Importance of self-reform and abstention from base desires
#1. “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil.” (The Holy Quran, 2:183)
#2. Allah says: “And when My servants ask you (O Prophet) about Me, surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should hear My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.” (ibid., 2:186)
#3. “And swallow not up your property among yourselves by false means, nor seek to gain access thereby to the authorities so that you may swallow up other people’s property wrongfully while you know.” (ibid., 2:188)
#4. “He who does not give up uttering falsehood and acting according to it, God has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” (The Holy Prophet Muhammad)
#5. Jesus, who fasted for 40 days said: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:2-4.) Moses also fasted forty days and forty nights (Exodus 34:28).
Purpose of fasting in Islam
#1. To help us develop self-control and strengthen our powers and abstain from evil deeds.
#2. To be closer to God by being aware that He can see all our actions
#3. Fasting also makes us to be more appreciative, as it opens our eyes to the vicissitudes that the poor encounter on a daily basis.
Fasting, in Islam, is not just about abstaining from food, but depriving ourselves from any selfish deeds. It about sacrificing what you enjoy and totally being devoted to Allah. It not just about physical aspects including our bodies, but spiritual aspects as well. The fasting period should take you on a journey and communion with God. Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad or Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, an Indian religious leader and the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam said:
“People are unaware of the true nature of fasting. The fact is that no country or realm can be described if one has not been there. Fasting is not just the state of remaining hungry and thirsty. Its nature and effect can only be discovered by experience. The human makeup is such that the less food is consumed the greater is the purification of the soul and the development of the powers of inner vision. God’s purpose is that you should reduce one kind of food (physical) and increase the other kind (spiritual). The person fasting must remember that the aim is not simply to remain hungry; he should be engrossed in the remembrance of God so as to attain severance from worldly desires. The object of fasting is that a person should abstain from the food which nourishes the body and obtain the other food which satisfies and brings solace to the soul. Those who truly fast for the sake of attaining to God, and not merely as a custom, should be absorbed in the praise and glorification of God, and in meditating upon His Unity.”
Maulana Muhammad Ali said:
“The real purpose of fasting is to attain righteousness. A person who undergoes hunger and thirst, but does not behave righteously, has done nothing. If someone is told the aim and object of doing a certain duty, and he does that duty but does not attain the required aim and object, it is as if he has not done that duty.”
“You have to rise early in any case to begin the fast; rise even earlier, by half an hour or an hour, and say tahajjud prayers.”