Fasting has great significances and aims, which, if carefully considered, instill in us much surprise. Among these significances, we mention the following:
Fasting is linked with true faith in Allaah that is why it has been reported that fasting is secret worship since a person may break his fast if he wishes by eating, drinking or simply by not making the intention to fast (in which case his fast will not be accepted even if he remains fasting the whole day). Fasting, then, is a hearty, secret worship that concerns only the servant and his creator.
When the servant knowingly gives up the things and acts that nullify the fast, despite his ability to reach them in secret, he gives indeed strong evidence of his certain belief that Allaah watches over him in both his manifest and secret deeds. There is no doubt that in this kind of conduct is a significant training to strengthen faith in Allaah.
Fasting is also a training for the servant to aspire to the Hereafter since by fasting he gives up some of the worldly matters looking forward to Allaah's by observing the fast he weighs the profit in terms of the condition in the hereafter. However, those who measure things in materialistic terms are only concerned with the worldly aspect of fasting. As a result, they think of it as merely deprivation of the pleasures of life, which please the self and satisfy the body. They are not in the least concerned with the other aspect of its significance in the hereafter that constitutes the real reward and the genuine perpetuity. This attitude of their hearts weakens their aspiration for the hereafter and its eternal enjoyment.
Fasting is a practical embodiment of submission and servitude to Allaah that the servant manifests by eating and drinking at night only in response to the call of his Lord. Allaah said (what means): “And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread” [Quran 2:187]. That is why the fasting Muslim should eat at Iftaar (break fast) time, at sunset, and just before dawn (Suhoor) because continuous fasting (day and night) is forbidden. The act of eating is therefore, a form of worship of Allaah When dawn starts, the Muslims discontinue eating and drinking in compliance with Allaah's order (what means): “… then complete your fast till the night appears” [Quran 2:187]. In this way, the Muslim is educated about complete servitude to Allaah in such a way that when his Lord(Allaah) commands, he complies. It is therefore not simply a matter of personal taste, whim and disposition, but a matter of obedience to Allaah and implementation of His Commands.
Fasting is similarly a form of education to the whole society since when the fasting Muslim feels that people around him are all fasting, he finds fast no longer difficult but feels in harmony with the society to which he belongs through worship, the unifying factor of the whole community. Whoever compares voluntary fasting to the obligatory fast in Ramadhaan perceives a certain difficulty in the former and easiness in the latter due to the aforementioned reasons. That is why Muslims find it very difficult to spend the month of Ramadhaan away from Muslim environments.