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Which Religions Require Fasting and When?

Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset for the entire holy month of Ramadan.
Muslims are expected to fast during parts of the Hajj, which is a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the Ramadan fast.
Traditional Judaism requires believers to fast on Yom Kippur and several additional days each year.
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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Many religions require fasting as an act of penance, obligation, or faith. The act of abstaining from food or drink is usually practiced in different religions for a set period of time. It is exercised as a sign of sacrifice to a god, and many religions worldwide have prescribed days and times for fasting. Some periods are continuous for a number of days, and some allow eating and drinking after sunset. Some are strictly prohibiting, and some allow certain foods. Fasting is, in almost all cases, an important act of the devout, and is practiced in Islam, Catholicism, and Buddhism, among many other religions.

Fasting is an essential part of the Hindu religion, and is varied in different localities. The rules of Hinduism are flexible, allowing varying lengths of abstinence at various times. Different devotees fast on different days according to a number of deities, and many festivals can be fasted on, though they do not have to be. Judaism, on the other hand, is strict in its rules, and requires completely abstaining from food, drink, and water for up to six days a year, including Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av. In Judaism, it is a form of atonement.

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Islam, like Judaism, enforces strict rules upon the devout. Followers of the Muslim faith are obliged to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, every day from dawn to sunset. There are also many non-obligatory days throughout the Islamic calendar, where Muslims are prohibited from food, drink, smoking, and sexual interactions. Fasting is one of the most important actions of the Islamic faith and is known as one of the Pillars of Islam. Also observing obligatory fasts from sunrise to sunset, the Baha’i Faith of Western and Central Asia establishes the practice as a period of meditation and prayer.

Though it is not required in most Christian denominations, fasting is practiced by many Christians as an external observance. It can be found in the Bible with Moses, King David, and Jesus, and is seen with the reduction of meals and the abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent in Roman Catholicism. In Anglicanism, it is practiced on many saints' feast days, while Eastern Orthodoxy has four different fasting seasons, including two different stretches of 40 days.

Fasting is also an important tenet of the Buddhist faith, practiced by monks and nuns, but not by lay Buddhists. It is practiced in many minor religions as well, including Jainism, an ancient religion of India; Raelism, a recent French religion founded in the 1970s; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the first Sunday of each month; and Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians on varying days.

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celt56
Post 9

@anon82803: The book of Matthew is part of the New Testament in every Bible I have ever seen, read, or used. I'm not sure where you found your Bible, but it isn't one that the majority of Christians worldwide use.

anon352727
Post 8

Orthodox Christianity (the Christian Church that still holds true to the original teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ) requires fasting.

anon284766
Post 7

The religion I was raised in, which is a form of witchcraft, teaches that on the eighth of every month, we are to cast the lots to see if its a Random Ritual Day. If it is, Hamari begins, which is a time of fasting and prayer. Hamari ends when the lots decide and this can go on for just a day or several.

The longest I ever was in fasting was 11 days and it was such an experience. I enjoyed it once the first few days of hunger had ended.

anon197591
Post 6

Fasting is definitely required by Christians. As a Catholic, I assure you that those who are ill and those who are 60 years or older are exempt from fasting. Friday is our fasting day and on other days we may choose to fast and pray. For fasting we are only allowed a vegetarian fare, chicken or other fowl, and fish. No meat is allowed.

anon191572
Post 5

Fasting is a way of giving sacrifice to God and humbling yourself.

anon103987
Post 4

I wonder why God was toughest on Muslims in terms

of fasting, middle with Jews and least with Christians, the same one God that created us all equally?

First of all, I believe and have seen many people from all religions fast in some way from some things with or without fasting days.

In some ways, everyone fasts, but I just think everyone must have the same fasting rules for all religions then we can all live equally. One extreme, one little bit is not equal in my world.

Personally, I have never understood why spiritual

things like fasting have been toughest on Muslims only, because I know all imposed inequalities. I no longer wonder.

anon82803
Post 3

@anon82692...Matthew 6.16 is still part of the Old Testament.

Jesus was preaching to the Jews. The "Church" was not established until the "Day of Pentecost" therefore the Apostle Paul preached to the gentiles.

Paul has no instruction on "fasting".

anon82692
Post 2

Matthew 6:16 "And when you fast..."

not "if" you fast but "when"

Jesus did expect his followers to fast.

serious
Post 1

I being a Christian, fasting is not required!

Jesus is Jewish, and it is mostly a Jewish requirement of their faith in Eliom. Even though fasting is not a Christian requirement of our faith, I do sacrifice on some days (temporary) and some things I have sacrificed permanently -- all with prayer and supplication.

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