoughts. As Lent may be prescribed for Christians and Yom Kippur for those of the Jewish faith, Ramzan is an eagerly awaited interval for Muslims to concentrate on prayer, meditation and worship.
The most significant aspect of the fast is the development of God-consciousness (taqva).
Prophet Muhammad emphasised: “He who does not abandon falsehood in word and action in accordance with fasting, God has no need that he should abandon his food and drink.” Islam has a beautiful word to describe this war against man’s carnal instincts. It is called jihad. In fact, Islam repeatedly emphasises it and calls it the “greater jihad”. The “greater struggle” is the personal one: the struggle to resist temptation, combat one’s own evil traits and imperfections, and become a better person in God’s sight. The King James Bible speaks of it as seeking “The Kingdom of God” and the Hindu spiritual classic Bhagavad Gita represents it in the battle of Kuruksetra.