The Islamic Sharia does not address itself only to the physical etiquette of fasting; it also pays full attention to its real aim and spirit. It has made unlawful not only eating, drinking, and sexual relationship during the period of fasting, but has also forbidden the believers from all such things which defeat the noble aims of fasting and destroy its spiritual and moral benefits. It has circumscribed fasting with discipline, piety, cleanliness and sincerity of heart and tongue. The act of fasting, if devoid of sincerity and piety, is like a form without reality, a body without soul. The Prophet of Allah, Hazrat Mohammad, blessings and peace be on him, once emphasised this point in these words: “There are many fasting people who do not earn from their fast anything except thirst, as there are devotees who do not get from their nocturnal prayers (Tahajjud) anything except vigil at night” (Bukhari).
A Muslim has to safeguard the form as well as the spirit of fasting. Fasting in Islam is not merely a command forbidding Muslims from eating and drinking, quarrelling and cursing; it also encourages Muslims in a truly positive vein to learn to live a virtuous life. Ramadan is, therefore, the most suitable time for engaging oneself in good deeds, such as prayers and recitation of the Koran, remembrance and glorification of Allah, and sympathising with and helping the needy and the poor.
The Prophet of Allah, blessings and peace be on him, has said: “If a person tries to win Allah's pleasure with a virtuous deed in it (Ramadan), his deed will be considered equal to an obligatory deed (Fard) performed in days other than Ramadan. And if a person performs an obligatory deed in this month, his deed will be equal to an obligatory deed performed in days other than Ramadan. And if a person performs an obligatory deeds in this month, his deed will be equal to seventy such obligatory deeds performed in days other than Ramadan. This is the month of patience and the reward of patience is Paradise. This is the month of sympathy.”
Prof. Mohsin Usmani
Dean, School of Middle East and African Studies
EFL University, Hyderabad