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Islam - Religious Duty - Five Pillars

4. Fasting during the sacred month of Ramadan

Except for the sick and ailing or those on a journey, the fast during the of Ramadan is compulsory. The fast begins at day break (judged by when you can distinguish a white thread from a black one). During these hours Muslims may not eat, drink, or have sexual activity. Even swallowing of saliva is prohibited! At sundown, the devotees partake on enough food and drink to enable them to fast the next day without physical weakness. 

Fasting has significance in Islam at several levels: it commemorates the experience of revelation that was granted to Muhammad; it singles out a month in the changing lunar calendar during which all adult Muslims practice a common act of discipline, self-denial, and self-examination; it enlarges their sympathy and compassion for persons deprived of the daily means of survival; and finally it establishes a continuity of practice with religions such as Judaism and Christianity, in which fasting is recognized as an important element. 

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