The Purpose of Fasting

Bismillah.

What is the purpose of fasting?

As Muslims, we believe that God Almighty is fully aware of what we do, what we think, what we conceal and what we reveal. Moreover, we also believe that every person – regardless of their race, gender or ethnicity – will be reborn after their death to be held accountable for what they did in this life. And based on what they do, they will either be rewarded with paradise out of God Almighty’s mercy, or banished to hellfire.

So, fasting is not something that we do because our parents said so. Think about it, can’t we eat and drink something when no one is looking? Of course we can. So why don’t we do this? Because we know, that God Almighty is fully aware of what we do. And we also know, that God Almighty will resurrect us – each and every one of us – and hold us accountable for our actions.

This sense of God-consciousness is present in each human (whether its suppressed and hidden within themselves is a different issue) and that is why we fast, so that we can cultivate and develop this sense of consciousness of God Almighty and draw closer to Him.

What is fasting?

Fasting in English means to abstain from food or to eat very little. However, Islamically fasting is abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn to sunset.

How long do Muslims fast?

For a month. That month is called the month of Ramadan of the lunar calendar.

Who is supposed to fast?

Every sane, adult Muslim. If you’re sick, or traveling, then you need to make up your fasts that you missed.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the month in which the Quran – which is a guidance for mankind and the Criterion of what’s right and what’s wrong – was revealed by God Almighty. It is also the month in which Muslims fast.

Isn’t not eating/drinking unhealthy?

No, the objective of fasting is not to make a person sick or put their body under stress. As mentioned above, if a person is sick or traveling they can opt-out of fasting. God Almighty does not intend difficulty for those who He created, He intends for them ease. However, He requires that a set number of fasts be completed in the month of Ramadan, so that we may magnify and glorify God Almighty for guidance and clarity, and also so that we may become thankful for His favors that we enjoy on a daily basis.

What else is done in Ramadan?

God Almighty says, “When My creation asks about Me, tell them that I am very close to them. I listen to them when they communicate with Me. So, let them listen to Me and believe in Me so that they can be fully successful.”

So, one of the most important things that anyone should do – at any time, but particularly in Ramadan – is to communicate with God Almighty. Just pray to God Almighty – the One True God, not any idols or humans – and ask Him to guide you in your life, to grant you what is best for you and to give you the ability to recognize Him through His creation.

You mentioned that sexual relations are not allowed in Ramadan. Please elaborate more on this.

Sexual relations with between spouses are allowed during the nights in Ramadan. This is because a wife is a garment for a husband, and a husband is a garment for a wife: they hide each other’s faults, they beautify each other and they protect each other. This is how Islam views marriage. So, during the nights the spouses can engage in sexual pleasure, seeking chastity, fulfillment and children that have been pre-ordained for them.

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