The purpose of fasting in Islam

The purpose of fasting in Islam
Updated 10 July 2014

The purpose of fasting in Islam

The purpose of fasting in Islam

The purpose of fasting is to develop the quality of righteousness (taqwa) by abstaining from sinful deeds and training ourselves to control our desires.
Allah said: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become righteous. (Qur’an, 2:183)
The word, ‘taqwa’ comes from the root meaning, ‘to guard’ and it is variously translated as mindfulness, righteousness, and God-fearing piety. Fasting is meant to instill this virtuous quality within us. In this way, fasting acts as a shield, which protects us from sin and ultimately from the punishment of Allah in the Hereafter.
Uthman ibn Abu Al-Aas reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Fasting is a shield from the Hellfire just like the shield of any of you in battle’.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, 1639)
Therefore, a Muslim must be especially careful to guard himself from all kinds of sin while he is fasting. He should abandon unbeneficial speech and especially argumentation. If anyone tries to argue with him, he should simply respond by saying he is fasting.
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘When one of you awakes in the morning for fasting, then he should not use obscene language or behave ignorantly. If anyone slanders him or tries to argue with him, he should say: Indeed, I am fasting! Indeed, I am fasting’!” (Sahih Muslim)
If a Muslims fails to protect himself from sins and unbeneficial speech while fasting, then his fasting has not achieved its purpose. Allah certainly does not need any one of us to fast, so a Muslim who sins while fasting has nullified the virtue of his fasting.
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Whoever does not give up false speech and evil deeds while fasting, then Allah is not in need of his leaving food and drink.” (Sahih Bukhari)
In addition to abstaining from sin, a Muslim must use the exercise of fasting as a means to develop control of desires. If a Muslim can develop enough will power to abstain from eating and drinking during the day, then this will power will become strong enough to refuse sinful temptations at other times.
Ibn Mas’ud reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘O young men, if you are able to support a wife, then get married. Verily, it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts, but whoever is not able to do so then he has the duty to fast because indeed it is a means of control’.” (Sahih Muslim, 1400)
Thus, fasting is a means of preventing the soul from fulfilling sinful desires and lusts. This quality of self-control is one of the reasons people enter Paradise.
Allah said: “(Those) who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from (unlawful) inclination, Then indeed, Paradise will be (his) refuge.” (Qur’an, 79:40-41)
Likewise, fasting should be a means of developing control of our anger. For this reason, Muslims should not argue or respond to slander while fasting.
Abu Huraira reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘The strong are not the best wrestlers. Verily, the strong are only those who control themselves when they are angry’.” (Sahih Muslim, 2609)
Moreover, fasting is a means for compassion for the poor and gratitude for the favors of Allah.
Abu Huraira reported: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Look to those lower than you, and do not look to those above you, lest you view the favors of Allah as trivial’.” (Sahih Muslim 2963)
The discomfort we feel while fasting should remind us of the suffering of those in poverty who do not enjoy food security or clean water. By reflecting on their situation, this should cause us to give in charity in order to relieve their suffering and to be grateful for the blessings of Allah.
Finally, by fulfilling the purpose of fasting, a Muslim will be rewarded with salvation in the Hereafter, protection from the Hellfire, and entry into Paradise. Every day somewhere a Muslim is emancipated from the Hellfire due to his virtuous fasting.
Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah has people he redeems at the time of breaking fast, and that is during every night.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1643)
We ask Allah Almighty to accept our fasting and instill in us virtues most pleasing to Him.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

Courtesy: faithinallah.org