There are many reasons why people do fast, depending upon the social, cultural, religious, and economic understanding of the people.
Some of the reasons can be: to lose weight, to lower blood pressure, to cut down on smoking, to digest food better, to learn better eating habits, to share with the hungry, to call attention to political or social issues and so on.
However, Muslims fast as a religious obligation upon them, so as to gain the pleasure of Allah the Highest and to earn His blessings and rewards.
The reason Muslims fast can be found directly in the Qur’an and the Sayings of Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him).
The divine purpose of fasting is to develop righteousness and to attain a spiritual state of mind where it turns towards Allah for the whole day.
Another purpose is to train self-discipline and an exercise in patience and endurance. A person who observes fast becomes the master of his/her desires instead of a slave to them, thus making one feel closer to Allah because He only knows whether a person is fasting or not. Therefore it is a test as to whether one wants to please Allah or not.
Fasting provides a direct communication between the slaves and the Creator (Allah the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever exists). It is an act of worship that enriches self-worth, self-strength, self-discipline, and control. It moves the believers from an unauthentic to an authentic environment that enriches their vital needs of physical and spiritual. It makes us forget about our beginning, it awakens the mind and hearts thinking and being conscious of Allah.
Fasting has also social benefits. Fasting gives the Muslims a feeling of brotherhood in practice. It draws them closer together and fills their hearts with love and affection. Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) Said:
My nation is given five privileges in the month of Ramadan that no nation was given before:
- The khaloof (the odour of the mouth of a fasting person) is sweeter in the sight of Allah than the fragrance of musk.
- The angels keep praying to Allah to forgive the fasting people until they break their fast.
- Allah decorates Paradise every day saying to it ‘My righteous slaves are about to be comforted of their burdens and sufferings and enter you’.
- The Shayteen (Satans) are chained during this month.
- Sins of the believers are forgiven by the last night of Ramadan’’.
Fasting brings passion under control. Passion is the root of all evils, and this can be regulated by the method of fasting. Allah the Highest created man and his passion, He knows the best medicine for passion and therefore prescribed fasting.
There are several sayings of the Prophet (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) relating to the virtues and merits, which a man receives from Allah by fasting in the month of Ramadan. In this month, the doors of mercy, forgiveness, and kindness are specially opened and the doors of punishments are closed.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him), Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) Said:
“When the month of Ramadan arrives, the doors of Heaven are opened, the doors of Hell are closed and the devils are put under chains and according to another narration: the doors of mercy are opened” (Bukhari and Muslim)
It has also been narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) Said:
“Whoever observes (fasts) during the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s Rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven”. (Al-Bukhari).
The Prophet (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) has pointed out to us the real spirit of fasting and has explained that to go hungry and thirsty while ignoring the spirit of fasting carries no value in the sight of Allah The Highest. The Prophet (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) Said:
“If one does not give up speaking falsehood and acting by it, Allah The Highest does not require him to give up eating and drinking”. (Al-Bukhari).
Respected brothers and sisters in Islam, May Allah unite us upon the love of Him and upon following the Sunnah of His Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him). Having seriously glanced in the understanding of the aims of fasting, every Muslim needs to know the characteristics of the Prophet’s fast, its obligatory rules, its manner and its benefits and then put these into practice.
When a Muslim maintains this attitude throughout the month of Ramadan, he/she will definitely come out a better Muslim. This is indicated in Allah s words:
‘O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious). (Quran: Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 183)
Therefore, seeking the aid of Allah, it was decided to gather information pertaining these issues describing how the fast should be observed. Whatever is found within it to be correct and good is from Allah, and any mistakes are from us and from the Shaytaan (the devil).