Let us remind ourselves of some of the lessons (benefits) which we learn or gain in this great school of the month of Ramadan. Fasting, as will be explained, is not only a physical but also a spiritual exercise that has many lasting benefits and the best one is spiritual. Here are just a few of these great benefits that fasting persons gain in the month of Ramadan:

1. At Taqwa (awareness of Almighty Allah, mindfulness, consciousness) that translates into self-control, self-restraint, self-discipline and self-evaluation).

Almighty Allah informs us in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those nations before you that you may attain a quality of At Taqwa.” (Al Baqarah 183)

Fasting helps one to become less preoccupied with bodily appetites and enables the heart and mind to become free to reflect over deeper spiritual matters, such as one’s relationship with God and with fellow human beings.

It enables a person to develop sustained consciousness of God – “Taqwa”.

That is to say, fasting instills in the hearts of the Saimin (the fasting persons), the essence of consciousness of the Creator, moral courage both in secret and manifest, guarding the heart and the seat of emotions from spoilage and moral indecency.

2. As Sabr (Patience). The school of the month of Ramadan gives to the Saimin practical lessons which will affect positively the heart, soul and the body of the Saim.

Fasting helps in conditioning the heart, soul, and body on the virtues of patience and firmness in the face of adversity.

As Sabr turns the phrase ‘I can not’ into ‘I can’.

It is an inner and psychological conquest over things perceived by others as impossible.

It fills the mind and soul with the necessary powers to function effectively in life.

As Sabr, in Islam, is considered as the most important possession of a believer and one of the greatest lesson fasting people learn from Siyam.

As Sabr is a response or a result of fasting! Saim controls three aspects of his/her body which are the root cause of human downfall, namely the stomach, the private parts, and the tongue.

The lessons of Sabr in the month of Ramadan are thus obvious.

The Saim is well aware of the words of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S): “Ramadan is the month of As Sabr (Patience). And the reward for As Sabr is Jannah (Paradise).” (Ibn Khuzaymah)

3. Behavioral modification and especially cleansing the tongue from backbiting, mocking, lying, slandering, yelling, screaming, shouting; keeping our eyes in restraint from unlawful look; the ears from listening to an idle talk, etc.

One of the important things that fasting offers the Saim (observer of fasting) is helping him/her control or change his/her habits.

To change or control a habit is to wage a war on oneself. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) advised us as follows: “Sawm is a shield (or a screen or a shelter from the Hell-fire). So, if a person is Saim, he/she should not engage in foolish behavior or shouting or yelling. If someone offends or fights him/her, he/she should just remind himself/herself and others: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

If fasting for a whole month with the prayers, do not prove their effect on the whole behavior of the Muslim, especially in developing self-control and strengthening the will, they are rejected by Almighty Allah since they have been fruitless.

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) warned us that one who prays without being influenced by the prayer, may not gain anything from his/her prayers except the physical exertion of standing, kneeling, and bowing; and similarly, whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action then Allah the Mighty and Majestic has no need that he/she should leave his/her food or drink. (Bukhari)

4. Social benefits. Fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor, the family and the whole community.

In the school of Ramadan this lesson of solidarity is well understood. Even in N. America, the days of Ramadan are the days in which the rich brothers and sisters have first-hand experience of what it is to be poor.

Fasting instills in the hearts of rich brothers and sisters the virtue of Rahmah (Mercy), which is important in terms of social well-being and good harmony among people.

Besides being the month of As Sabr it is the month of mutual help and support and the month in which the Rizq (provision) is multiplied for the believers, as the Messenger of Allah said in the Hadith reported by Ibn Khuzaymah.

Fasting encourages compassion and charity. When fasting, one should think of those in need who may be fasting but have no food at the start or the end of their fast, those whose tiny children are also having to go hungry, out of poverty. The Prophet Muhammad described Ramadan as “the month of Mercy”. His companions observed: “The Prophet (Muhammad) was the most generous of people, but he would be his most generous during Ramadan…”. (Bukhari)

Fasting promotes Community Spirit. During Ramadan the one who fasts has heightened concerns for the well-being of the community, both rich and poor, intellectuals and labourers.

Community spirit is promoted as people start fasting at the same time and break their fast at the same time, they reflect together through longer prayer and deeper devotions.

It is greatly encouraged that families invite each other to break their fast together.

Zakatul Fitr has been prescribed on the believers as means of getting rid of the bad effect of vain talks and useless speeches in Ramadan, any shortcomings or un-Islamic act as well as to help the needy on the day of Eid and make them happy.

As it can be seen, the wisdom behind this institution is individual and social as well. Besides these two components or benefits, let us mention that being generous during the month of Ramadan is the tradition of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S).

We were taught by the example of the Messenger of Allah. Ibn Abbas (r.a) said: “The Messenger of Allah was the most generous person among all people, particularly during the month of Ramadan he used to be extraordinary generous when he met the angel Jibril. During this month the angel Jibril used to visit him every night and recite the Qur’an to him. At this time the normal generosity of the Messenger of Allah used to be very much increased, faster than the rain bearing wind.”  {Bukhari, Muslim}