Dr. Shaukat Mahmood Fasting is a ritual practised in several major religions of the world. Muslims abstain from eating during the holy month of Ramazan, Jews fast in observance of their holiest day Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, traditionally for a 25-hour period, engaging themselves in intensive prayers. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Hindus sometimes fast as part of worship. In some pre-Islamic traditions, fasting is seen as a way to get closer to the Divine, to cleanse the body, or to prepare for a more elaborate ritual later on. In many cases, the point of fasting is to deny the body physical pleasures and needs in order to attain a deeper connection to the gods. In Sikhism, fasting is prohibited. Bahais observe fasting from Mrach 2 to March 22. There are several types of fasts in Jainism, like no food or water from sunrise to sunrise next day; no food but boiled water; for the eight days or one month; easting only one meal a day; two meals a day; and then fast called Santhara, the religious ritual of voluntary death by fasting. Supporters of this practice believe that Santhara cannot be considered suicide. The goal of all is the same as in other religions. Buddhist monks and nuns commonly do not eat each day after the noon meal. This is not considered fasting but a disciplined regimen aiding in meditation and good health. Once when the Buddha was touring in the region of Kasi together with a large sangha of monks he told them that he did not eat a meal in the evening to remain in good health and buoyancy and strength and advised to follow him in the practice. In Christianity the acceptable fast means afflicting the soul by abstaining from fulfilling the needs or wants of the flesh. Fasting is a practice in several Christian denominations or other churches. Some denominations do not practice it, considering it an external observance, but many individual believers choose to observe fasts at various times. The Lenten fast observed in the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church is a forty-day partial fast to commemorate the fast observed by Christ during his temptation in the desert. Fasting is an integral part of the Hindu religion. Individuals observe different kinds of fasts based on personal beliefs and local customs. Devotees of Shiva fast on Mondays and Vishnu on Fridays or Saturdays. Thursday fasting is common among the Hindus of northern India where they wear yellow clothes and prefer meals with yellow colour. Women worship the banana tree and water it. Fasting during religious festivals is also very common. In one case, only fruit and milk are taken. A form of fasting is practiced in some parts of India where married women undertake a fast for the well-being, prosperity, and longevity of their husbands. The fast is broken after the wife views the moon through a sieve. The name Ramazan had been the name of the ninth month in Arabian culture long before the arrival of Islam. In the Quran, God proclaims that fasting has been written down (as obligatory) upon you, as it was upon those before you. This refers to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur. Ramazan is the fasting month of the Muslims. The month could be of 29 or 30 days. The practice of fasting in Islam is called al-Sawm. Originally, in Arabic the word 'al-Sawm (Sawm) meant 'al-Imsak, that is, to abstain totally from any act including eating, drinking, walking, speaking, etc. Thus, the Arabs used to refer to a horse refusing to run or to be fed, as 'Saum, that is, fasting. As is clear, the word 'Sawm is ancient and was used in a different context by the Arabs before Islam. As an Islamic term, it means to refrain intentionally from eating or taking any liquid including water. God has commanded this sanctified duty and enjoined it upon Muslims, who are adults and healthy, as He had enjoined it on the believing nations before. By fasting, a person keeps himself from the pleasures of life, with no preventive or hindering factor, except that of obeying God and showing genuine devotion to His commands. Traditions (ahadith) succinctly explain this fact: A fasting person is in a state of worship, even when asleep, except when he backbites another Muslim. (Al-Kafi, al- Kulayni, The Book of Fasting. Every breath you take is (has the reward of) Tasbih (praise to Allah) and your sleep is worship. (Uyun al-Akhbar al-Rida - the Prophets sermon). Sometimes referred to as the night of decree or measures, Laylat al-Qadr is considered the most holy night of the year, as it is the night in which the Quran was revealed to Muhammad (PBUH). Muslims believe it to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramazan, either the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th. Ramazan ends with Eid ul-Fitr on the 1st of Shawwal, with much celebration and feasting. During the month following Ramazan, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days, known as as-Sitta al-Bi, or the white six. When fasting is over, Muslims go to mosques in formal clothes to pray the first Eid prayer. They give out presents to the young ones and greet their friends and families. They then thank God for what He has given them.