Salam (Peace) Bartely,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
I am really happy to know that you are keen to learn about the practices of your Muslim colleagues. It is really good to learn about each other’s faith, culture, and thoughts.
In this way, a lot of misconceptions will be removed, and we will be in a better position in terms of our relation with and appreciation of others.
In Islam, Muslims are always encouraged to reflect the rituals of their religion in their manners and dealings with people. One of the rituals of Islam is fasting, which is defined as abstaining from food, drink, and any sexual activities from dawn till sunset.
This is not meant to torture people; rather, it aims at refining their souls as this should be accompanied by good manners and avoidance of any evil deeds that drive the person away from Allah (God) like backbiting, gossiping, foul language, swearing, violence, or bad manners.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) made it very clear that if a person abstains from food and drink, yet does not abstain from evil deeds, his fasting will not be fruitful at all.
He who does not abstain from falsehood in words or deeds, Allah has no need for him to abstain from his food and drink. (Al-Bukhari)
Therefore, the main purpose of fasting is to refine the souls of believers, make them feel the sufferings of the poor and the needy, and on top of that, give them control over their desires.
There are many people in the world today who pass away because of starvation; yet many others, in other parts of the world, get rid of their extra food by throwing it in the oceans.
The experience of fasting teaches Muslims how to feel the need of those who are suffering from starvation. It teaches them how to appreciate the gifts of Allah and His overwhelming blessings. It also teaches them how to control their desire for food and drink and realize the main purpose of their existence.
To achieve these glorious goals, the training sessions of fasting should not be short; rather, they should be extended throughout the year. It is because of this that Islam has made fasting a ritual on two levels; obligatory level and voluntary level.
While every sane, adult Muslim of good health is required to observe the obligatory fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan, the voluntary or recommended fasting is to be observed at any time during the year.
Of course, there are times where it is more recommended to observe fasting; specifically if these timings are before the season of the obligatory fasting i.e. the month of Ramadan. Then, fasting at these times will be of a value as it enables Muslims to train themselves in fasting and get ready to observe the month of fasting without difficulty.
One of these times is the month of Rajab, which was and still is, seen as one of the four sacred months. Due to such special status given to the sacred months, fasting a few days in these months is very much appreciated and is highly rewarded.
Since these months are the months of peace and connection with Allah, Muslims are keen to achieve peace of mind through fasting in these months.
Add to this the fact that people who observe fasting during the month of Rajab are definitely training themselves to fast during the month of Ramadan, since the month of Rajab is only two lunar months before the month Ramadan.
Apart from the mere fact that the month of Rajab is one of the four sacred months, Muslims do not ascribe any special merit to the month of Rajab.
In fact, Muslims are encouraged to treat their days as a gift from Allah and a time where they can offer good deeds and make the world brighter and better.
Fasting Muslims, who have emptied their stomachs from the desire of food and refined their manners, are definitely more qualified to fulfill this task of making the world a better place than anybody else. Fasting gives such a power to change the world to a better place.
In its essence, fasting is a process of changing the heart and the soul, disconnecting them from worldly and physical desires and connecting them with the Creator and the Sustainer of this universe, Almighty Allah. Such a connection is a blessed and everlasting one.
May God connect us with His light so that we can change for the better and change the world around us.
I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.
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