Verse of Fasting

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Verse of Fasting
Verse's Information
NameVerse of Fasting
SuraQur'an 2
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The al-Ṣawm Verse (Arabic: آية الصَوم), or the Verse of Fasting (Qur'an 2:183), is a Quranic verse signifying the obligation of fasting for believers. Quranic exegetes assert that this obligation applies to all who have embraced Islam, regardless of the strength of their faith. The verse also suggests the presence of fasting obligations in pre-Islamic religions. Moreover, it mentions piety or God-wariness as a benefit of fasting.

Text and Translation of the Verse

﴾يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ﴿
O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be Godwary.

Quran 2:183

Obligation of Fasting for Believers

The Qur'an 2:183 pertains to the obligation of fasting as a commandment or ruling in Islamic Sharia. Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi (d. 745/1344-5) states in his Quranic exegesis, Bahr al-Muhit, that the preceding verses of Sura al-Baqara establish three tenets of Islam (faith, prayer, and zakat) and this verse delineates the fourth tenet, fasting.[1] 'Allama Tabataba'i argues that this verse, along with the subsequent two verses, aims to legislate the obligation of fasting during the month of Ramadan.[2]

Obligation of Fasting not being Confined to Believers

Quranic exegetes believe that the obligation of fasting extends to all those who have embraced Islam, regardless of the strength of their faith.[3] According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), this ruling encompasses even all misguided individuals and hypocrites, and in fact, all those who have embraced Islam.[4] 'Allama Tabataba'i explains the address used in this verse, "O you who have faith," as a means to draw people's attention to their faith so that they accept the rulings brought down from their Lord.[5]

Nasir Makarim Shirazi explains that because fasting entails hardships and difficulties, this verse employs phrases that prepare the human spirit to accept it. That is why Imam al-Sadiq (a) said the pleasure derived from the address "O you who have faith" is so profound that it mitigates the difficulty of this obligation.[6]

Obligation of Fasting in Pre-Islamic Religions

This verse explicitly states that fasting was obligatory for followers of pre-Islamic religions as well. However, there are various interpretations regarding which religions are meant here and how fasting was obligatory for them. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi mentions three views. Some argue that, like Muslims, they were obliged to fast for several days. Others assert that the verse refers to Christians who were obligated to fast during the month of Ramadan. Additionally, some note the differences in the duration of fasting between Muslims and previous nations.[7]

'Allama Tabataba'i argues that the verse does not aim to specify the manner of fasting in past religions or those for whom fasting was obligatory. Instead, he believes that referencing the obligation of fasting for followers of earlier religions is intended to prepare the minds of Muslims to accept its legislation and overcome its hardships.[8] Moreover, he suggests that the obligation of fasting cannot be found in the existing Torah and Gospel, although fasting has been praised in these books and some Jews and Christians fast, albeit in different ways from Muslims. 'Allama Tabataba'i finally alludes to the stories of Zechariah's (a) and Mary's (a) fasting in the Quran, which were different from Islamic fasting.[9]

Rationale behind Fasting

'Allama Tabataba'i believes that according to Quranic teachings, the consequences of obedience to God or disobedience ultimately return to the individual. In the case of fasting, its consequence has been articulated in the last sentence of this verse: "so that you may be Godwary."[10] Makarim Shirazi also explains the rationale behind the obligation of fasting in terms of this final phrase of the verse, asserting that fasting is effective for fostering piety and God-wariness.[11]


  1. Abū Ḥayyān Andulusī, al-Baḥr al-muḥīṭ, vol. 2, p. 177.
  2. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 5.
  3. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 2, p. 115; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 490; Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 1, p. 385.
  4. ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī, vol. 1, p. 78.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 6.
  6. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 1, p. 624.
  7. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 2, p. 115.
  8. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 5.
  9. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 7.
  10. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 8.
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 1, p. 623-624.


  • Abū Ḥayyān Andulusī, Muḥammad b. Yusuf. Al-Baḥr al-muḥīṭ fī al-tafsīr. Edited by Ṣidqī Muḥammad Jamīl. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1420 AH.
  • ʿAyyāshī, Muḥammad b. Masʿūd al-. Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī. Edited by Rasūlī Maḥallātī. Tehran: al-Maktaba al-ʿIlmiyya al-Islāmiyya, 1380 Sh.
  • Baḥrānī, Hāshim b. Sulaymān al-. Al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Tehran: Bunyād-i Biʿthat, 1416 AH.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, 1380 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Intishārāt-i Islāmī (Jāmiʿat al-Mudarrisīn), 1417 AH.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Tehran: Naṣir Khusruw, 1372 Sh.
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Aḥmad Qaṣīr al-ʿĀmilī. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, [n.d].