Goal of Fasting
Fasting is worship and it draws us closer to Allah. Allah has prescribed it to purify our soul so that we are trained in good deeds and self-scrutiny. Hence, fasting means a temporary vacation from various forms of worldly enjoyment, including eating, drinking, sexual desires, shameless gazing, haram income, activities and places. By self-scrutiny we learn to be conscious of our every act because we consciously avoid all that may negate our fast. This attribute is contained in the goal of fasting for Allah says, “… that you may (learn) self-restraint.” (Qur’an 2 verse 183)
The goal of fasting is not hardship by debarring us from culinary and sexual pleasure, but it is self-discipline and self-control, thus it includes the prohibition of verbal promiscuity. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting is not [abstaining] from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language.” (Muslim) In addition, it is a means of spiritual, physical, psychological and mental purification. It is a form of jihad nafsi (the Jihad against the selfish, materialist and mundane soul). Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “Allah said, ‘all the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.‘ FASTING IS A SHIELD OR PROTECTION FROM THE FIRE AND FROM COMMITTING SINS. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’…” (Bukhari)
The fasting person must be on guard against any act that may cause him to lose the benefits of his fast. Thus, his fast will increase his God-consciousness, and Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you perchance you may attain God consciousness.” (Qur’an 2 verse 183) God Consciousness is also derived from other acts which we are encouraged to undertake while fasting. The first is unshaken faith in Allah and complete trust in His promises. The Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever observed fast imbued with faith and with the expectation of reward from Allah, all his past sins are forgiven”.
Fasting helps us to experience the realities of the poor and needy. This induces in us a moderate and considerate lifestyle, and a compassionate relationship evolves. We are then moved to help. Therefore we are encouraged to provide others with the means of breaking their fast (iftar) and engaged in the acts of sadaqah (charity) more in Ramadan. Ultimately, we want to seek the long time solution: the ability of the poor and needy to sustain themselves.
Thus is the goal for which Allah has dedicated this month. This is the goal which the over one billion Muslims would be striving to achieve this month. How many will really score, how many would have achieved their aims with this Ramadan. Now that you know what the goal of Ramadan is, what targets have you set for yourself and how do you intend to achieve them?