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Ṣawm or ṣiyām. Fasting, the fourth pillar of Islam. Fasting is obligatory on Muslims, during the whole month of Ramaḍān, and at other times in compensation for days then missed; it can also be practised in fulfilment of a personal vow, or as a pious action. Ṣawm must be preceded by the niy(y)a, ‘intention’.

During Ramaḍān, any adult Muslim of sound mind and in good health must abstain from food, drink, smoking, and sexual relations during daylight hours, which are estimated as beginning when ‘the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread’ at dawn (Qurʾān 2. 187). It is customary, and recommended, for the Muslim to have a final meal (saḥūr) shortly before daybreak; in the evening the first food (fuṭūr) should be of water or dates, with a large meal following.