Purpose of fasting in Islam
- To develop and strengthen our powers of self-control, so that we can resist wrongful desires and bad habits, and therefore “guard against evil” . In fasting, by refraining from the natural human urges to satisfy one’s appetite, we are exercising our ability of self-restraint, so that we can then apply it to our everyday life to bring about self-improvement.
- To attain nearness and closeness to God so that He becomes a reality in our lives. As we bear the rigours of fasting purely for the sake of following a Divine commandment, knowing and feeling that He can see all our actions however secret, it intensifies the consciousness of God in our hearts, resulting in a higher spiritual experience.
- To learn to refrain from usurping other’s rights and belongings. In fasting we voluntarily give up even what is rightfully ours; how can then we think of taking what is not ours but belongs to someone else?
- Charity and generosity is especially urged during Ramadan. We learn to give, and not to take. The deprivation of fasting makes us sympathise with the suffering of others, and desirous of alleviating it; and it makes us remember the blessings of life which we normally take for granted.
Fasting in Islam does not just consist of refraining from eating and drinking, but from every kind of selfish desire and wrong-doing. The fast is not merely of the body, but essentially that of the spirit as well . The physical fast is a symbol and outward expression of the real, inner fast.
Fasting is a spiritual practice to be found in all religions (see extracts no. 1 and 5). The great Founders of various faiths (Buddha, Moses, Jesus, etc.) practised quite rigorous fasting as a preliminary to attaining their first experience of spiritual enlightenment and communion with God. This kind of communion is indicated in.
The month of Ramadhan is not like any other month; its purpose is to rid man of those habits which he has accumulated throughout the rest of the year. It is a month that prepares man for the remaining eleven months by teaching him discipline and self control. Thus, Allah has made some acts which are beloved to man, like eating, drinking and fulfilling one’s desires, Haraam. If man can control these desires in this month, which are usually permissible for him, then he can surely control himself from other desires which are not permissible throughout the remaining months.
This blessed month has been sent by Allah to His bondsmen so that can create a connection and draw closer to Allah by reaping the many rewards that lie in this month. A person who has been given the opportunity to be present in this month can take this as a sign that Allah Ta’ala has given him another opportunity to draw closer to Him and earn His paradise through worship in this month.
In this month we will be given many opportunities, as mentioned above to reform ourselves and seek forgiveness for our bad sins. This is a month of reformation and self reflection, where a believer can ponder of over spirituality and piety and bring a change for the better. The Prophet of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم has clearly stated:
مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ
“Whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]
It is clear from this Hadeeth which has been narrated on the authority of Hadrhat Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه that Allah is not in need of any person to leave his food or drink. Allah is far from needs and desires. However, it is the mercy of Allah that He wants each and every person to leave those things which will lead him to the hellfire and by controlling one’s desires throughout this month it is hoped that one will be able to control himself throughout the following months also.
For those who can relate, we can look at the month of Ramadhan like an MOT test. It is vital to be on form during this test. Once the test is over then we should be at a standard where we can continue through the following months. Indeed, there will be repairs and faults in between, but these will be minor and can be dealt with on the spot.
May Allah Ta’ala make us successful in this test, for the one who is unsuccessful in this test may not be given an opportunity for a re-test.
ان جبرئيل عرض لي فقال بعد من ادرك رمضان فلم يغفر له قلت آمين
“Jibreel came to me and said, ‘Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have his sins forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him, say ameen.” So I said “Ameen” [Mustadrak al-Haakim]
In summary, the month of Ramadhan has been made so that mankind can take benefit of the merits and blessings contained within to change themselves for the better and by doing so create a bond with Allah that will continue throughout the eleven remaining months.
It is a month within which Allah has instructed us to place more emphasis on actions regarding our Deen (religion) as opposed to our daily routine and emphasis on worldly matters.
I pray that this information comes in use and aids the readers in preparing for the month of Ramadhan.
As a reminder, please commit the following Du’a to memory and make a habit of reciting it daily until the day of Ramdhan.
اللهم بارك لنا في رجب وشعبان وبلغنا رمضان
“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan.” [Musnad-e-Ahmed]
by Maulana Zain