Islam and the Quran

Why do we fast?

Question: It is said that the virtue of fasting is to understand the situation of the poor. Can you explain its virtues that are mentioned in the Quran? It shouldn’t be that simple. What is the purpose of God by commanding human beings to fast? I do not think that a whole month of fast is just to understand the poor better.

The Almighty God explains the purpose of fasting in verse 183 of Chapter Baqarah as follows:

“Oh, you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you in the way that was prescribed for the ones before you, so that you may protect yourselves.” (2:183)

Fasting people abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse only to obey the command of God and to gain His approval. This increases their motivation for protecting themselves against probable sins.

Fasting also maintains a person’s health, teaches patience, discipline and the value of God’s blessings as it lets the person know what it is like to be hungry.

There are many more virtues in fasting. Discovering them requires a team work with experts. For example, no one knows the wisdom in the prohibition of interest better than economists. The benefits of fasting can be best discovered by the cooperation of experts in medicine, psychology and sociology. It is also known that fasting has been practiced as a treatment for various health conditions by health professionals from different cultures throughout the history.

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