Fasting (or Quranically, ‘siyam’) is a key element in the Quranic process. It appears as early as in Chapter 2 and its context shows its role to develop endurance in individuals and society. More so than that, fasting seems to be a way to invoke Allah’s presence. In this essay, we will analyse Ch 2 Vs 183-187 to understand the entire process.
2/183 – This begins the passage with a call to those who have believed in the correct strategy of consumption (2/168-171) as well as the means of achieving immunity (2/172-177) and channelling wealth (2/178-182).
Then comes a general command to fast or practise self-control. Every single effort in this direction is valuable to gain taqwa (maintaining integrity of our selves).
2/184 – these are periods of preparation (for the project of islam) but there are some extenuating circumstances. Effort is also be expanded to this end as much as possible towards nourishing the stagnant folks.
2/185 – this fast is to be maintained until one reaches a state of intense heat (metaphorically indicating time of difficult tribulation). This is the ‘shahru ramadhan’ and whoever witnesses this state, he is said to be fasting. When this happens, a portion of Quran will be descended to us which will be guidance, clarification and a criteria.
This entire exercise is for us to attain ease (possibly by acclimatising ourselves to the intense heat and to magnify Allah in our lives.
2/186 – This shows our closeness with Allah during this period. Allah answers our call due to our diligence in maintaining self-control.
2/187 – This is a relaxed period following achieving shahru ramadhan. We are to interact with our loved ones who were not fasting and to feel human again. We are to do this until both modes of life are distinct. Then we are to fast again till another shahru ramadhan. The entire fasting process is now called a ‘masjid’, showing that we are building towards something.
It is best to read this passage from 2/183-207 which is complete section of Ch 2. This portion is probably the personal development required to bring about the ideal condition depicted in this chapter.