Fasting is a universal institution designed to better a person as an individual and as a member of society. It was practiced by al the "men of God" since the beginning of time.
The Israelite Prophets used to observe fasting on the following occasions:
· Public disasters
· Private afflictions
· Approaching danger
· National repentance
· Sad news, and
· Sacred ordination.
Their fast used to comprise abstinence from physical nourishment, prayer, repentance, mourning and demonstration of humility.
In the Holy Qur'an Allah tells the believers that the prescription of fasting that is now prescribed for was also prescribed to those before. It further adds that it is not for the purpose of appeasing God, or for getting some type of material benefits; rather it is for the purpose of developing taqwa.
This term incorporates the following meanings:
· love for Allah
· accepts with humility anything that comes from Him
· maintenance of integrity and honor
· strict observance of worship
· charity for the sake of Allah
· acceptance and adherence to guidance
· does fear or grieve
· belief in Allah, His revelations, His messengers.
Islam has institutionalized fasting by making a principle of faith and obligatory on all Muslims. It has set aside a particular month for the purpose. As a result every Muslim is supposed to develop the qualities contained in taqwa. This will result in the moral, spiritual and social development of every member of the society.
If properly observed, fasting helps a person to display humble submission to the Lord of the worlds. It develops in him patience in dealing with others and he is able to give more consideration to others especially regarding their physical needs. It also enables a person to have religious experiences.
When God wanted to give Moses the laws, He invited him to the mountain and kept him there for forty days and nights in a state of fast (Ex.34:28). The same thing was done to Jesus the son of Mary. (Mt.4:2).
Muslims also get their spiritual experience in the Holy month of Ramadan, as towards the end of the month there is the special night called the night of power in which the angels descend and visit them, and they get their experiences.
At the end of this month, the feeling of those who kept the fast is different and so when they go to the Mosque for Eid, it is really a joyous feeling. There is a greater sense of brotherhood and love coming from each one to the other.
When we look at the direction towards which society is now heading, we see before us, insecurity, murders, rape, robbery, haughtiness, selfishness, etc. One of the reasons why these things are happening is because the institution of fasting is not really passed on to the younger ones. Otherwise there would have been more tolerance, as fasting helps a person to practice restraint.
We all would be happy to live in a society where there is love for one another, where the people are sharing and caring, where a person would like for his brother what he would like for himself. These qualities must be developed in the individuals, and one of the best ways of doing so it to keep fast and observed the restrictions associated with it.
Fasting is done solely for the sake of Allah and the rewards are immense. We pray to Him to bless us with understanding and appreciation for His Mercies and Favors in this life and beg Him to bless us with Paradise in the next.