Why Do We Fast ?
Praise be to
Firstly we must
note that one of the names of Allaah is al-Hakeem (the Most Wise).
The word Hakeem is derived from the same root as hukm (ruling) and
hikmah (wisdom). Allaah alone is the One Who issues rulings, and
His rulings are the most wise and perfect.
does not prescribe any ruling but there is great wisdom behind it,
which we may understand, or our minds may not be guided to understand
it. We may know some of it but a great deal is hidden from us.
has mentioned the reason and wisdom behind His enjoining of fasting
upon us, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you
as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon
(the pious) [al-Baqarah 2:183]
Fasting is a
means of attaining taqwa (piety, being conscious of Allaah), and
taqwa means doing that which Allaah has enjoined and avoiding that
which He has forbidden.
Fasting is one
of the greatest means of helping a person to fulfil the commands
(may Allaah have mercy on them) have mentioned some of the reasons
why fasting is prescribed, all of which are characteristics of taqwa,
but there is nothing wrong with quoting them here, to draw the attention
of fasting people to them and make them keen to attain them.
Among the reasons
behind fasting are:
is a means that makes us appreciate and give thanks for pleasures.
For fasting means giving up eating, drinking and intercourse, which
are among the greatest pleasures. By giving them up for a short
time, we begin to appreciate their value. Because the blessings
of Allaah are not recognized, but when you abstain from them, you
begin to recognize them, so this motivates you to be grateful for
is a means of giving up haraam things, because if a person can give
up halaal things in order to please Allaah and for fear of His painful
torment, then he will be more likely to refrain from haraam things.
So fasting is a means of avoiding the things that Allaah has forbidden.
enables us to control our desires, because when a person is full
his desires grow, but if he is hungry then his desire becomes weak.
Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
O young men! Whoever among you can afford to get married,
let him do so, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and
protecting ones chastity. Whoever cannot do that, let him
fast, for it will be a shield for him.
makes us feel compassion and empathy towards the poor, because when
the fasting person tastes the pain of hunger for a while, he remembers
those who are in this situation all the time, so he will hasten
to do acts of kindness to them and show compassion towards them.
So fasting is a means of feeling empathy with the poor.
humiliates and weakens the Shaytaan; it weakens the effects of his
whispers (waswaas) on a person and reduces his sins. That is because
the Shaytaan flows through the son of Adam like blood
as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
but fasting narrows the passages through which the Shaytaan flows,
so his influence grows less.
said in Majmoo al-Fataawa, 25/246
blood is created from food and drink, so when a person eats and
drinks, the passages through which the devils flow which
is the blood become wide. But if a person fasts, the passages
through which the devils flow become narrow, so hearts are motivated
to do good deeds, and to give up evil deeds.
fasting person is training himself to remember that Allaah is always
watching, so he gives up the things that he desires even though
he is able to take them, because he knows that Allaah can see him.
means developing an attitude of asceticism towards this world and
its desires, and seeking that which is with Allaah.
makes the Muslim get used to doing a great deal of acts of worship,
because the fasting person usually does more acts of worship and
gets used to that.
These are some
of the reasons why fasting is enjoined. We ask Allaah to help us
to achieve them and to worship Him properly.
And Allaah knows
al-Sadi, p. 116; Ibn al-Qayyims footnotes on al-Rawd
al-Murabba, 3/344; al-Mawsooah al-Fiqhiyyah, 28/9.