Fasting we know is a very meritorious act and in fact is one of the pillars of Islam with fasting being compulsory during the Holy month of Ramadhan.
The reward for fasting is tremendous and probably the greatest virtue of fasting is the famous Hadith-e-Qudsi wherein Allah himself says:
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ”قال الله عز وجل: كل عمل ابن آدم له إلا الصيام، فإنه لي وأنا أجزي به.
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah RA reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Allah the Exalted and Majestic said: ‘Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except As-Siyam (the fasting) which is (exclusively) for Me, and I will reward him for it.’ [Bukhari and Muslim]
We are encouraged to take our pattern and inspiration from the model of our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, both as to his attitudes and as to his practices. He of course fasted daily throughout Ramadan without “days off.”
By all accounts, his diet was much sparser than the tremendous variety we have available today. He could not look forward to an ifṭar (fast-breaking) banquet. Yet throughout the year he fasted recurrently on semi-fixed days and for special occasions; and he regularly spent long nights in Prayer with his Lord, reciting the verses of Guidance that had been entrusted to him for mankind’s benefit.
The direct connection is clear for us, too, between fasting and closeness to Allah, mediating both an awareness of His Presence and facilitating a reception of His Guidance offered to “him who wills to be guided.”
So the fast of Ramadhan is obligatory and we now allowed to leave it out, accept in exceptional circumstances.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ never neglected the Ramadhan fast, but it is his fasting out of the month of Ramadhan which is truly inspirational.
After all was it not the Prophet ﷺ who praised the fast of Dawud عليه السلام.
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ أَحَبَّ الصِّيَامِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صِيَامُ دَاوُدَ وَأَحَبَّ الصَّلَاةِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صَلَاةُ دَاوُدَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام كَانَ يَنَامُ نِصْفَ اللَّيْلِ وَيَقُومُ ثُلُثَهُ وَيَنَامُ سُدُسَهُ وَكَانَ يَصُومُ يَوْمًا وَيُفْطِرُ يَوْمًا
Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Amr RA reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily, the most beloved fasting to Allah is the fasting of Dawud and the most beloved prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawud, upon him be peace. He would sleep half of the night and stand in prayer for a third of it and then sleep for a sixth of it. He would fast every other day.” [Bukhari and Muslim].
It is well-known that the Prophet ﷺ loved fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ تُعْرَضُ الْأَعْمَالُ يَوْمَ الِاثْنَيْنِ وَالْخَمِيسِ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُعْرَضَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ
Hadhrat Abu Huraira RA reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The deeds are presented on Monday and Thursday. Thus, I love for my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.” [al – Tirmidhi].
He also encouraged fasting on the “white days” or Ayaam-ul-beedh.
عن أبي ذر قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ إِذَا صُمْتَ مِنْ الشَّهْرِ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ فَصُمْ ثَلَاثَ عَشْرَةَ وَأَرْبَعَ عَشْرَةَ وَخَمْسَ عَشْرَةَ
Hadhrat Abu Dharr RA reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “O Abu Dharr, if you are going to fast three days of the month, then fast on the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth days.” [al -Tirmidhi].
Aside from the days on which it is forbidden to fast – the two days of Eid, the three days of Al-Tashreeq (11th, 12th, 13th of Dhul-Hijjah), the Prophet ﷺ would fast intermittently throughout the year.