Why Fasting During Ramadan Isn't Just About Food

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.
As you may already know, Ramadan isn't just about fasting during the day. However, as one of the more visible forms of celebration, the daytime meal-skipping has become a point of fascination for non-Muslims — and it's not as simple as it seems.
Here are the basics: For the month of Ramadan, which started this past Tuesday, Muslims abstain from eating from just before dawn until the sun sets. There's a pre-dawn meal known as the suhur. And, at sundown, they break their fast with a communal meal called the iftar.
And it's a big deal. While nightly prayers and other forms of celebration play a significant role in Ramadan, too, fasting is actually one of the five pillars of Islam. In other words, fasting is believed to be a key experience for Muslims and foundational to their religious identity. Like we said, fasting isn't the only thing you need to know about Ramadan, but it is very important.
But fasting during Ramadan doesn't just apply to food — and there are a few additional guidelines that you might not know if you don't observe the holiday yourself. Not all of them have to do eating, but they are all meant to facilitate the spiritual reflection and purification that the month of Ramadan is actually all about.

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