The Bahá'í Fast
From March 2-20, Baha'is worldwide rise before dawn to eat breakfast, pray and then abstain from eating or drinking until sunset in observation of the annual 19-day Fast.
As in many world religions, the Fast is a time for reflecting on one's spiritual progress and making an effort to detach from material desires. As one Baha'i puts it, "During the fast, we make an effort to know God better.” The Faith exempts from fasting those who are ill, elderly, traveling, pregnant, nursing, menstruating or engaged in heavy labor. Baha'is from age 15 to 70 are enjoined to participate in the annual fast. Abdu'l-Baha, the son and appointed successor of Baha'u'llah, wrote that “Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases.” The Fast, said, Baha'u'llah, helps people become better aware of the sufferings of the poor. Abdu’l-Baha described how the Prophets of God - including Moses, Jesus and Baha'u'llah - all fasted. Thus, He said, the Baha'i period of fasting allows believers to feel closer to the founders of the great religions by sharing this experience.
“Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquility.”— Bahá’u’lláh
“…prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests.”— 'Abdu'l-Baha