The acts of worship that the Muslims practice seek to achieve certain goals and benefits that Allah wants His slaves to acquire knowledge in them and to comprehend and achieve them. Among these acts of worship is fasting during the lunar month of Ramadan, which has several goals that the Muslims must strive to achieve with his heart and by his actions. These goals are as follows:
1. Achieving At-Taqwa, that is, the fear from Allah. Allah said, "O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)." The Holy Quran 2/183. Hence, fasting is a means to achieve At-Taqwa. In fact, all acts of worship and Tawhid (monotheism) are methods and means to achieve At-Taqwa, as Allah has said,"O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqun." Quran 2/21)
2. Acquiring the rewards of Allah. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah related to the Prophet, that he said, "Allah the Exalted said, 'All the deeds of the son of Adam are his, except for As-Siyam, for it is Mine and I will reward for it.'"
3. The Prophet also said, "The Sa-im ( the person who fasts) has two happy moments: when he breaks his fast he is happy, and when he meets his Lord he is happy because of his fast." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). About his saying, "When he breaks his fast he is happy," and Imam Muslim's addition, "Because of his breaking his fast," Imam Al-Qurtubi commented, "It means he is happy because his hunger and thirst have ended, since he is allowed to break his fast. This happiness is natural and this is apparently the desired meaning. It was also said that his being happy is because of his breaking the fast, means that he has fulfilled his fast, and as a culmination for his practicing the acts of worship. His saying, 'And when he meets his Lord he is happy because of his fast,' means he is happy because of the rewards for fasting and its complete awards.'"
4. As-Sawm (fasting) purifies the soul and helps it acquire the habit of obeying Allah and His Messenger by defeating the desires of the heart. Fasting teaches refraining from following the desires because the soul of the Sa-im becomes obedient to Allah's commands. Also, Satan has a stronger hold over the souls that often obey the desires. When the soul abandons its desires, it will become more difficult for Satan to have a hold on the heart.
5. Being saved from the Fire, for the Prophet said, "And Allah has those whom he frees from the Fire, and this occurs every night (meaning in Ramadan)." (At-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah)
6. Ash-Shafa`ah (the right of intercession). The Prophet said, "As-Siyam and the Quran will intercede on behalf of the slave. As-Siyam says, 'O Lord! I prevented him from food and obeying his desires in the morning. Therefore, accept my Shafa`ah on his behalf.' And the Quran says, 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Therefore, accept my Shafa`ah on his behalf,' and they will be accepted as intercessors.'" (Ahmad, Al-Hakim & Al-Bayhaqi).
7. Having the sins forgiven. There is no doubt that fasting directs to having one's sins forgiven and erased. The Prophet said, "The five prayers, and from Friday to the next Friday, and Ramadan to the next Ramadan, are erasers for what occurs between them, as long as major sins are avoided." (Muslim). Also, the Messenger of Allah said, "Whoever fasts Ramadan with Iman and Ihtisab, will have his previous sins forgiven." (Al-Bukhari & Muslim). Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaii added the following to the above narration, "And also what will occur later on (meaning future sins, as well)." "With Iman" entails fasting while believing with the heart in the obligation of fasting during Ramadan. As for Ihtisab, it means that one anticipates the reward and his fasting is therefore only for the sake of Allah and not to imitate his people and community or for any other worldly gain.
By: The Daar of Islamic Heritage