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Ramadan: Understanding the purpose of fasting

A religious perspective on the purpose behind the month of Ramadan

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The original wisdom and purpose of fasting is that it is an obligation from the many obligations and a pillar of the true religion.

And the wisdom behind it is that the person who is fasting can achieve true and complete piety. Like Allah has said:

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become pious.” [Quran 2:183]

Piety is a fruit from the fruits of worship, especially while fasting.

An intelligent person will feel the sweetness of piety, feel it deep in his heart, and foster it in his chest, and live it as a reality and apply it practically.

However, most worshipers have changed their perception of Ramadan, many just see it as a time of hunger, deprivation, fatigue and hardship.

Some others look at the month and think of food, drink and entertainment. And men and women spend long hours in preparing and eating a lot of food and become oblivious to the real goals of this month. The real goals are remembering God, praying — including the late night and early morning prayers — reciting the Quran, seeking knowledge, the obligation to help people, honouring one’s parents and maintaining good family relations and other acts of worship.

Some others think of the month of fasting as fun and games, participate in competitions and quizzes, which are called ‘Ramadan’ quizzes but have nothing to do with it. People waste the days and nights of the month in these activities and miss out on better and greater things. Many others watch television programmes and movies and spend time on social media, and the preciousness of this month goes down the drain.

In fact there are many who earn sins and come out of the month having a deficit in their faith instead of its development and increase, and on them is the brunt of sins instead of earning good.

So, it is due on us not to show off. It is due on us to excel constantly and always so that we become from one of those who are good, and that we take advantage of our health, free time and wealth before we reach old age, ill health, get busy or become poor. So blessed is he who is aware of this and makes efforts to achieve it and he who doesn’t stay alert to these things during Ramadan, may Allah forgive him and put his name among the pious and those who are accepted.

— Dr Ali Mashael is the grand mufti at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department.

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