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Bahá'í Writings on the Fast

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The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting
Selection of Extracts and Prayers from the Bahá'í Writings
Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice
published in The American Baha'i, Sept 27, 2000, Vol. 31, No. 7, pp. 3-6

Directives From the Guardian
70 FAST (Necessary Permission For)
71 FASTING (The Ordinance of)

About the Fast
Prayers and Meditations - pages 67-69

Nature of Fasting

Exemption from Obligatory Prayer (or the Fast) for the Sick

Prayers for the Fast from Baha'i Prayers

Fasting: the mercy and grace of God
by Bill Collins


Fasting in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
"We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period"

"We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity"

God hath exempted women who are in their courses from obligatory prayer and fasting.

Building Distinctive Baha'i Communities

Fifteen is the age at which a child attains spiritual maturity, and thus
it is at the age of fifteen that a Baha'i child assumes the
responsibility for obeying such laws as those of fasting and prayer, and
for affirming of his own volition his faith in Baha'u'llah.
Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated
July 19, 1982, to a National Spiritual Assembly

The Fast--March 2-March 20
/// Baha'is fast for 19 days from sunrise to sunset. In the West, the
fast period begins at sunrise March 2 and extends until sunset March 20.

15.33 Fasting

15.34 Application of Baha'i Law

The ordinance of fasting is, as in the case with these three prayers, a
spiritual and vital obligation enjoined by Baha'u'llah upon every
believer who has attained the age of 15. In the Aqdas He thus writes:

We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity;
this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. He
hath exempted from this those who are weak from illness or age, as a
bounty from His Presence, and He is the Forgiving, the Generous.

And in another passage He says:

We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period, and at its
close have designated for you Naw-Ruz as a feast. . . . The traveler,
the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by
the Fast; . . . Abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown, and
beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the

Also in the "Questions and Answers" that form an appendix to the Aqdas,
Baha'u'llah reveals the following:

Verily, I say that God has appointed a great station for fasting and
prayer. But during good health its benefit is evident, and when one is
ill, it is not permissible to fulfill them.

Concerning the age of maturity, He reveals in the appendix of that same

The age of maturity is fifteen for both men and women.

The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days, starting as a rule from
the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same
month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise
till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of
spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make
the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and
reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance
and purposes are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character.
Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and
carnal desires.
Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Baha'i Administration, pp. 8-9

Exemptions from Fasting
Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travelers are exempt from
fasting, but if they want to fast while they are traveling,

15.35 Huququ'llah

they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel,
not just the hours you are in a train or car, etc. If one eats
unconsciously during the fasting hours, this is not breaking the Fast as
it is an accident. The age limit is seventy years, but if one desires to
fast after the age limit is passed, and is strong enough to, one is free
to do so. If during the Fast period a person falls ill and is unable to
fast, but recovers before the fast period is over, he can start to fast
again and continue until the end. Of course the Fast, as you know, can
only be kept during the month set aside for that purpose.
Shoghi Effendi, in Baha'i News, #167, January 1944, p. 2
* IV.B.(5)(a) The definition of travelers for the purpose of exemption
from fasting. Instead of these definitions the believers in the West
should observe the following guidance given by the beloved Guardian's
secretary on his behalf: "Travelers are exempt from fasting, but if they
do want to fast while they are traveling, they are free to do so. You
are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you are
in a train or car, etc. . . ."

22. Question: Concerning the definition of a journey. [This relates to the minimum duration of a journey which exempts the traveller from fasting]
Answer: The definition of a journey is nine hours by the clock. Should the traveller stop in a place, anticipating that he will stay there for no less than one month by the Bayán reckoning, it is incumbent on him to keep the Fast; but if for less than one month, he is exempt from fasting. If he arriveth during the Fast at a place where he is to stay one month according to the Bayán, he should not observe the Fast till three days have elapsed, thereafter keeping it throughout the remainder of its course; but if he come to his home, where he hath heretofore been permanently resident, he must commence his fast upon the first day after his arrival. Kitáb-i-Aqdas - Questions and Answers

Smoking in Relation to the Fast
In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Baha, after stating that fasting consists
of abstinence from food and drink, further indicates that smoking is a
form of "drink." In Arabic the verb "drink" applies equally to smoking.

In the East, therefore, the friends abstain from smoking during the
hours of fasting, and friends from the East living in the West do
likewise. But, as stated in our letter to the National Assembly of New
Zealand, this application of the divine law has not been extended to the
friends in the West for the present, and therefore it should not be made
an issue.
Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated March 15, 1972, to
an individual believer

The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that the
prohibition of smoking as an aspect of fasting, as explained in Note 16
on page 59 of the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas has not
yet been applied in the West and therefore the friends should not make
an issue of it.
Letter written on behaf of the Universal House of Justice, dated
July 17, 1980, to an individual believer

* IV.B.(5)(f) The law regarding the exemption from fasting granted to
women in their courses.

From: Baha'i World Centre
28 December 1999

To the Baha'is of the World
Subject: Further Application of the Laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas

"Thus all elements of the laws dealing with obligatory prayer and fasting are, without any exception, now applicable."

Notes from the Authorized Translation - Notes to Aqdas, Sentence #264
138. All Feasts have attained their consummation in the two Most Great Festivals, and in the two other Festivals that fall on the twin days # 110
This passage establishes four great festivals of the Baha'i year. The two designated by Baha'u'llah as "the two Most Great Festivals" are, first, the Festival of Ridvan, which commemorates Baha'u'llah's Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as "the King of Festivals" and, second, the Bab's Declaration, which occurred in May 1844 in Shiraz. The first, ninth and twelfth days of the Festival of Ridvan are Holy Days (Q and A 1), as is the day of the Declaration of the Bab.
The "two other Festivals" are the anniversaries of the births of Baha'u'llah and the Bab. In the Muslim lunar calendar these fall on consecutive days, the birth of Baha'u'llah on the second day of the month of Muharram 1233 A.H. (12 November 1817), and the birth of the Bab on the first day of the same month 1235 A.H. (20 October 1819), respectively. They are thus referred to as the "Twin Birthdays" and Baha'u'llah states that these two days are accounted as one in the sight of God (Q and A 2). He states that, should they fall within the month of fasting, the command to fast shall not apply on those days (Q and A 36). Given that the Baha'i calendar (see notes 26 and 147) is a solar calendar, it remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine whether the Twin Holy Birthdays are to be celebrated on a solar or lunar basis.

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