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The Reasons Why We Fast in Islam

13th June, 2018

In Islam, the Holy month of Ramadan has been bestowed upon Muslims for many reasons, all of which are of benefit for us and us alone. Here are some of the core benefits of fasting in Islam.

An Obligation

First things first, sawm (fasting) is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam, therefore it is an obligation and commitment upon all (able) Muslims to fast during the Holy month of Ramadan.

To Help Others

One of the key aspects of this month is the giving of Ramadan donations. It is widely known that giving to those in need during this auspicious month brings countless reward and blessings. In this day and age, it is so easy to forget that Allah SWT could have showered every living soul with riches and wealth, but there is a reason behind Him not doing so.

Ramadan serves to remind us of the hunger and thirst that some people have no choice but to face every single day – deprivation of even the most basic essentials whilst we tend to overlook even the simplest of privileges we have, such as clean water for bathing.

Our worldly given wealth is to prompt us to share and to create an equal, balanced society – to practise humanity and influence others into sharing something that isn’t really ours to begin with.

Not only does this increase our reward in the Hereafter, it also doesn’t detract from our worldly wealth either.

To Purify Oneself

The characteristics adopted during the time of fasting are the qualities we should be portraying as Muslims in the first place. The month is a core reminder as to how we are meant to be anyway, not for how we should be only during this month. The month reminds us of the purity we should be attaining and disciplining ourselves to exercise these acts to secure them for our day to day lives, accustoming ourselves to purifying our beliefs along with our bodies, minds and souls.   

Attaining Taqwa

Gaining closeness to Allah SWT and instilling fear of our Lord - it is incredibly important to remember who our Creator is, why we were put here and what our goals are in this material world; to remember that the world is merely just a stop-gap (an incredibly short one) in our journey to the Hereafter. We should seek to attain taqwa and be as close to our Lord as possible.

Connecting to our Lord is important to remember our purpose here in the first place, else we will find ourselves lost in this realm, which is what we are here to avoid.

Promoting Equality

In the materialistic world that we live in, we often fail to realise how dependent we are upon Allah SWT. This is why we should practise retaining humility at all times; an act as simple as refraining from nourishment just proves how reliant we are on our Lord and His invention. Ramadan is an evident reminder for us to remain humble and selfless and have empathy and compassion for others at all times.

Ramadan, along with many other attributes of Islam, serves to remind us that we are all equal in this world, regardless of skin colour, race, religion, gender or status. In the end, we will all be going to the same place, in the same attire, taking nothing but our amaal with us and leaving all matter of worldly belongings behind. That is when we shall truly witness that those who we helped in this world will contribute towards what we take with us in our Hereafter.

Practising Self-Discipline / Detachment

Practising restraint and discipline is taught in many paths of life – even to the extent of sports. Practising the art of self-discipline allows you to attain separation from certain desires and allows you to constrain yourself and detach yourself from your needs to enable you to achieve true independence.

Without the additional complicated burdens and indulgent wants and needs of everyday life - status, material, money, stress, possessions - one can reach true contentment, freedom and above all, simplicity.

Fasting contributes towards strengthening our focus and pointing us in the right direction to remember the purpose of our being and to restore that balance into our lives.

Good for Health

Fasting is particularly good for our health, too. Many sports enthusiasts use fasting as part of their training regime prior to game days in order to burn unwanted fat and encourage lean muscle growth.

Intermittent fasting and liquid fasting are incredibly popular methods of intending to obtain many goals such as losing weight, improving blood pressure, fitness training, maintaining a healthy mental balance, maintaining a healthy heart, stabilising blood sugar levels, encouraging improved cognitive function, boosting the immune system, increasing metabolism, detoxing the body, suppressing the appetite and so much more.

Gaining Reward

The month of Ramadan is a gift, a privilege from Allah SWT, allowing us the opportunity to repent, attain nearness to our Lord, the chance to promote a better-balanced society and the opportunity to seek countless, immeasurable rewards for our Hereafter.

It is during the last ten nights of this auspicious month that the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to the Holy Prophet PBUH as guidance for all mankind – this is referred to as Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power). This night alone holds the rewards equivalent to that of a thousand months. Subhaan’Allah! This is one of the main reasons as to why many Muslims around the world choose to give to charity during the last ten nights of Ramadan.

Observing Humility

One of the many things fasting does for us is that it makes us appreciate what we have in terms of enjoyment and pleasure. It also teaches us value for the things we have and reminds us that there are those amongst us who do not have these basic privileges. It helps us to recognise the countless blessings Allah SWT has bestowed upon His creation.

When a man’s stomach is empty, he is weak, therefore his desires also become weak. Therefore, fasting is a shield to man’s worldly desires.

All in all, fasting:

-        Encourages practice and obedience in submitting to the will of Allah SWT

-        Reduces the influence of shaytaan (the devil)

-        Attains purification in its full entirety - body, heart, mind and soul

-        Helps you clear your intentions, attain mental clarity and reach spiritual evolution

-        Increases one’s morals and values

-        Is a reminder of what is halal and haram in Islam; prompting us to steer away from those things we have been forbidden from and to walk towards the things that have been encouraged

-        Helps us to obtain simplicity and detach ourselves from the world

-        Affirms solidarity amongst humans; be it family, friends or those in need – overall, encouraging a united, balanced society

-        Allows us to focus on our true purpose in this world

Directing one’s focus on the important elements of your religion is key during Ramadan; timetables are changed to adhere to fasting and prayer times and daily worship is prioritised as opposed to the endeavours of daily life. Ramadan is a well-needed reminder that serves to remind us and guide us on our journey to the Hereafter.

Whatever good deeds you decide to partake in this Ramadan, be it volunteering your time to help those in need, contributing Ramadan donations or practising your deen, we pray that you are rewarded for all your good efforts both today and in the Hereafter. Ameen.