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Yesterday, I celebrated Ramadan with a couple of friends and I was trying to explain what the celebration entailed in my diary. Could I use the term 斋戒 - the translation I found for "to fast" or is 禁食 more appropriate?

For example could I say, "每逢Ramadan大家都要从早上四点斋戒到晚上六点左右“

or would it be "从早上到晚上都要禁食”?

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  • 禁食 - Forbidden to eat or drink. i.e. fasting.

  • 斋戒 - This word can have a different meaning according to different religions. For example:

    1. Islam - no food or drinks at all
    2. Christianity - no meat from warmblooded (i.e. fish / shrimps are allowed)
    3. Chinese Buddhism - no meat / alcohol and certain types of vegetable

Therefore, it depends on the situation where you will use the words.

  • 2
    Also, 禁食 can be used as say fasting on diet, while 斋戒 is usually a regilious terms. – Alex Jul 29 '14 at 21:12
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斋戒 zhāijiè 动 ①(禁食荤、酒)abstain from meat, wine, etc. [when offering sacrifices to gods or ancestors] ②(封斋)fast 斋戒节 Ramadan

禁食 jìnshí 动 fast 禁食三日 three-day fast

and 斋戒 is more common to be used in a religious context.

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The word you are looking for is 守斋.

CC-CEDICT:

to fast

守 = to observe (sth.)

斋 = fast

In verb form this is the most appropriate word for your sentence.


examples:

number one

  伊斯兰教徒每年都要按规定守斋一个月,期间由破晓至日落不吃、不喝和不进行房事,每日亦復如是,从而学习忍耐、自律和控制欲望,体验飢饿之苦,并让身体机能有段时间休息。那么穆斯林在每年哪个日子守斋呢?答案是四季都有机会出现。

number two

平时除了斋月守斋外,每个星期一和星期四,马赫莱卜还要独自守斋。

number three

穆斯林球员梅苏特·厄齐尔。9月14日与桑德兰的英超联赛中,厄齐尔完成了阿森纳首秀。厄齐尔是一名虔诚的穆斯林,作为职业球员他无法在斋月正常守斋。

number four

 上午九点,北京市伊斯兰教协会会长、牛街清真寺大阿訇开始开斋节致辞,随后人们一起做礼拜。开斋节也称肉孜节,是守斋或封斋的结束,按伊斯兰教教义要求,在斋月里,穆斯林要静心寡欲,白天戒绝饮食。斋月期间守斋的穆斯林只在每天日出前和日落后进餐。开斋节是中国境内信仰伊斯兰教的回族、维吾尔族、哈萨克族、乌孜别克族、塔吉克族、塔塔尔族、柯尔克孜族、东乡族、撒拉族、保安族的共同传统节日。

number five

斋月,对于穆斯林是一次进行宗教意识锻炼的良机,凡男满17岁、女满15岁的成年穆斯林,每年都要守斋一个月。

  • Would anyone like to comment on this? It seems like other users have used both 禁食 and 斋戒 pretty comfortably in this context – Stephen Aug 1 '14 at 22:01
  • Here's an example: 斋月,对于穆斯林是一次进行宗教意识锻炼的良机,凡男满17岁、女满15岁的成年穆斯林,每年都要守斋一个月。 – user3306356 Aug 1 '14 at 23:20
  • Where did you find this? It looks super helpful – Stephen Aug 2 '14 at 14:11
  • @Stephen I've put five examples - including the one above - up top with links. This is what I've heard people using for 'to fast' when talking about 斋月 with Chinese people myself.... – user3306356 Aug 3 '14 at 11:33
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禁食 literally means forbid eating/food, but the word doesn't specify anything about water. Usually when 禁食 is said, water is allowed. To say 'no food no water', you could say 禁食禁水.

斋戒 literally means restrained eating; swear off of (certain food). So as @Alex's answer suggested, it refers to different rules based on the occasion. Could be vegetarian, could be no pork, could be no food at all. This word is usually related to religious eating control; for non-religious courses (e.g. for health/medical concerns) I would use 限制饮食/控制饮食 instead.

Based on that, to answer your questions:

Could I say, "每逢Ramadan大家都要从早上四点斋戒到晚上六点左右“

Yes you could. But you may want to explain what type of food is forbidden in a follow-up sentence.

Or would it be "从早上到晚上都要禁食”?

That would work too, and 'no food at all' is clearly indicated.

  • Hi NSX I would like to check with you on the word 禁食. To my understand it is usually a terms used to refer to no food or drink; to forbid "eating", people will use 禁止進食 in specific. Note that 禁食 is a short form of 禁止進食 but are actually used in different circumstance. 禁水 on the other hand, is often used differently as well, it means "forbid the usage of water (to shower / watering flower / etc). – Alex Jul 31 '14 at 14:12
  • @Alex I don't feel the difference between 禁食 and 禁止禁食 like you do. Since not to take water is a much more difficult task than not to eat, in my experience it's made explicit all the time like when the doctor asks you not to drink water before blood test. Of course 禁水 can mean 'forbid to use water' depending on the context but I don't think that usage is exclusive. – NS.X. Aug 1 '14 at 0:56
  • NSX maybe it's just where I live that I see the difference, and that 禁水 will seldomly use for forbidden to drink (as it's included in 禁食). But I guess it makes sense to literally say 禁食禁水 = no food no drinks! – Alex Aug 1 '14 at 13:37
  • NS X how do you feel about 斋戒 being used as a verb? Does this feel appropriate/natural to you? – Stephen Aug 1 '14 at 22:00
  • @Stephen I think generally 斋戒 as a verb is unnatural, but you can make it work with some phrasing tricks, like '他每天早上四点到晚上六点都要斋戒' - this sentence is very acceptable in spoken language, though a simple grammatical analysis would reveal the issue. – NS.X. Aug 2 '14 at 0:11

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