With Ramadan 2019 well and truly here, Muslims around the world are fasting – refraining from sustenance from dawn till sunset while glorifying Allah by worshipping Him. In this holiest time of the year, according to Islam, all Muslims adults who are mentally as well as physically healthy observe fasts for a period of 4 weeks. They begin their fast by eating a meal called Sehri before dawn and then break their fast at sunset with another meal called iftar.
However, why do Muslims fast, in the first place? What do they hope to gain by abstaining from food throughout the day? Here are the answers to these frequently asked questions:
Pillar of Islam
Muslims fast, first and foremost, because it is obligatory. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam that are the cornerstone of their beloved religion and framework of their lives. Without fasting, their faith would be incomplete, and they simply cannot call themselves Muslims. Note that Muslims, such as the elderly, the pregnant or the ones who are not healthy enough are exempted from fasting.
Mercy, Forgiveness, and Protection
Muslims also fast during Ramadan in order to benefit from the blessings of Allah – the most beneficent and merciful – seek His forgiveness, and protect themselves from the hellfire. The three Ashras or in other words stages of Ramadan are as follows: the first one is Mercy of Allah (Rehmah); the second one is Forgiveness of Allah (Maghfirah); the third one is Safety from the Hell (Nijat). Given that each good deed is handsomely rewarded in Ramadan, Muslims have the precious opportunity of making the most of the month to not only atone for their sins but also to seek blessings.
Another main reason due to which Muslims fast is because it helps them better connect with Allah. Fasting, in addition to five daily prayers, steady worship, constant remembrance, sacrifice, and deep reflection aids Muslims in refreshing their mind, body as well as soul. It purifies them and allows them to grow for the better by reaffirming their spiritual connection.
Abandon the Materialistic Approach and Understand What Matters
Fasting also helps Muslims identify with their true selves by realizing their frailties as well as complete dependence on Allah. It eliminates the material desires in the mind of the Muslims and helps them understand what’s truly important.
Finally, fasting leads to unity and socio-economic development. This is because Muslims who fast and bear the difficulties of controlling their appetite by staying hungry as well thirsty understand what’s it like for the needy as well as poor on a daily basis. This, in turn, encourages compassion and teaches everyone to be kind to others. Hence, Muslims give as much charity to the underprivileged as possible and feed the hungry in their own societies and even outside.
You surely would have noticed the grand iftars in mosques and homes where everyone comes together to break their fasts. Muslims also donate to external organizations such as Syria Relief and support Marinade for Syria – a movement to feed the oppressed people fasting in Syria in addition to other organizations.
So, there you have it — the reasons why Muslims fast in Ramadan.