Why Do Muslims Fast During the Month of Ramadan?

We explain the islamic tradition of fasting during the muslim holy month of Ramadan.

BY: Sa'dullah Khan

 

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.
Taqwa

implies guarding one's self from evil and the imbibing of all elements of righteousness, thus reflecting the essence of piety. In its ethical dimension, it connotes moral rectitude (which is the fruit of God-oriented vigilance), and in its spiritual dimension it connotes purification of heart and mind.

Through fasting, one demonstrates the highest degree of obedience by willfully submitting to abstaining from lawful food, drink, and sexual relations 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.



Q. Who should fast, and who does not have to?



Fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory for every mature (over the age of puberty), sane, and healthy Muslim.

Those not obliged to fast are the insane, mentally retarded, or chronically ill, and those under the age of puberty.

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