Fasting is observed in all religions, in one form or the other. Mahatma Gandhi used it as a powerful tool in his fight against injustice and violence. Muslims are enjoined to observe fast in the month of Ramadan. From dawn to sunset they are not allowed to take any food or drink and are also advised to abstain from sexual relationships. About fasting, Quran says, “Believers, fasting has been prescribed for you just as it was prescribed for those before you, for that you may guard against evils.” (2:183) Quran also gives reasons for choosing the lunar month of Ramadan. It was in Ramadan that Quran was sent out for guidance of mankind, with clear criteria by which to distinguish right from the wrong. Quran says, “Whoever of you is present in the month, let him fast.”
The aim of fasting is to keep each individual away from temptations and evils and thus purify his/her soul and thus elevate him/her to the highest pinnacle of Bliss. Prophet warned, “Unless you abstain from sinful words and wrong deeds, God has no intention that you give up food and drink.” That means, mere starvation is of no use and will not yield any reward from God. Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and all other mother religions prescribe fasting as an effective instrument to purify the soul and prevent one from committing sins. This is clear indication of their connection to the divine Source.
Believers consider that Quran is a revelation from God and is guidance to humanity. The first revelation came in the month of Ramadan, while the prophet was in meditation in the cave of ‘Hira’ in Mecca. It took 23 years for the completion of the revelations. Prophet’s flight from Mecca to Medina was at the age of 53. The verses revealed at Mecca are called the ‘Meccan Surahs’. It gave guidance to individuals through the prophet as a warner. The guidance he and his companions needed after the migration was not the same. In the political and social community of Medina, the prophet had to function as law giver and reformer. After a month’s fasting, the believers were ordained to celebrate Eidul-Fitr, as mark of thankfulness to God. That is the first day of the next month of Shawwal.
If we all live according to the guidelines prescribed in our Scriptures, we can build heaven on earth. Unfortunately, most of the followers of all religions ignore the noble teachings of their respective Scriptures and that is the real reason for all the disharmony and violence in this world now. Good, if we all decide to join together for this noble cause and sow the seeds of mutual respect and love in the upcoming 2011.