Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, in His infinite wisdom, has ordained that we should fast. He tells us in the Qur’an:
“O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa.” (Surah al-Baqarah:183)
Fasting is a way for us to achieve piety and fear of Allah, or taqwa. The fasting person feels hunger in their stomach whilst their heart is being purified. Through restraining our desires, we draws closer to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. Fasting in this month of Ramadan is a training for our soul. It helps us to remember Allah and our true purpose in life. It is our secret between ourselves and our Lord, something we do for Him alone, and as such, Allah promises us a special reward:
“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan with faith and hoping for its reward shall have all of his previous sins forgiven for him.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)
By the mercy of Allah, our fasting will also intercede for us on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“The fast and the Qur’an shall come as intercessors on the Day of Resurrection. The fast shall say, ’O Lord, I prevented him from his food and drink during the day, so let me intercede for him’. The Qur’an will say, ‘I kept him from sleep during the night, so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will be allowed to intercede.” (Recorded in Ahmad)
Fasting is also a shield for us against our carnal desires. It helps us to lower our gaze guard our thoughts and protect our limbs. In this way, it serves to shield us from the punishments of the Hell-Fire. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Fasting is a shield from the Hell-fire like one of your shields shielding you while fighting.” (Recorded in Ahmad)
The Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to cry with happiness when Ramadan arrived and weep our of sadness when it passed. They knew the very essence of fasting as a means of drawing closer to Allah and they strived to make sacrifices for the sake of Allah during this blessed month. They stayed up during its nights bowing and prostrating themselves with tears and humility. They passed its days in remembrance, recitation, learning, propagation and giving counsel. Fasting was a delight and a source of internal peace for the early Muslims. They trained their spirits towards its objectives, purified their hearts with its teachings and disciplined their souls with its wisdom.
Fasting also ensures the unity of the Muslims. They fast and break their fasts at the same time. They feels the pangs of hunger and know that others feel it too. They sit to eat together in the spirit of brotherhood, love and devotion. It is from Allah’s infinite wisdom that the act of fasting purifies our bodies as well as our souls. It rids the body of contaminated matter, purifies the blood, eases the stomach and the workings of the heart.
There is a great secret in fasting: that is to worship Allah and seek His pleasure by submitting to His orders and surrendering to His laws and by forsaking one’s desires. Fasting therefore represents the triumph of the Muslim over their desires and their inner selves. It is half of patience. Whoever is unable to fast without any good reason, will never master their selves or conquer their desires. Those who are patient and can master their desires, they are the successful ones.