Fasting inculcates a sense of fraternity and solidarity, as Muslims will feel and experience that which their needy and hungry brothers and sisters feel; however, even the poor, needy, and hungry may participate in the fast.
Moreover, Ramadan is a month of giving charity and sharing meals to break the fast together, the latter offering more reward than if eating alone.
As briefly mentioned earlier, fasting can also be observed voluntarily (as part of the Greater Jihad ): Sawm is intended to teach believers patience and self-control in their personal conduct, to help control passions and temper, to provide time for meditation and to strengthen one's faith.
Fasting also serves the purpose of cleansing the inner soul and freeing it of harm.
Most importantly, the fast is also seen as a great sign of obedience by the believer to Allah. Faithful observance of the Sawm is believed to atone for personal faults and misdeeds and to help earn a place in paradise.
While fasting in the month of Ramadan is considered Fard (obligatory), Islam also prescribed certain days for non-obligatory, voluntary fasting, such as:
each Monday and Thursday of a week
the 13th, 14th, and 15th day of each lunar month
six days in the month of Shawwal (the month following Ramadan)
the Day of Arafat (9th of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar)
the Day of Ashuraa (10th of Muharram in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar), with one more day of fasting before or after it. Times when fasting is forbidden