Sawm is the Fourth Pillar of Islam. This is the fasting. There are three types of Sawm: ritual fasting, fasting as compensation for repentance, and ascetic fasting.
Ritual fasting is obligatory during Ramadan. Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn until dusk during Ramadan, and are to be especially mindful of other sins–including sexual activity. It is necessary for every Muslim who has reached puberty. Exceptions are: medical conditions that prevent them from practicing Sawm, pre-pubescent children, elderly, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
“Although fasting is beneficial to health, it is mainly a method of self-purification and self-restraint.” (Zahid). By cutting oneself from worldly comforts, a fasting person focuses on their life purpose by constantly being aware of the presence of God (Allah). It also helps teach them sympathy for those who go hungry. You will find a passage about fasting in the Quran (Sura 2:183).
- Zahid, Ishaq. “Five Pillars of Islam.” Five Pillars of Islam. Islam101, n.d. Web. 12 July 2012. http://www.islam101.com/dawah/pillars.html.