The social significance of the month of Ramadan

By Prof M Aslam

Fasting in one form or the other does exist in almost all the religions.We are just witnessing “Navaratra Fasting” for nine days among Hindus. Similarly, Hindu women also fast for a day – “Karwa Chouth” for the well being of their husbands. The Christians (Catholics) do have 40 days fast but it is not mandatory, but fasting on ‘Ash-Wednesday (beginning of Eastern Season of fasting and abstinence) and ‘Good Friday’ are mandatory except sick and pregnant women.

Roza or Fasting in Islam

Roza or fasting in Islam is an elaborate process stretching over a period of one lunar month every year. Apparently, it means that a person observing fast from sun rise to sun set, will neither eat nor drink nor even smoke. But in essence it implies that a person will not only observe abstinence from eating and drinking but will get into a sublime state of mind in order to develop positive feelings. To achieve this one has to restrain oneself from listening, speaking, hearing or thinking negatively about others. Ramadan is also considered the month of Quran because the first revelation the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) received was in the month of Ramadan.The Qur’an says, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” (Qur’an, A – Baqara, 2:183.)

It is also an elaborate process of self-purification. The expectation is that if one passes through this process of self-purification for a period of one month, its impact will remain for the remaining 11 months, after which this process will be repeated. Physical fasting alone does not have any social or religious significance.

Social Significance

Sociologically speaking, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor. It is manifested through the concept of charity, neighbourhood and hospitality. Apart from helping to purify body and soul through the process of self-purification, addressing these areas of social significance are bound to help people to shed all those things, which are not socially desirable. and turn out to be an ideal human beings.


Charity includes helping the poor through giving of alms. It is said that if one gives away even a small amount during this month, he will get 70 times more blessings in return. A Muslim is also expected to take stock of his personal wealth both cash and kind and calculate ‘zakat’ @ about 2.5%, which is to be earmarked for distribution among the poor and needy. In return God is expected to safeguard his wealth and property. What a wonderful scheme to bring about social justice. If all the rich and well to do Muslim families practice this with full sincerity, there will be few dying of hunger in the colonies inhabited by desperately poor people.

Concept of Neighborhood

The practice of the concept of neighbourhood is equally important. It has wider connotations than its literal meaning. The Prophet had said, “One should behave decently with the whole of humanity and foremost among them is your neighbour.” If one connects it with concept of fasting, an immediate implication is that a true Muslim cannot see any human being hungry, even if it means having to sacrifice ‘iftar’ and to continue fasting for the next day without taking any food. Similarly, a true Muslim cannot see a human being in pain or misery. It applies to both one’s immediate neighbourhood as well as entire humanity. What we are witnessing around us in the name of Islam is not Islam. In essence, Islam in general and ‘roza’ in particular teaches a person to address human concerns and values.

Concept of hospitality

On the concept of hospitality, the Prophet (SW) had said “those who become happy on hearing the sound of the footsteps of a guest, God will forgive their sins”. Since the Muslims try to practice good things to receive forgiveness from God, there cannot be better motivation than this to achieve the same.

Inculcate habit of speaking the Truth

One of the greatest advantages of Ramadan fasting is that “its true observance is expected to inculcate in a person a habit of speaking the truth”. It is well accepted that to tread the path of truthfulness is to tread the path of the most righteous of God’s creation.”.The Prophet (SAW) said: “ Say what is True, although it may be bitter or displeasing to people. “ Truthfulness is expected to be an essential attribute of every Muslim. If a person undergoes through this process of self purification, speaks the truth, practices the concept of hospitality and neighborhood and gives charity as prescribed, he/she will not only become an ideal human being (Insan), but will certainly be also entitled for God’s blessings and protection which all of us so desperately need in these turbulent times. Muslims need to demonstrate through observance of ‘roza’ (in its totality), Islam’s relevance in today’s world.
Prof. Aslam is Former Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU, New Delhi. He is a Member of the Collegium of Eminent Social Scientists constituted by the ICSSR; Fellow EDI of the World Bank; Distinguished Fellow, AGRASRI, Tirupati, A.P
He can be reached at


Also read-


  1. It is real meaning of fasting not only we have to left eating and drinking but we have to avoid all the evil thoughts as mentioned above appropriately. Thus by observing the fasting we realise the pain of hunger people. It is the worship which will be rewarded by Almighty himself.

  2. Awrwb gladdened to see after a long gap your article on Ramzan which is really unique, covering all aspects, not just a form of worship, but working as a trainer for a model life. Thanks and regards. Wassalaam


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Stories

Dawoodi Bohras conduct over 7,900 group Quran recitation sessions during Ramadan

By Muslim Mirror Network Ramadan is a blessed occasion for Muslims all around the world. It is a time of self-reflection, spiritual growth, and devotion...

The Ramadan Fasting – A process of balancing physical, biological and spiritual aspects of...

By Prof. M. Aslam The Ramadan fasting or ‘Roza’ as practiced by Muslims is an elaborate process of self-reform, self-restraint and involves a wide range...
Jasmin Merdan / Getty

Fasting strengthens body, sharpens mind and purifies soul

By Dr. M. Qutbubdin Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This practice is called...

Biden wishes Muslims ‘Ramadan Kareem’

WASHINGTON : US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday marked the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, wishing...
By Latheef Farook November 29 marks the day when the United Nations, under pressure from US, Britain and Europe, divided Palestine and created an artificial state for imported Jews in violation of all accepted norms , laws and moral principles. The...
By Asad Mirza Last week, veteran Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders vowed to be Prime Minister of the Netherlands eventually, following an election in which his party won the most seats. Wilders vowed on X: “I will be prime minister.” In a...
By Asad Mirza The World Children’s Day, on 20th November this year, was observed during the Israel’s war on Gaza, in which an estimated  5,500  children have been killed. International humanitarian agencies are concerned about the unfolding tragedy but it looks...
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the heart of Kathmandu on Thursday, advocating for the reinstatement of the monarchy and the return of Nepal to its former status as a Hindu state. Aligned with the "citizen's movement to protect...
In the aftermath of the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, a notable trend is emerging as young American women are not only embracing Islam but also publicly declaring their religious conversion through short video messages shared on popular platforms...