Fasting is the third pillar of Islam. The month of Ramazan,in which fasting is observed, prevents evil tendencies and purifies the soul ofa believer. The Holy Quran says that "The month of Ramzan is that in which theQuran was revealed, guidance to men and clear proofs of guidance anddestinations, therefore, whoever of you witness the coming of this month, heshall fast therein." The fast of Ramzan lasts for one whole month during whicha Muslim restricts himself from drinking, eating, evil talking and listening toill. The fast begins from the daybreak and continues till the Sunset. A Muslimobserving fast must abstain from all vicious actions, such as abusing,back-biting, anger, jealousy, sexual intercourse. The fasting among the Muslimsdoes not mean to remain hungry but to restrain his or her actions from allevils and also to restrain one's eye's, tongue, and ears and all other sensesof the body from lust and passionate activities.
The fasting is obligatory upon every adult Muslim, male andfemale, who is healthy. It is not important to observe for the weak, the sick,the traveler, the student who is in the pursuit of knowledge, the soldierengaged in Jihad against the challengers of faith. It is forbidden on the daysof the two great festivals of Islam, Id-ul-fitr and Id-ul-Azha,(Bukhari 30:66). It is a means of spiritual discipline and the ultimate goal of fastingis to seek penance and Allah's pleasure.According to the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAW), fasting is a shield to protectoneself from all kinds of evils and though food and water are with him, he doesnot take them, because he believes that he has to obey the commandment of Allahand he also believes that Allah is with him and sees him. The spirit offasting is to achieve salvation andspiritual solace and order one's life according to commandments of Allah andProphet (SAW). The 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramzan are imperative for theMuslims, which are confirmed by the Holy Quran and by the Prophet (SAW) .AMuslim can not abandon the imperative fast of the Holy month of Ramzan withoutany genuine reason that too also prescribed under the rules of Sharia'h and incase the fasts are missed due to any reason ,it is a obligatory to observe thosesooner in future. There are also some fasts which our beloved Prophet (SAW)himself observed and as the followers of the Prophet (SAW),we also observethese to follow the Sunnah and attain atonement but it is to mention that theseare not compulsory. Our Prophet (SAW) observed fasts on the 9TH and 10th ofMuharram, on the Arafah, 9th of Zil- Hajj, Ayyam Baid, on the 13th, 14th, and15th of every month. A Muslim can also observe voluntary fasts like six fastsof the month of Shawwal, fast on every Monday and Thursday, fast of 15th ofSha'ban, eight fasts during the first ten days of Zil-Hajj. Fast without breakand continuous is called Saum Wisal, which is considered undesirable.
Ramzan is a sacred month and it is important for everyMuslim to take special care and interest in offering devotions during thismonth which have innumerable rewards from Allah. In addition to obligatoryprayers, one should observe superegatory prayers also. One should recite theHoly Quran constantly in this month and seek Allah's blessings. One should alsooffer gifts and help to the deserving and poor and also take special care ofthe orphans, widows and try to provide them food at Seheri and Iftar. Oneshould also offer Tarawih prayer with humility and devotion. One should alsooffer Sadqah in cash and in terms of things to poor people. The month of Ramzanis really a month of blessings and benefits and it is the Chief of months. Thefirst part of this month is Allah's Mercy, the middle part is His Forgiveness,and the last part is Salvation and release from the fire of Hell. This month isa blessing in the sense also that if a person performs an optional act ofgoodness willingly only to attain Pleasure of Allah, he is entitled to a rewardequal to that of an imperative duty performed in the other months, and if aperson performs an imperative duty in this month, he is entitled to a rewardequal to that of seventy imperative acts performed in other months.(Mishkat)
Fasting is aimed at cleansing the soul and mind of a man. Itincreases the power of resistance and enables a person to submit himself beforethe Will of Allah. It invigorates the conscience of a man and fills it withnoble spirit. It also washes away man's arrogance and makes him humble andteaches sympathy for the hungry. It improves the digestive system of a believerand thus also contributes in improving the health of a believer. Fasting withfull consciousness makes the Iman of a believer firm and strong in Allah'sblessings and kindness, in His promises with regard to the rewards of the lifehereafter and in His knowledge, Wisdom and Justice. The Spirit of fastingelucidates that it should be observed only for the sake of Allah.