Sawm: Fasting

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12856

Just because every one else is doing something, does that mean you should do it, too? Especially if it's giving up food and drink? In Islam, it's a means of solidarity, with each other and the poor!


World Cultures, World Religions

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


How many times a day do you think about (no less eat) food? How long could you go in a day without eating or drinking anything?

For most of human history and prehistory, food has been hard to come by.

In the centuries and millennia past, it took a huge effort to get the nourishment we needed, either through hunting, gathering, or farming. Our bodies are hard-wired to eat what we can when we get it, because of how scarce food can be. That’s why it seems so challenging for many of us to stop ourselves from eating.

People may choose to not eat for various reasons. Some people have illnesses or other challenges that prevent them from feeling hungry. Others may choose not to eat because they would like to lose weight or improve their health. Another major reason why people may choose not to eat is religious; they believe that refraining from food and drink brings them spiritual benefits.

This practice — refraining from food and drink for religious reasons — is known as fasting. Many religions teach some form of fasting. Learn more about this practice by reading From Lent to Ramadan, what religious fasts mean by Rasha Ali for USA TODAY. As you read, compare and contrast these traditions in your journal or notebook. 

Now, reflect on the following questions and record your responses in your notebook or journal:

  • Why do you think some people believe fasting can bring spiritual benefits?
  • What potential social or other benefits can you think of that come from fasting?
  • What challenges or dangers do you think might come from fasting?

The religions of the world teach different forms of fasting. Imagine going for one whole month without eating or drinking a single thing during the daylight hours!

In the Got It? section, collect information about the Islamic month of fasting: Ramadan.

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