Fasting in the month of Ramadan, like Namaaz (prayers) is a divine command. Allah says in the Holy Quran, "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil)." (2:183)
It was reserved for Islam to formulate and perfect a form of spiritual purification for every one of its followers, notwithstanding the state of society they belonged to, and which could be performed without interfering with their normal avocations and callings in every day life.
Whatever calling or vocation he is engaged in, does not hinder a Muslim from carrying out this annual requirement of the Faith, the fast of this month of Ramadan, which incidentally, is also one of the five cardinal points of Islamic tenet.
The Muslim fast means a complete abstention from eating or drinking between daybreak and sunset. The sighting of the thin sickle of the new moon of Ramadan heralds for the Muslim the beginning of a month of glory and of spiritual elevation, when, at Allah's command, he voluntarily and of his own free will, denies himself between day-break and sunset, the blessing of food and drink, and surrenders himself up wholly to Allah, observing the same abstention throughout the whole month in his thoughts, his speech, his behavior, his every act.
For this month, for the Muslim, means the triumph of the spiritual and the pure in his nature over all the grossness and carnation, which is an inevitable component of our human make-up. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the following words beautifully explains the actual significance of the fast: -
"One who, while fasting, does not guard his tongue from telling lies, does not refrain from doing bad deeds, is not respecting his fast and Allah does not approve of mere abstention from food". When you are keeping fast, you should not speak ill of anybody, nor should you be boisterous and noisy. If anybody speaks ill of you or tries to pick a quarrel with you return him not, but say unto him that you are fasting.
Divine Revelation: Ramadan however, has another deeper significance for the Muslim, Ramadan's greatness is manifest in the fact that Almighty Allah chose it for the revelation of His Scriptures from time to time.
Abraham [Ibrahim (A.S.)] received scriptures on the first or third of Ramadan, David [Dawood (A.S.)] on the twelfth or the eighteenth, Moses [Musa (A.S.)] on the sixth, and Jesus [Esa (A.S.)] on the twelfth or the thirteenth of Ramadan.
It was in the very month of Ramadan that the Holy Quran, the last revealed Book, started descending upon Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It testifies: (Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Quran as a guide to mankind ...) (2:185)
But the Holy Quran, the divine revelation from Allah to mankind through the medium of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), has remained. In every Ramadan the Muslims celebrate the spiritual significance of that divine fact the eternal abiding permanence of the Holy Quran.
During this Holy month therefore, the Muslim takes himself more assiduously to the reading of the Holy Book of Allah, the standing miracle of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the miracle which he stated would remain to testify to the authenticity of Allah's message even after he, Muhammad (S.A.W.) passed away.
Throughout this holy month, therefore, from every Muslim home is heard, during the day and night, the pleasant and beautiful cadences of Quranic recitation.
Then there is the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) saying as an incentive to renewed reading of the Holy Quran especially in this month: "A man gets the same reward by reading one verse of the Holy Quran as others do by reading the whole of the Holy Quran in other months." In this holy month of Ramadan it should be the duty of every Muslim to read the Holy Quran and thereby gain an insight into the Divine secrets. It breathes peaceful spirit to the human body. It imparts purity to the human soul and removes many a curtain hanging between man and God.
As the month of Ramadan is a specified period of purification, so the Holy Quran must carefully be studied by every devotee of Islam for self-guidance. Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth and the Holy Quran a light for the seekers of truth. It wards off the evil effect of unhealthy atmosphere, it sanctifies the cause of the fast and keeps the true believer in direct communion with Allah, and it does but speaks His own words.
Only constant experience can tell the tremendous amount of pleasure one finds in reading the Holy Quran.
"Say. Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds" (Surah Al-Anaam, 6:162) - like a beacon of hope for the faithful, these heartening words occur in the Holy Quran to strengthen the hearts of the believing Muslim in the realness of their whole-hearted surrender to Allah (SWT).
What has the believing Muslim to fear after reading this clear promise by Allah of His nearness to His servants, not only throughout this life but also in the hereafter?
In the holy month of Ramadan, especially, this promise of Allah's has a particular significance for the believing Muslim who dedicates his prayers and his sacrifices (in the form of his fasts) up to Allah, the Lord of Creation.