With Allah’s name The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful Redeemer.
The Social Value of Fasting
By Imam Omar Hazim
The institution of fasting in Islam came after the institution of prayer. Fasting was mad obligatory and the month of Ramadan was set apart for this purpose. This was in the second year of the Hirjah (the second year of the Islamic calendar). Before that time, the Muslims would follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in fasting as an optional devotion on various days or occasions throughout the year.
The love for God should be the true incentive for all devotional acts.
Fasting became a universal establishment with this revealed verse:
Holy Qur’an II: 183:
“ O you believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.”
The true object of fasting is to increase a higher level of God consciousness in the faster. It is very important for us to encourage the positive emotions as dominating forces of our mind and discourage and eliminate the negative emotions; fasting helps this process.
Fasting is not just for times of sorrow or affliction, but like prayers, it’s for the development of the inner faculties of the human being. The above verse points to the fact that before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), fasting was prescribed for the communities of revealed religions. In past history the mode and forms of fasting have varied considerably according to climate, civilization and other circumstances; however, it would be
difficult to name any religious system that does not recognize fasting.
In addition to its spiritual and moral values, fasting, as prescribed in the Qur’an, has also a community and social value. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is a historical mass movement toward equality, which is not limited to one city or even one country, but affects the entire Muslim world, over 1 billion people.
The rich and poor, the great and small, are brought together more often in Ramadan at the various Mosques and Islamic Centers throughout the world than in any other time, standing together shoulder to shoulder in prayer.
Those who are used to eating three or four times a day begin to feel hunger, and this awakens sympathy for the needy in the hearts of the rich, and it is for this reason, helping the less fortunate is especially encouraged in this month. We socialize with each other more and this promotes brotherhood and sisterhood among us.
One of the lessons of fasting: One should be prepared to suffer hardships rather than indulge in that which is not lawfully permitted to him or her. That lesson is experienced from day to day for 30 days. Just as a physical exercise strengthens one physically, moral exercise through fasting strengthens the moral side of one’s life and moral strength helps a person to control his or her physical desires.