What does the Quran say about fasting?

During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk for 30 days. The act of fasting is meant to remind Muslims of the less fortunate and to reinforce the need to be thankful. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting during the month of Ramadan is compulsory for all healthy Muslim adults.

This passage of Surat Al-Baqarah verse 183 to 187 succinctly presents the why, when and how of fasting. Read it and you will see. It’s an example of the concise and straight to the point message of the Quran. It’s also clear that very little explanation is required.


I begin with Allah’s name the Kind, the Caring

The purpose of fasting in Ramadan

183. Believers, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you become mindful of Allah [1]. 184. Fast for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or travelling then let them fast an equivalent number of days later. Those who are unable to fast must pay compensation – if they can afford it – to feed a needy person. The one who gives more voluntarily is rewarded, but to fast would be better for you if you knew.

The Quran was revealed in Ramadan

185. The Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan; the Quran is guidance for people, full of clear teachings that help to distinguish right from wrong; whoever is present in the month must fast in it, but, if anyone is ill or travelling, then let them fast an equivalent number of days later. Allah wants what is easy for you, not what is difficult and that you complete the compulsory number of fasts. So, glorify Allah for guiding you, and become thankful.

Allah answers the prayers

186. When My servants ask you about Me, tell them that I am near, I answer the prayer of the prayerful whenever they pray to Me. So, they should obey Me and believe in Me so they may be guided.

Rules for married couples in Ramadan

187. It is permissible for you to sleep with your wives during the nights of the fast – they are like a garment for you, as you are for them. Allah knew what you were deceiving yourselves by what you were doing in secret, and He has relented towards you and pardoned you. So now be intimate with them, and desire whatever Allah has ordained for you; and eat and drink until the dawn, then complete the fast till nightfall [2]. However, do not be intimate with your wives on those nights when you are engaged in a spiritual retreat in Masjid [3]. These are Allah’s boundaries, so do not approach them. That is how Allah explains His verses for people so that they become mindful.


[1] Taqwa means mindful, Allah-conscious, aware and attentive to moral and spiritual duties, to avoid the forbidden

[2] Literally, it is “the white thread of dawn is distinct from the black thread”, which means the dawn, a faint whiteness that spreads across the eastern horizon about an hour and a half before the sunrise.

[3] ‘Itikaf is the spiritual retreat that was a regular practice of the beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) during the last ten days and nights of Ramadan.

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