Why fast during Ramadan?
One of the pillars of Islam is fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise until sundown abstaining from eating food, drinking, bad habits and having sexual relations (with their spouses). There are many reasons why Muslims fast during Ramadan.
- One reason why Muslims fast is because it helps them share the feelings of the hungry, and the less fortunate in the community. People often take the blessing of food for granted, forgetting that there are others who do not have the privilege of having food. By fasting, a Muslim learns how it feels to be hungry, which causes greater appreciation for the blessing of food, as well as increase giving charity to the poor.
- Fasting also provides a form of unity for Muslims all over the world because during Ramadan, all Muslims around the world fast together.
- A third benefit for fasting is the cleansing of the soul and the strengthening of the faith through increased worship.
- One reason is that it benefits the health by cleaning the system of the body. Doctors agree that fasting every once in a while is healthy.
Muslims all over the world observe the annual fast during the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, in keeping with a divine commandment documented in Chapter 2, Verse 185 of the Holy Qur’an. Furthermore, Allah states, “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed to those before you in order that you may attain taqwa” (Chapter 2, Verse 183). From this verse, we deduce that.
- Fasting is prescribed for believers.
- Fasting has historically been an institution commonly practiced by various religious communities (for example, during Lent by Christians and on Yom Kippur by Jews).
- Fasting is a means to attaining taqwa (purification of heart and mind)
Through fasting, one demonstrates the highest degree of obedience by willfully submitting to abstaining from lawful food, drink, bad habits and sexual relations (with their spouses) from sunrise to sunset one month every year. This regimentation is an excellent means for spiritual and moral improvement.
Through fasting, the human being comes to grip with his carnal self, taming his physical appetites, subduing his greed and lust, and thus traversing a path which progressively elevates his consciousness from the physical to the moral and ultimately to the spiritual dimension of his being. This consciousness and submission is in a cultivation of self-discipline and is the ideal catalyst to improve society by improving the individual self.
It is also by means of fasting that those who never have to hunger or thirst are (to some extent) made personally aware of the plight of the underprivileged, which thus evokes a degree of social consciousness. The aim of attaining taqwa is, in fact, that degree of ethical rectitude and moral elevation that flows from a heightened level of God-consciousness. It emanates from the spiritual rejuvenation inspired by the selfless act of fasting for Allah.Among the reasons behind fasting are:
1 – Fasting is a means that makes us appreciate and give thanks for pleasures. For fasting means giving up eating, drinking, bad habits and intercourse, which are among the greatest pleasures. By giving them up for a short time, we begin to appreciate their value. Because the blessings of Allah are not recognized, but when you abstain from them, you begin to recognize them, so this motivates you to be grateful for them.
2 – Fasting is a means of giving up haraam things, because if a person can give up halaal things in order to please Allah and for fear of His painful torment, then he will be more likely to refrain from haraam things. So fasting is a means of avoiding the things that Allah has forbidden.
3 – Fasting enables us to control our desires, because when a person is full his desires grow, but if he is hungry then his desire becomes weak. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O young men! Whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting one’s chastity. Whoever cannot do that, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.”
4 – Fasting makes us feel compassion and empathy towards the poor, because when the fasting person tastes the pain of hunger for a while, he remembers those who are in this situation all the time, so he will hasten to do acts of kindness to them and show compassion towards them. So fasting is a means of feeling empathy with the poor.
5 – Fasting humiliates and weakens the Shaytaan; it weakens the effects of his whispers (waswaas) on a person and reduces his sins. That is because the Shaytaan “flows through the son of Adam like blood” as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, but fasting narrows the passages through which the Shaytaan flows, so his influence grows less.
Shaykh al-Islam said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 25/246
Undoubtedly blood is created from food and drink, so when a person eats and drinks, the passages through which the devils flow – which is the blood – become wide. But if a person fasts, the passages through which the devils flow become narrow, so hearts are motivated to do good deeds, and to give up evil deeds.
6 – The fasting person is training himself to remember that Allah is always watching, so he gives up the things that he desires even though he is able to take them, because he knows that Allah can see him.
7 – Fasting means developing an attitude of asceticism towards this world and its desires, and seeking that which is with Allah.
8 – It makes the Muslim get used to doing a great deal of acts of worship, because the fasting person usually does more acts of worship and gets used to that.
These are some of the reasons why fasting is enjoined. We ask Allah to help us to achieve them and to worship Him properly.
And Allah knows best.