IF YOU know a Muslim, you are sure to have heard about Ramadan and the tradition of fasting in Islam.
Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar, and it began Aug. 1 in the United States. Millions of Muslims across the country and many more across the world will spend the month fasting.
Even though it is singular in its details, the practice of fasting as a form of spiritual exercise is not unique to Islam. Almost all religions advocate fasting in one form or the other. Our Founding Fathers and the Pilgrims attributed their successes to prayer and fasting.
An entry in President George Washington’s diary reads, “June 1st, went to church and fasted all day.” When the country was on the verge of war with France in 1798, President John Adams proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer to avoid war. During the war with Britain, both houses of Congress under President James Madison desired to spend a day in “fasting and prayer.” President Abraham Lincoln is also well-known to have called the nation to prayer and fasting for national peace and unity on three different occasions during the Civil War.