During this Ramadhan do not let the sweetness of our deeds vanish into the night, leaving only emptiness. When one contemplates the texts on fasting, its wisdom, and goals in Shariah, and looks at the reality of the Muslim communities, one realizes a wide gap between reality and our obligations.
Remember that Ramadhan is a bounty that Allah blessed His servants with, to strengthen their faith, and increase their piety (Taqwa). Allah said: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183).
This article is an attempt to present the essential causes of this gap and to some remedies. the primary reason for the gap is ignorance about the goals of fasting and the wisdom behind it. Many Muslims ignore the purpose and wisdom of fasting. Fasting is done merely to conform to the social environment without contemplation. If one is not aware of the divine wisdom of Shariah and its fruits in this world and in the hereafter, one will not apply it in the right way.
Goals of Fasting
Achieving Taqwa: is one of the most important wisdom of fasting. Fasting brings on Taqwa as it lessens the desire of the stomach and mutes the sexual appetite. Whoever fasts frequently would overcome these two desires more easily. This deters against committing abominations and sins and assist in controlling life leading to Taqwa.
Strengthening willpower and acquiring patience: The Prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam called Ramadhan
the month of patience as it increases one’s will power to control his desire and the selfishness of his soul. This training allows him to be strong in following Allah’s commands. The most important being to carry the Message and propel it forward. The person trains himself to be patient in obeying Allah by stopping at the limits set by Allah both by way of action and abstention. Allah said: “These are the limits set by Allah, so approach them not.” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)
Fasting is pure worship: The fact that he is abstaining from food and drink both in public and in secret shows his honest faith and strong love of Allah, and his knowledge and feeling that Allah is all-knowing of everything. For this reason, Allah has made the reward for fasting greater than for any other type of worship.
Allah said in the hadith Qudsi: “Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied [in rewards], the good deed by ten of its like, up to seven hundred, up to whatever Allah wills, except fasting, it is for Me and I will reward it. He abandons his desire and his food for My sake..”
(Related by Muslim)
ibn al-Qayyim said: “…And people may see that a person is not eating in front of them, but the fact that he is really abandoning his food and his desire for the sake of God is a thing that nobody can find out about, and that is the essence of fasting.” (Zaad al-Ma’ad 2/29).
Relieving Muslims from life’s distractions: Eating, drinking and socializing all distract a person and weaken ties with Allah. It is by the Mercy of Allah that Muslims are ordered to fast so as not to be bothered by the intrusion of these activities. Nor by the thought about them nor the anticipation for them when devoting themselves to all types of worship Either reading the Qur’an, offering additional prayer, or making I’tikaf. For this reason, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “Fasting is a shield and a secure fortress against Hellfire”
(Related by Ahmad).
Discovering Allah’s Blessings: A person experiences the hardship of the poor. He should then be thankful to Allah Who has blessed him with His bounty while others are deprived. This should make him more sympathetic and willing to share this bounty. The poor rediscovers that fasting helps a person be more devoted to worship. More able to concentrate and meditate. He should then be able of this devotion all year long, a blessing he should thank Allah for.
Acquiring strength and endurance: It has been discovered that depriving the body of food for a period of time helps its defense and endurance mechanism. This in turn this protects the body from certain diseases.