The month of Ramadan is a month full of numerous spiritual activities that are aimed at impacting positively on the life of a fast-observer. Those effects are not restricted only to the period of fasting; rather it is a life-long one. In reality, fasting in the holy month of Ramadan is a whole month training programme that is aimed at a total life transformation and reformation of the fast-observers and consequently, it impacts positively on the human society at large.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to mention that the fasting in Islam just as the other acts of worship was instituted for the benefits of man. This is because, neither our obedience to Allah increases His might and honour nor our disobedience degrades Him of His Holy status. He is indeed the Perfect and self-sufficient Being, that is independent of every other beings.
Interestingly, every act of worship in Islam has its associated benefits and lessons that need to be derived from such acts. Thus, Ramadan fast in particular is packaged with a lot of benefits and lessons for the fast-observers and the Muslim community at large. However, some of the lessons shall be briefly discussed under the following subheadings:
Lesson One: Ramadan and Consciousness of Allah (Taqwa)
In accordance with a clear Quranic verse, it is categorically stated that the ultimate and the greatest benefit of fast to its observers is Taqwa (i.e. Consciousness of Allah) and attainment of Allah’s countenance. The term "Taqwa” is not ‘Fear of Allah’ as it is usually defined; rather it is a quality through which the soul is put under protection against whatever threatens it, a quality, which protects one from doing all that is considered by religion as wrong and sinful. In another word, ‘Taqwa’ means keeping one’s self from whatever leads him to commit sins so that he refrains from prohibited acts.
Allamah Mutahhari writes: "It is important to note that Taqwa is not about performing religious obligations such as prayer and fasting: it is about living a pious life. A person possessing Taqwa abandons living an animalistic life and chooses to live a moral one”
Without any doubt, Taqwa is a very crucial and indispensable attribute every believer should endeavor to possess. Interestingly, no action that is devoid of this is acceptable by Allah.
The Qur’an says:
(The other) said: Allah only accepts from those who guard (against evil) [5: 27]
Thus, in this regards, Taqwa is not a quality that is restricted to the month of Ramadan; rather it is a unique quality one needs to possess at all times.
Lesson Two: Ramadan; A Month Of Fasting
According to the verdicts of the Islamic Jurists, Ramadan fast is made compulsory on every sane, matured believer. Without any iota of doubt, it is an established fact that fasting on its own, apart from its spiritual benefits, it has numerous material benefits for its observers. In view of that, it is expected of every sane and matured believer to imbibe the habit of fasting, particularly those recommended ones on some prescribed days of the year. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) said: "Fast and you shall become healthy”
Thus, it is on this basis that the fasting should not be restricted to the month of Ramadan. One should imbibe the practice of fasting on some selected and recommended days of the week. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) says: "Whoever fasts a day voluntarily for the sake of Allah will be forgiven of his sins”.
In another instance, he (s.a.w.a) says: "Whoever fasts 3 days in every month is like one who fasts for the whole lifetime”
Meanwhile, those for one reason or the other are having ‘Qada’a’ fast (i.e. reparation fast) should as a matter of necessity take such an opportunity for the repayment of their missed Ramadan fast. For it is not allowed to engage in a supererogatory fast while one is still having a reparation fast.
Lesson Three: Ramadan; A Month Of Qur’an
The month of Ramadan is generally known as the month of the Qur’an; simply because the Holy Qur’an was revealed unto the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) on a very special night of Qadr (i.e. the night of Majesty) in the month of Ramadan.
The Qur’an says:
"The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction…” [2: 185]
"Surely We revealed it [the Qur’an] on the grand night” [97: 1]
In view of this, recitation of Qur’an is recommended and it is considered as a highly rewarding act of worship in this great month. Imam Baqir (AS) was reported to have said: "There is a spring for everything and the spring of Qur’an is the month of Ramadan”.
Similarly, the reward and benefits attributed to recitation of the Qur’an in this holy month are indeed unimaginable and incomparable to the rewards earned in any other months. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a) says: "One who recites a verse from the Qur’an in the month of Ramadan, his remuneration is like one who completes the whole of the Qur’an in other months”
Meanwhile, Qur’an is a divine message to the humanity, which contents at all times are guidance to the humanity. Thus, recitation and understanding of Qur’an is a life-long task of every believer and should not in any way be restricted only to the month of Ramadan. Thus, we must cultivate the habit of reciting the Qur’an on a daily basis and above all, we should as well act accordingly by its divine teachings. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) was reported to have said: "Take good care of the Qur’an and then take it as leader and a guide”
Lesson Four: Ramadan; A Month Of Immense Devotions
The month of Ramadan is a very conducive and spiritually-rich period for the observance of several acts of worship. This, without any doubt, is as a result of the reduced influences of Shaytan and the manifestation of the superabundant grace of Allah in this month. During the month of Ramadan, it is observed that those who were nonchalant to religion obligations in the remaining months ‘turn over a new leaf’ and they become devoted worshippers in this blessed month and perhaps for the rest of their lifetimes.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to note that worship of Allah, according to the Qur’an is the primary aim of creation of man and Jin. In light of this, worship of Allah should not be restricted only to the month of Ramadan; rather, it should be considered a life-long activity of an obedient servant of Allah. Hence, it is expected of every Muslim after the expiration of Ramadan fast to inculcate the habit of regular worship of Allah at its appropriate and designated times.
Lesson Five: Ramadan; A Month Of Supplication And Invocation
The month of Ramadan is indeed a highly conducive and spiritually-rich period for supplications, invocations and the fulfillment of one’s legitimate needs. Supplication, in fact, forms a basic part of the life of a believer. In the glorious Qur'an, supplication is referred to as an act of worship (‘Ibadah) and ignoring it is tantamount to disbelief.
"And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter hell abased” [40: 60]
Interestingly, supplication is a form of worship, which has a very great impact in the fulfilment of our worldly needs and upon the souls as well. Imam Sadiq (AS) was quoted to have said: "Engage in supplication because it is the best way through which you come close to God”
Thus, supplications and invocations should not be restricted only to the month of Ramadan; rather it should be considered as part and parcel of the daily routines of every believer.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) says: "Supplication is the weapon of the believer, the pillar of religion and the light of the heavens and the earth"
Lesson Six: Ramadan; A Month Of Late-Night Prayers
The month of Ramadan is a month popularly known for a regular observance of late-night prayers. The late-night prayer is a highly rewarding supererogatory prayer that is prescribed for every believer due to its immense rewards and benefits to man; materially and in gaining proximity to Allah. Thus, having established the benefits attributed to the late-night prayers, it is expected of every believer after the expiration of the month of Ramadan to inculcate the habit of its regular observance. This indeed, is one of the attributes of a believer according to the report from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and his pure Ahlul-Bayt (a.s).
Similarly, in the glorious Qur’an, Allah says:
"And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud (Late-night prayer) beyond what is incumbent on you; perhaps your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory" [17: 79]
Lesson Seven: Ramadan; A Month Of Generosity
The month of Ramadan is a period when Allah invites the rich as well as the poor ones to be His guests and irrespective of their social status, they were both charged with the same duty of observing the fast. However, the well-to-do individuals during this Holy month experience the conditions and situations of the poor and less-priviledged ones of the community and hence they are generous to them.
Imam Sadiq (AS) while explaining one of the rationales for fasting in the month of Ramadan, says: "God made fasting compulsory so that the rich and the poor are made equal. If there were no fasting, the rich would never experience the feeling of hunger that would arouse their passion to feed the poor since they have what they want. Thus, God has willed equality between his servants and in this way makes the rich feel hunger and have mercy on the hungry”
For this reason, the month of Ramadan is a month specially known for immense acts of charity and generosity in the Muslim communities. However, the acts of generosity to the poor and the less-priviledged ones of the community should not be limited to the month of Ramadan alone; rather, it should be a continuous one.
Lesson Eight: Ramadan; A Month Of Self-Purification And Discipline
From its technical definition, fasting is not only about the renunciation of foods and drinks during the daytime for a specified period of time; rather, it is also a total abstinence from every vice and ill manner. That is to say that a fast observer apart from abstaining from foods, drinks, sexual relation, he must as a matter of necessity abstain from acts such as backbiting, lying, hypocrisy, conceit, oppression and usurpation throughout the month as well.
Imam Sadiq (AS) was quoted to have said: "When you fast, your ears, eyes, hair, skin and other organs should also fast”
It is on this basis that one of the known peculiarities of the month of Ramadan is that the acts of good deeds are in abundance while the evil acts and vices are drastically been reduced to the minimal in the Muslim community.
Thus, for the goodness of good and its associated benefits to man and his society, every believer after the expiration of Ramadan fast should cultivate the habit of performing good and praised-worthy deeds. Likewise, they must refrain from every ill manner and vice at all times, as this is the only way to guarantee their success and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter.
Every legislation in the Islamic laws has its underlying philosophy, benefits and lessons. The fasting in the month of Ramadan is a whole month training programme for man, which is aimed towards achievement of the spiritual as well as the material well-beings. However, its philosophy, benefits and the derived lessons are not only aimed or restricted to the period of fasting (i.e. the month of Ramadan); rather it is a life-long one. It is expected that the benefits and positive effects attained in any month of Ramadan are retained by a fast observer till the following month of Ramadan or even beyond.
Thus, it is an undisputable fact that the month of Ramadan has gone; an annual obligatory fast has been concluded but the observation of other obligatory acts of worship such as daily ritual prayers (Salat), poor due (Zakat), one-fifth (Khums), and holy pilgrimage (Hajj) etcetera should not be abandoned. Similarly, one should also cultivate the habit of regular observation of the supererogatory acts of worship, particularly those acts (such as late-night prayers, Quranic recitation, alms giving, supplication etc.) which during the month of Ramadan were extensively observed. In addition, we should refrain from every vice and evil deed, which was abandoned in the month of Ramadan in order to gain proximity to Allah.
. Qur’an 2: 183.
 . For more details on Taqwa and its effects on our lives, kindly refer to: https://www.al-islam.org/message-thaqalayn/vol11-n4-2011/taqwa-part-1-ayatullah-murtadha-mutahhari
 . Muhammad RayShahri, "Muntahab Mizaan al-Hikmah”, P. 336 (Hadith No 3716)
 . ibid, P. 336 (Hadith No 3728)
 . ibid, P. 336 (Hadith No 3729)
 . Muhammad-Baqir Majlisi, "Bihar al-Anwar”, Vol. 92, P. 213.
 . Muhammad-Baqir, Murtadha, "Jami’ al-Akhbar wal Athar”, Vol. 1, P. 329.
 . Muhammad RayShahri, "Muntahab Mizaan al-Hikmah”, P. 458 (Hadith No. 5157)
 . Qur’an 51, Verse 56.
 . Muhammad-Baqir Majlisi, "Bihar al-Anwar”, Vol. 93, P. 303.
 . Muhammad Kulayni, "Al-Kafi”, Vol. 2, P. 468 (Hadith No 1)
 . Fayz Kashani, "Muhjat al- Baydah”, Vol. 2, P. 124.
 . Muhammad Kulayni, "Al-Kafi”, Vol. 4, P. 87 (Hadith No 1)