This verse teaches us that the purpose of fasting is the realisation of the goal of attaining piety. It is only appropriate that anyone who witnesses this month should succeed––as one narration of the Prophet says, “Be his nose cut off in humiliation if a man [let him be humiliated who] sees the month of Ramadan but fails to have his sins forgiven.”
During this month, ourselves are trained to do good and abandon evil––and these selves that learn to avoid even permissible things during this month are therefore more likely to avoid evil things after this training is over.
Alas, many of us are unaware of these blessings and this wisdom, and fail to train our selves properly, sometimes getting worse in wanton luxury, laziness and wastefulness in a month which was given to teach them in self-control and discipline. We find that many Muslims increase their consumption of luxuriant foods and drinks in this month rather than train their souls and bodies to live on a little and focus on spiritual pursuits, as if Allah made this month the month of eating and not fasting!
The media in the Muslim world, alas, often aggravate the attitude of wastefulness and diversion––and are found polling people about their favourite foods during the month of Ramadan, as if Allah has singled this month out not for abstinence but for eating in abundance! Who are these deprived people condemned by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, if not those who find new ways to divert themselves with special television shows and movies during this month, as unfortunately is the case in many Muslim communities today?!
One of the unfortunate phenomena in our contemporary Muslim societies during this month is the open and brazen-faced violation of the sanctity of this month––as the sacredness of this month is made light of and new ways are found to spend time during it. One of the ways in which this sanctity is violated is how the producers of television shows in the Muslim world compete in producing special programs of diversion in this month rather than repent and save the world from their evil at least during this month!
But no, they rather double and treble the production of their evil so that the heedless Muslims be even more heedless and have even less time for reflection, repentance, regret over their sins and reform of their character! Rather, these traders in lust and beautifiers of desire excel during this month. Alas, their devils have been chained during this month—but who will chain them?!
Whoever reflects for even a moment about the way the early Muslims lived and worshipped and how we live and worship will see an enormous chasm and weep over our condition. Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy upon him, said that Al-Hasan ibn Saalih, may Allah have mercy upon him, sold a bondswoman of his to someone, and in her new house she woke up in the middle of the night and called out to the people of the house asking them to perform prayer, so they said: “Is it time for the Fajr prayer?” Upon which she said: “Why? Do you not perform except the obligatory prayers?” Then she returned to her earlier master and complained that she cannot live with people who do not perform except the obligatory prayers.
How many of us perform prayer at night regularly during the month of Ramadan, let alone during the other months? Even the few hours during the last ten nights of Ramadan seem so heavy to us!