2:183 O you who believe! Sawm is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed to those who preceded you,— that you may practice reverence,—
2:183 The word sawm means to abstain from something. Since abstinence from eating is the key part of sawm, it is typically understood as fasting. The word ideally implies refraining from all kinds of eating and passions from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic lunar calendar. The Qur’ān points out, testified by religious history of humankind, that fasting was prescribed and practiced by followers of all religion. In Islam the practice of sawm became an institution in itself, aimed at improving the moral and spiritual condition of man, pointed out at the end of the verse. In order to understand the inner objective of sawm, it is important to note Allāh has given two basic primordial instincts in all living organisms: instinct to preserve the self, and instinct to preserve the species. In order to preserve the first instinct all living organisms need to eat food and in order to preserve the species all living organism need to mate. However, among all living organisms human being, by virtue of their superior faculty, has the unique ability to control his instincts in a social environment. The objective of sawm is to let human being use these abilities, in obedience to divine injunctions, by consciously abstaining from the basic instincts of preservation of self and preservation of species. If a person can restrict these lawful and legal instincts in a disciplined manner, it should be easy for him or her to shun unlawful and illegal evil urges, which are not only injurious to human but also forbidden by God. Due to this reason at the end of the verse a possibility of attaining taqwa (cf. v. 2) is mentioned, since fasting will not automatically qualify a person to reach piety.