Every year in the month of Ramada-n, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown–abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations with their spouses. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year if they are healthy and able. Children begin to fast (and to observe prayers) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although fasting is beneficial to health, it is mainly a method of self-purification and self-restraint. By cutting oneself from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person focuses on his or her purpose in life by constantly being aware of the presence of God. God states in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self-restraint.” (Qur’an 2:183)
Forgetfulness while fasting: The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him) has said: “if some mistakenly eats while fasting he should complete his fast till the evening because surely ALLAH made him eat and drink” (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Saum).
Importance of eating breakfast: Anas relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Take breakfast before the fast begins; there is blessing in breakfast” (Bokhari and Muslim), Zaid ibn Thabit relates: We ate breakfast during Ramadhan with the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him said: “The difference between our observance of the fast and that of the People of the Book is eating of breakfast” (Muslim)
Etiquettes of Sehri (food taken at dawn): Sehri is a blessed meal. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him) has said: “This is truly a blessing. One strengthens in oneself the habit of getting up early in the morning and to worship ALLAH and one can offer humble prayers to Him.” The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him) also said: “Eat Sehri as there are blessings in eating Sehri” (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Saum).
At time of Iftar (opening the Fast): There are some times during the day that are more helpful and assist in prayers being answered, ALLAH accepts more prayers when the fast is opened. In one saying the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him) has reported to have said: “No prayer is rejected at the time of the opening of the fast that is offered by someone who has been fasting” (Sunan Ibn Maja, Al-Abwab Al-Dawat).
Rewards of Fasting
Every act of goodness is rewarded. Rewards are given based on the sincerity of the intention. Fasting is the only worship about which ALLAH has said that He Himself is the reward for it. This means that one develops such a close relationship with ALLAH that ALLAH Himself becomes the helper.
Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “ALLAH, the Lord of Honor and glory says: All other deeds of man are for himself, but his fasting is purely for Me and I shall reward him for it. The fast is a shield. When any of you is fasting he should abstain from loose talk and noisy exchanges. Should anyone revile him or seek to pick a quarrel with him, he should respond with: I am observing a fast. By Him in Whose hands is the life of Muhammad, the breath of one who is fasting is purer in the sight of ALLAH than the fragrance of musk. One who fasts experiences two joys: he is joyful when he breaks his fast, and he is joyful by virtue of his fast when he meets his Lord” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Sa’ad ibn Sahl relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “There is a gate of Paradise called Rayyan through which only those will enter on the Day of Judgment who are regular in observing the fast and no one else. A call will go forth: Where are those who observed the fast regularly? And they will step forth and no one beside them will enter through that gate. After they shall have entered, the gate will be closed and no one else will enter thereby” (Bokhari and Muslim).
Abu Sa’id Khudri relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “When a servant of ALLAH observes the fast for a day for the sake of ALLAH, He thereby repels the Fire from him a distance of seventy years of journeying” (Bokhari and Muslim).
Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “He who observes the fast during Ramadhan out of sincerity of faith and in hope of earning merit will have his past sins forgiven him” (Bokhari and Muslim).
Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “When Ramadhan arrives the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and satans are put in chains” (Bokhari and Muslim).
The Holy Quran on fasting:
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.
“The prescribed fasting is for a fixed number of days, but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days; and of those who are able to fast only with great difficulty is an expiation – the feeding of a poor man. And whoso performs a good work with willing obedience, it is better for him. And fasting is good for you, if you only knew.
“The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and discrimination. Therefore, whosoever of you is present at home in this month, let him fast therein. But whoso is sick or is on a journey, shall fast the same number of other days. ALLAH desires to give you facility and He desires not hardship for you, and that you me complete the number, and that you may exalt ALLAH
for His having guided you and that you may be grateful.
“And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.
“It is made lawful for you to go in unto your wives on the night of the fast. They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them. ALLAH knows that you have been acting unjustly to yourselves, wherefore He has turned to you with mercy and afforded you relief. So you may now go in unto them and seek what ALLAH has ordained for you; and eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then complete the fa
st till nightfall and do not go in unto them while you remain in the Mosques for devotion. These are the limits fixed by ALLAH, so approach them not. Thus ALLAH make His commandments clear to men that they become secure against all evil.” (2:183-187)