-O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).
For a certain number of days; but whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; and those who are not able to do it may effect a redemption by feeding a poor man; so whoever does good spontaneously it is better for him; and that you fast is better for you if you know.
(Surah 2: Al Baqarah, 183-184)
Islam proceeded step by step and by degrees in the imposition of most of its obligatory duties and Fasting was no exception. The Noble Prophet (PBUH) advised Muslims to observe fasts for three days in a month but this was not obligatory. Then in the second year of Hijra, the Command (2:183) about fasting in the month of Ramadhan was revealed. Verse 185 in Surah Al Baqarah was revealed next year. The first Commandment about fasting contained in vv. 183-184 was revealed in the second year of Hijrah before the battle of Badr. The subsequent verse which superseded it was revealed a year later but was inserted here because it dealt with the same matter.
Siyam or Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is Third Pillar of Islam. Muslims wait all year long for the arrival of this month of Ramadhan. FASTING MEANS from dawn until sunset eating, drinking and sexual intercourse is forbidden. Ramadhan is the month of patience. A person, who is ready to be patient, not to eat while he is hungry, not to drink while he is thirsty, not to lean to his lusts, such a person is a noble individual. Such a person will be given paradise by Allah as a gift, as a merit of award.
To train yourself to abstain from the essentials of life is not an easy act. It needs a strong personality to dictate self-control, self-discipline and self-restraint. Fasting develops self-control and helps Muslims overcome selfishness, greed, laziness and other faults. It is an annual training program to refresh us for carrying out our duties towards Allah.
A person who can restrain himself, for the love and pleasure of Allah, deserves a reward from the Creator Himself. The hardship of fasting brings the glad tidings that the fasting undertaken for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah is sure to be accepted by the Most Merciful Lord.
Fast in which the spirit of Fasting is not observed is only an exercise in starvation but not really a Fast at all. The prophet (PBUH) said "whosoever does not give up telling lies, or acting in a false manner, Allah has no need for his giving up his eating or drinking."
The basic purpose of Fasting is to suffuse us with the quality of taqwa. The term "taqwa" implies fear and precaution and in Islamic terminology it means fear of Allah or God Consciousness and avoidance of disobedience to Him. Literally, taqwa means: Godliness, devotees or piety. According to the scientific meaning, it signifies a screen between two things. Thus, if the servant submits himself to Allah's will by carrying out all obligatory duties with which he has been commanded and abstains from that which Allah has prohibited, then his obedient actions have placed a screen between himself and Allah's punishment. That is called taqwa. In our life journey we face innumerable temptations and we must shun them and stick scrupulously to the path of righteousness and truth- that is what constitutes taqwa. Taqwa is attained through knowledge which is coupled with true faith (iman). If we do not possess knowledge, we cannot really show piety. To obey the commands of Allah and to carry out His laws constitutes taqwa, fasting has been made obligatory on us. We are made conscious about the needs and deprivation of those who are more in need than ourselves. This heightening of one's sense of sacrifice is the opposite of selfishness and of a desire to exploit or oppress someone for the sake of gain. Allah does not need our hunger, but fasting helps us to develop and refine our reflex about right and wrong, our sense of love and gratitude. Ramadhan teaches us how to control our animal passions, how to bring them under discipline. The end result is manifestation of a human personality that loves Allah and loves His creation that fears none but Allah, that draws all its strength from Allah and Allah alone.
Ramadhan is also the month of the Qur'an, the month in which the Qur'an was revealed. The moral and spiritual climate of Ramadhan helps the flourishing of the Qur'anic message which the ambiance is of goodness, humility, righteousness, love for good and aversion for evil.