The purpose of fasting is to develop the quality of righteousness [taqwa], inwardly and outwardly by abstaining from sinful deeds and training ourselves to control our thoughts and desires. Fasting is a deeply spiritual practice that is meant to benefit us in body, mind and soul. It equips man with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life because when a person fast, he is hoping to please Almighty Allah and is seeking His Grace. It imbues man with a genuine virtue of effective Devotion, honest and Dedication and closeness to Almighty Allah because when he fast he does so for Almighty Allah alone. It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience because the fasting person keeps his fast in secret and as well as in public. In fasting, especially, there is no mundane authority to check man`s behaviour or compel him to observe the fasting, he keeps it to please Almighty Allah and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public.

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may become righteous” al-Baqarah 2:183

The word taqwa comes from the root meaning “to guard” and it is variously meant to instil this virtuous quality within us and its associated virtues of good character, generosity, forbearance, purity of heart and so on. In this way, fasting acts as a shield which protects us from sin and ultimately from the punishment of Almighty Allah in the Hereafter. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Fasting is a shield from the Hellfire just like the shield of any of you in battle” [SunanibnMajah 1639] There are three levels of fasting that correspond to its inward and outward components: abstaining from food and drink, abstaining from sins, and abstaining from bad thoughts: the fasting of the common people, the fasting of the elite, and the fasting of the elite of the elite. As for the fasting of the common people, it is restraining the stomach from fulfilling its desires as has been mentioned. As for the fasting of the elite, it is restraining one`s hearing, sight, tongue, hands, feet and all the limbs from sin. As for the fasting of the elite of the elite, it is the fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts and to restrain it entirely from everything besides Almighty Allah, the Exalted. Hence we must be especially careful to guard ourselves from all kinds of sin while we are fasting. We should abandon unbeneficial speech and specifically arguing with others. If anyone tries to argue with us while we are fasting, we should simply respond by saying we are fasting. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “When one of you awakes in the morning for fasting, then he should not use obscene language or behave ignorantly. If anyone slanders him or tries to argue with him, he should say: Indeed I am fasting.” [Sahih Muslim 1151]

Saying this is as much as a reminder to us as it is to others. When we are tempted to commit sins or engage in bad thoughts while fasting, we should remind ourselves that we are fasting and change our thinking towards something good and beneficial. If we do not abstain from bad words while fasting as well as sins and bad inward statements, then our fasting has not achieved one of its most important purposes. Almighty Allah certainly does not need any of us to fast, so we must remember that which benefits our fasting might be nullified by these sins.

The fast of Ramadhan helps the Muslims to be aware of their unity. At the sighting of the new moon the whole Muslim world enters into the spiritual discipline of fasting. Mutual awareness and mutual sympathy between Muslims increases. We try doing more acts of charity towards each other. We bear in mind the back-biting gossip, quarrelling and so on can take away the spiritual benefits and rewards of our fasting.