Moses was ordered to fast for forty days and forty nights before he was given the Torah. Jesus, in spite of being special from birth, kept fast on the mountain for forty days, before he was able to overpower Satan. And the previous messengers, all kept fast upon the command of the Lord. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why Allah says to Muslims in the Holy Qur’an, that fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you.
Allah made fasting easy for Muslims. They do not have to fast for forty days and nights, nor do they have to go on the hilltops to do so. They keep the fast from dawn to dusk in the lunar month of Ramadan, in their homes and may get the same type of religious experience during the Night of Power. Allah says that: He desires ease for us and He does not desire to put us into any type of difficulties. (Qur’an, 2:185)
But why did Allah make fasting in the month of Ramadan a principle of faith for the Muslims?
Fasting in this month benefits the person in two ways, viz. it enables him to ascend closer to his Lord; and it makes him a better unit in society.
During the month of Ramadan the Muslim engages himself in abstinence during the day from dawn to dusk, engages in extra acts of worship, spends more time reading the Holy Qur’an, (the unadulterated Word of Allah); becomes more generous to the poor and the needy; and stays God conscious all the time. As a result he feels that he is living in the presence of the Divine. Allah out of His mercies sends the Angels to visit the believers during the “night of Power” an experience which a lot of people cherish.
Fasting enables a person to develop a better relationship with others in the society, as, one is prohibited from ill-speaking, responding negatively, becoming irritable, or doing anything that will harm others. And when emotionally challenged he is required to say: I am fasting.
A Muslim knows that back-biting, etc will render his fast null and void.
It is because fasting brings out the moral and spiritual good in a person that Allah says: If you fast it is better for you. Because Muslims feel better about themselves regarding their moral, spiritual and social development at the end of Ramadan, Eid becomes a day of celebration and thankfulness to the Lord for His Favours they received during the Blessed month.
A Muslim is supposed to use the experience of Ramadan as a milestone in his moral and spiritual growth. He has to always keep in mind what Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is reported to have said: Faith increases or decreases. As a result, in order to preserve the blessings of Ramadan, he needs to take note that he should not cover Truth with falsehood, as that will spoil his relation with his Maker.
Ramadan is therefore designed to strengthen the bond of relation between a person and his Lord on one hand, and between a person and his friends, relatives and neighbours on the other.
May Allah bless all those who kept the fast with good in this world and in the Next.