Ramadan, which has millions of Muslims all over the world observing their first fast today for the year 2019, is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The month of Ramadan was announced with the sighting of the new moon or the crescent the evening before, that is Monday, fasting began.
This religious ritual is observed by Muslims all over the world, abstaining from food and drink dawn to dusk. In other other words, this means staying without food and water for up 16 hours. Islamic clerics explain that fasting is aimed at drawer the believers closer to God through self-control, remembrance and humility. Many Muslims take the chance of this holy month to reset themselves physically, mentally emotionally and spiritually away from the worldly things, kick away bad habits and purify their heart and soul. They focus on reciting the Al-Quran, prayers and charity. Fasting is not obligatory or forced onto the children, sick, pregnant, nursing and menstruating women.
Nutritional specialist Dr Charlotte Prout-Jones says fasting is one of the most powerful tools for healing. Prout-Jones explains there are spiritual benefits to fasting but adds that in order to maintain the health benefits, one needs to be careful how they break the fast. Muslims break their fast at sunset, with families and friends gathering together for iftar which usually consists of dates, fruits, water and juice. This is followed by the magrib prayer. Fasting for health reasons needs to be longer than 12- hours, explains Prout-James. She says the deep healing only takes place after the third day but one shouldn’t withhold water as it is vital in flushing out toxins. “Many bodily fluids are dependent on water. As you go from the third day onwards, then you go into the therapeutic healing process, which is the ultimate of healing.” Moreover, fasting in general has been used in medicine for medical reasons including weight management, rest and healing of the digestive tract and for lowering lipids. However, Islamic fasting is different because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake.
Ramadan is a month of piety, a month of self-regulation and self-training with the hope that this goes beyond. If the lessons learning during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness are carried on beyond the holy month, it is beneficial for one’s entire life.