Fasting, which Muslims around the world perform during the month of Ramadan, is a practice also observed by the followers of other faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Jainism, though in different manners.

Fasting was a form of worship practiced well before Islam, although in a form different from what is now practiced by Muslims. It is written in the second chapter of the Holy Quran, titled Al-Baqarah, that fasting was prescribed to Muslims as it had been prescribed to nations before them.
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restraint (183).” Fasting for Jews means completely abstaining from food and drink, including water. Taking medication or even brushing teeth are forbidden on the major fast days of Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av, which last from sundown one day until nightfall the next, but are permitted on minor fast days, which last from dawn to nightfall.
Fasting had been observed in many different forms in Christianity throughout history. Today, there are different types of fasting in Christianity. For Catholics, eucharistic fasting involves refraining from eating solid foods for certain hours before Communion. This type of fasting used to be refraining from solid foods starting at 12 a.m. on the communion day, whereas it has been changed over time to not eating anything for one hour and not drinking alcohol for three hours before Communion. Lenten fasting, on the other hand, covers a period of 40 days in the Catholic Church. For Roman Catholics, it generally involves eating one meal during the day and making do with less food in the morning and evening, while some avoid all food and drink only water.
Hindus fast on certain days of the year and on festivals to purify their souls. Hindus have special days they spend in prayer and worship and reading their holy texts and on which they do not eat. Fasting in Hinduism can involve abstaining from food or eating only certain foods. Jainism has many types of fasting, ranging from a complete abstinence from food and water that ends in death to limiting the size of meals or refraining from eating certain foods.

21 August 2009, Friday