Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It is not acceptable to eat lamb, chicken, beef, pork, ham, deer, and most of other meats. However, eggs, milk, fishes, grains, fruits, and vegetables are all allowed. They also abstain from meat on all Fridays in Lent.
Jews fast on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in accordance with God’s command to Moses, “This law will always continue for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month, you must not eat food.” (2). Like Muslims, Jews fast from dawn until the first stars are visible. However, Jews fast a full 24 hours without food or water for the Day of Atonement and the 9th of Av, the day both the first and second Temples were destroyed.
There are many benefits behind fasting as stated in our Hadith collections. For instance, it is mentioned that fasting makes people recognize hunger and thirst so that they would remember the Day of Judgment, avoid arrogance, and help the poor (3). However, when the holy Quran obligated fasting there was one factor that it shed light upon, and that was godliness and god-fearing. “O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful of Allah.” (4). Yet it can be stated that all the benefits of fasting can return to one concept and that is godliness.
In their nature, the farther humans are from their lord, their master, the farther they become from their purpose of life, and the closer they are to corruption. Humans always need that back to reality check where they remember that they are servants of God. Thus, we see different religions share the concept of abstaining from desires as a way to tame the human. Even though some may view fasting as a punishment, there is no doubt that it helps humans grow spiritually.
(1) Al-Baqara, verse 118.
(2) Leviticus 16:29
(3) Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih, v2, p.73 and onwards.
(4) Al-Baqara, verse 183.