This first appeared, in abbreviated form, in a Today's Ayat post in Ramadan 2018/1439.
The intention here is to expand on the phrase "as it was prescribe for those before you" in the verse about fasting
We hope to expand on the work here now, and more as time permits.
Here are the main verses about fasting found in the Qur'an
- 2:183 You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.
- 2:184 Fast for a specific number of days, but if one of you is ill, or on a journey, on other days later. For those who can fast only with extreme difficulty, there is a way to compensate- feed a needy person. But if anyone does good of his own accord, it is better for him, and fasting is better for you, if only you knew.
- 2:185 It was in the month of Ramadan that the Quran was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So any one of you who is present that month should fast, and anyone who is ill or on a journey should make up for the lost days by fasting on other days later. God wants ease for you, not hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.
- 2:187 You [believers] are permitted to lie with your wives during the night of the fast: they are [close] as garments to you, as you are to them. God was aware that you were betraying yourselves, so He turned to you in mercy and pardoned you: now you can lie with them- seek what God has ordained for you- eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct from the black. Then fast until nightfall. Do not lie with them during the nights of your devotional retreat in the mosques: these are the bounds set by God, so do not go near them. In this way God makes His messages clear to people, that they may guard themselves against doing wrong.
Note the missing 2:186? We'll get back to that.
First let's expand on "...as it was prescribed for those before you"
What do we find when we examine the fasting-related teachings of those before us?
In Christianity, we find
- Acts 13:3, 14:23 fast before important decisions
- Luke 2:37, 5:33 fasting linked with prayer
- 1 Corinth 7:1 - 7:5 giving up anything for God can be a fast
- Matthew 6:16 - 6:18 dont be obvious about fasting
- Isaiah 58 "the fast" is a long-term lifestyle
- And the first fast in the Christian story is Jesus’ forty days in the desert, the basis for Lent
And in Judaism we see
- Leviticus 23:26 - 23:32 the basis for Yom Kippur
Now, remember that missing 2:186? In the middle of verses about fasting?
This is the verse wherein Allah says "if My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am near, I respond to those who call Me"
and this is indeed the common fasting thread we see in all the books:
fasting is associated with prayer, with calling on our Creator.
Notice, too, that in earlier traditions, fasting is understood as "abstaining from something for the sake of Allah",
with that understanding, let's remember the very first fast: not eating from that one tree.
We didn't do so well on that one, did we?