“Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you as it was enjoined upon those before you, that you become God-fearing.”
(Al-Qur’ān – 2:183)
There are three facts about fasting: one, that Allah enjoins the believers to fast in Ramadhan; two, that fasting had been enjoined upon the earlier peoples as well; and three, that the real intent of fasting is attainment of piety.
Fasting in Ramadhan is obligatory, not optional. Each and every Muslim man and woman must fast during this month if he/she is adult, sane and physically well. It had been an essential obligation for the followers of earlier Prophets. The Bible says Christ fasted for 40 days (Mathew 4:1-4, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-4). In Peter2:21the followers of Christ are enjoined to fast as the Prophet did. Even the Vedas and the Puranas prescribe fasting. Thus the peoples of earlier religions fasted but with a difference in the number of days and the prescribed time of fasting.
Fasting is one of the main sources of inculcating and nurturing piety.
The believers abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk. These things otherwise permissible become impermissible for a certain period of time. This exercise enables them to abstain from what has been forbidden by the Shari’ah, the worldly temptations notwithstanding. This is the crux of piety. If a person who fasts does so with the fear of God lurking in his mind, thought and action that he is to present himself before the Almighty one day and account for all his acts of omission and commission, he attains piety.