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Fasting From an Islamic Perspective | Abed Ayoub

31 Mar Posted by in Tony Hall's Blog | Comments Off
Fasting From an Islamic Perspective | Abed Ayoub

In the Islamic faith, we believe God made a direct connection between worshiping Him and personal security and food security. In one chapter of the Quran, before God invites people to worship him, He reminds them who provides their food and their safety. Food security is extremely important. Without food security and personal security, we cannot expect people to live in peace.

Muslims are given a personal responsibility to help provide food security for those around us. The Quran tells us repeatedly to feed the hungry, but beyond that, Islam also gives us a hands-on workshop in the form of Ramadan, when we abstain from all food and drink from dawn to sunset. This month of fasting teaches the lessons of sympathy and empathy. After fasting all day, we can begin to understand what hunger feels like, and what it would be like if we did not have the evening meal to look forward to. Then, at the end of the month, we must pay a charity called Zakat Al-Fitr to provide food for a poor person. This reminds us that the lesson is not just an exercise for ourselves – we are to put it into practice and take care of the hungry around us. And Islam provides us with a tune-up in this lesson year-round, as we are encouraged to follow the Prophet Muhammad’s tradition of fasting twice a week, every Monday and Thursday. This keeps the memory of hunger and the lesson of sympathy sharp all year.

At Islamic Relief, when Muslims fast – either in Ramadan or voluntary fasts at other times of the year – we encourage them to take these lessons to heart. We ask them to pray for those who are struggling with hunger around the world, and to turn the lesson into action and help feed them as well. The number of hungry is high, but the number who have enough to share is high as well, and together we can help provide the security that the world needs.

Abed Ayoub is CEO of Islamic Relief USA and a Governance Committee member of Islamic Relief Worldwide. He also serves on the executive board of many local and international nonprofit organizations. He is a founding partner of the Center for Interfaith Action, a coalition of faith organizations working collectively to reduce global poverty and disease. In April 2010, he was appointed to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. Along with other leaders in the international development field, Ayoub provides advice, analysis and recommendations to USAID on the most pressing development issues in the world today.