The Purpose of Fasting during Ramadhan: Striving for God Consciousness
Fasting was not only prescribed to Muslims (adherents of the Quran) but was also prescribed to nations before the revelation to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This was to enable them to be of the 'tattaqun'.
"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint (Arabic: Tattaqun)" [2:183]
The Arabic word 'Tattaqun' is derived from its root Waw-Qaf-Ya and means to preserve, to guard against evil, to show self-restraint and to observe Divine commands in one's life. The root forms common Arabic words such as ‘taqwa’. The reason for fasting is made clear in this verse as to enable one to be of those that show self-restraint and guard against evil.
However, it was the initiation of revelation (Quran) on a blessed night (Night of Decree 97:1) in the month of Ramadan (2:185) which was the reason why fasting was prescribed in this particular month. The Quran was revealed as a blessed guidance and a mercy from God to His creation in which He imparted truth, judgement and the balance (meezan). The Quran invites one to ‘taqwa’ and complete devotion to the Only One True God of the Universe. The Quran as a complete message is an open invitation to 'taqwa' and submission to His will. Here we invariably note the link with fasting and why fasting has been prescribed in this particular month so that we may also give thanks for His guidance.
"The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear proofs for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So whoever witnesses this month amongst you, then he should fast in it and whoever is sick or on a journey then a prescribed number from other days. God desires ease for you, and He does not desire difficulty for you, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of God for His having guided you and that you may give thanks" [2:185]
One is to fast in the month of Ramadhan (2:185) offering much devotion (2:187) throughout it. Spiritual and mental devotion to God and His words are an ongoing endeavour and should not only be restricted just to the month of Ramadhan but should be a practiced throughout the year. (17:78; 73:1-8)
There are simply no 'shortcuts' to salvation. An individual's endeavour should remain consistent and one which strives with patience.
“And We shall try you until We make evident those who strive among you and persevere in patience; and We shall test your affairs”[47.31]
And Allah knows best.
Edited from article Laytul Qadr at Quransmessage.com
For Younger Readers
God teaches in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims that:
- The reason for fasting is to learn to be better person - honest, truthful, just, trustworthy, kind, patient...
- To be thankful for God's guidance