The Spiritual and Health Benefits of Ramadan Fasting
Shahid Athar Md
you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed
to those before you so that you can learn Taqwa" (Quran
Arabic word Taqwa is translated in many ways including God
consciousness, God fearing, piety, and self restraining.
Thus we are asked to fast daily for one month from dawn
to dusk and avoid food, water, sex and vulgar talk during
why do we need to fast?
is our experience that temptations and ways of the world
tend to spoil our purity and austerity. Thus we indulge
in food all of the time, snacking and nibbling the whole
day, heading to obesity. We drink too much coffee, or tea,
or carbonated drinks. Some sexaholics can not stay away
from sex unless they do it at least once or more a day.
When we argue, we leave our decency aside and resort to
vulgar talk and even physical fighting.
when one is fasting, he or she cannot do all of that. When
he looks at the mouth watering food, he cannot even taste
it and he has to give up snacking and nibbling as well as
smoking cigarettes if he does. No constant coffee, tea or
Coke drinking either. Sexual passions have to be curtailed
and when he is provoked to fight, he says " I am fasting
that I cannot respond to your provocation". To achieve
God consciousness or God nearness, a better word, we are
advised to do additional prayer and read the Quran.
Benefits of Ramadan
do not fast because of medical benefits which are of a secondary
nature. Fasting has been used by patients for weight management,
to rest the digestive tract and for lowering lipids. There
are many adverse effects of total fasting as well as of
crash diets. Islamic fasting is different from such diet
plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition
or inadequate calorie intake. The calorie intake of Muslims
during Ramadan is at or slightly below the nutritional requirement
guidelines. In addition, the fasting in Ramadan is voluntarily
taken and is not a prescribed imposition from the physician.
is a month of self-regulation and self training, with the
hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan.
If the lessons learned during Ramadan, whether in terms
of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after
Ramadan, there effects will be long lasting. Moreover, the
type of food taken during Ramadan does not have any selective
criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein
only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible
is taken in moderate quantities.
difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing
of the food; during Ramadan, we basically miss lunch and
take an early breakfast and do not eat until dusk. Abstinence
from water for 8 to 10 hours is not necessarily bad for
health and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids
within the body, producing slight dehydration. The body
has its own water conservation mechanism; in fact, it has
been shown that slight dehydration and water conservation,
at least in plant life, improve their longevity.
physiological effect of fasting includes lowering of blood
sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic
blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal
recommendation for the treatment of mild to moderate, stable,
non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension.
1994 the first International Congress on "Health and
Ramadan", held in Casablanca, entered 50 extensive
studies on the medical ethics of fasting. While improvement
in many medical conditions was noted; however, in no way
did fasting worsen any patients' health or their baseline
medical condition. On the other hand, patients who are suffering
from severe diseases, whether type I diabetes or coronary
artery disease, kidney stones, etc., are exempt from fasting
and should not be allowed to fast.
are psychological effects of fasting as well. There is a
peace and tranquility for those who fast during the month
of Ramadan. Personal hostility is at a minimum, and the
crime rate decreases. Muslims take advice from the Prophet
who said, "If one slanders you or aggresses against
you, say I am fasting." This psychological improvement
could be related to better stabilization of blood glucose
during fasting as hypoglycemia after eating, aggravates
behavior changes. There is a beneficial effect of extra
prayer at night. This not only helps with better utilization
of food but also helps in energy output. There are 10 extra
calories output for each unit of the prayer. Again, we do
not do prayers for exercise, but a mild movement of the
joints with extra calorie utilization is a better form of
exercise. Similarly, recitation of the Quran not only produces
a tranquility of heart and mind, but improves the memory.
of the odd nights in the last 10 days of Ramadan is called
the night of power when angels descend down, and take the
prayer of worship to God for acceptance.
is a special act of worship which is only between humans
and God since no one else knows for sure if this person
is actually fasting. Thus God says in hadith qudsi that
"Fasting is for Me and I only will reward it".
In another hadith, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)
has said "If one does not give up falsehoods in words
and actions, God has no need of him giving up food and drink".
CrescentLife, The Internet.