God created humanity, never turned them adrift, and through his prophets, he has shown humanity the path of truth. God didn't even deprive His Holiness Adam, the first man, from this blessing, and assigned him also as a prophet since there were no other humans on earth other than him. Thousands more prophets were sent after him, and each of them issued their message to their community with written articles or vocally. As we can understand from the versicle “We won't torment (to any community) as long as we don't dispatch a prophet.” (İsra, 15), all the prophets actually tried to issue the same messages through different methods to the communities to which they were dispatched. Muhammad Mustafa, the last ring of the prophets' chain, had been assigned with the task to issue all the truths, taught by the prophets to their related communities, to the whole humanity by sending him the biggest miracle, the Quran. In other words, while the previous prophets' duties were limited with the communities they were dispatched to, His Holiness Muhammad's prophecy is universal.
In the Quran, it's being stated that many previous communities were addressed to this service, and this reality is being emphasized way more clearly in the versicles related with fasting. Such that; “Oh believers! Fasting had been set as a religious service for the ones before you, and it has been set as a religious service for you for limited days so that you will avoid objecting to God. If there are some sick or travelling people, they will fast the number of days they couldn't afterwards. People who can't fast will pay ransom enough to satisfy a devotee. Whoever does kindness from their hearts, they are the kindness themselves. Fasting is propitious for you if you know about it.” (Bakara, 183 – 184)
In this versicle, it's being stated that fasting had been set as a religious service to the past communities as well. However, those communities failed to preserve their fasting properly. In some communities, even though it has some similarities with the fasting of Islam, it had undergone a change substantially and turned into some type of a diet. We can give a couple more examples in chronological accordance. The members of religions existing in India and Far East are fasting by means of not eating meat and milk. They are not eating or drinking anything other than a gulp of water during their fasting. Members of those religions believe that by staying hungry and experiencing pain they can discipline their desires and reach salvation – Nirvana –. For example, in some important days, like religious holidays, Jewish people fast from sunrise to sunset or from an overnight to other in a diet fashion. In Christianity, there are thanksgiving fasting and church fasting, and during those fasting periods people fast by not eating certain meals on certain religious days. However, there are quite big differences between the churches. However, despite all those differences, the prominent implementations in the mystic lives of the members of the religions we've exampled above are confirming the Quran, which states that the fasting service had been set as a religious service for the previous communities also.
The only way to find out “to what extent” those beliefs and ways of worship brought to the communities by prophets had reached the present time is the Quran and the Sunnah. We can say that the ones which are suitable to the Quran and the Sunnah managed to reach our present time. The same thing applies for fasting also. However, after the Quran arrived, it terminated all of them, and invited everyone to Islam's fasting, that is known with its principles, by means of not eating anything or having any sexual intercourse between the designated periods. Such that, the Muslims were encouraged to fast on every occasion. It had been assorted for different occasions, like set fasting, obligatory fasting, Sunnah fasting and “müstehap” fasting. And this important service, which supports and contributes to the patience and willpower training, in our beloved prophet's words, became “a shield that protects Muslims against all evil”; Muslims fasted and fasting kept the Muslims in shape.