Opinion: The importance of Ramadan

The importance of Ramadan

“Ramadan has some surprising physical and mental health benefits….”

By Abrar Shakeel
Reported by Team RK

1 May 2020

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking from dawn until sunset. Ramadan had been the name of the ninth month in Arabian culture long before the arrival of Islam. In the Qur’an it is said that “fasting has been written down (as obligatory upon you, as it was upon those before you” which is a reference to the Jewish practice of fasting on Yom Kippur. Fasting is meant to teach the Muslims patience, modesty and spirituality. Ramadan is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of god and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. Ramadan was the month in which the first verses of the Quran were said to be revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad pbuh. That was during a night that Muslims call Layat al-Qadr. The night is believed to be one of the 10 last days of the month. Ramadan, however, is less a period of atonement than it is a time for Muslims to practice self-restraint, in keeping with sawm, one of the pillars of Islam (the five basic tenets of the Muslim religion). Although sawm is most commonly understood as the to refrain  between dawn and dusk from food, drink, sexual activity, and all forms of immoral behavior, including impure or unkind thoughts. Thus, false words or bad deeds or intentions are as destructive of a fast as is eating or drinking.After the sunset prayer, Muslims gather in their homes or mosques to break their with meal called Iftar. The iftar usually begin with dates as was the custom of Muhammad pbuh or apricots and water or sweetened milk. There are additional prayers, preferably performed in congregation at the mosque. Quran may be recited over the course of the month of Ramadan. To accommodate such acts of worship in the evening, work hours are adjusted during the day and sometimes reduced in some Muslim-majority countries. The Quran indicates that eating and drinking are permissible only until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Thus Muslims in some communities sound drums or ring bells in the predawn hours to remind others that it is time for the meal before dawn, called the Suhur.               

Ramadan fasting is safe for health people, but those with medical conditions should seek medical advice if they encounter health problems before or during during fasting. The fasting period is usually associated with modest weight loss, but weight can returns afterwards.  The education departments of Berlin and United Kingdom have tried to discourage students from fasting during Ramadan, as they claim that not eating or drinking can lead to concentration problems and bad grades. A review of the literature by an Iranian group suggested fasting during Ramadan might produce renal injury in patients with moderate (GFR<60 ml/min) or serve kidney diseases but was not injurious to renal transplant patients with good function or most stone-forming patients.Ramadan fasting can be potentially hazardous for pregnant women as it is associated with risks of inducing labour and causing gestational diabetes, although it does not appear to affect the  child’s weight. It is permissible to not fast if it threatens the women’s or the child’s lives. Although millions around the world have successfully observed the spiritual cleansing of Ramadan For more than a thousand years, some people fear that fasting over such a long period time will have detrimental effects on their health. If you’re one of those worriers, then check out these seven health benefits you’ll enjoy during and after Ramadan. Dates Although three dates are eaten at the start of Iftar every day during Ramadan for spiritual reasons, they also come with the added bonus of multiple health benefits. One of the most important aspects of fasting is getting the right amount of energy, and considering an average serving of dates contains 31 grams (just over 1 oz) of carbohydrates, this is one of the perfect foods to give you a boost. Dates are also a great way of getting some much-needed fibre, which will aid and improve digestion throughout Ramadan. Add to that their high levels of potassium, magnesium and B vitamins, and it quickly becomes apparent that dates are one of the healthiest fruits out there Boost Your Brain No doubt you’ll be aware of the positive effects fasting can have on your mental wellbeing and spiritual focus, but the brain-boosting powers of Ramadan are even more significant than you might think. A study carried out by scientists in the USA found that the mental focus achieved during Ramadan increases the level of brain-derived neurotropic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function. Likewise, a distinct reduction in the amount of the hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, means that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after Ramadan. Ditch Bad Habits Because you will be fasting during the day, Ramadan is the perfect time to ditch your bad habits for good. Vices such as smoking and sugary foods should not be indulged during Ramadan, and as you abstain from them your body will gradually acclimatise to their absence, until your addiction is kicked for good. It’s also much easier to quit habits when you do so in a group, which should be easy to find during Ramadan. Fasting’s ability to help you cut out bad habits is so significant that the UK’s National Health Service recommends it as the ideal time to ditch smoking. Lower Cholesterol We all know that weight loss is one of the possible physical outcomes of fasting during Ramadan, but there’s also a whole host of healthy changes going on behind the scenes. A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people observing Ramadan enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood. Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. What’s more, if you follow a healthy diet after Ramadan, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain. Lasting Appetite Reduction One of the main problems with extreme fad diets is that any weight lost is often quickly put back on, sometimes even with a little added extra. This isn’t the case with Ramadan. The reduction in food consumed throughout fasting causes your stomach to gradually shrink, meaning you’ll need to eat less food to feel full. If you want to get into the habit of healthy eating then Ramadan is a great time to start. When it’s finished your appetite will be lower than it was before, and you’ll be far less likely to overindulge with your eating. Detoxify As well as being great for spiritually cleansing yourself, Ramadan acts as a fantastic detox for your body. By not eating or drinking throughout the day your body will be offered the rare chance to detoxify your digestive system throughout the month. When your body starts eating into fat reserves to create energy, it will also burn away any harmful toxins that might be present in fat deposits. This body cleanse will leave a healthy blank slate behind, and is the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle. Absorb More Nutrients By not eating throughout the day during Ramadan you’ll find that your metabolism becomes more efficient, meaning the amount of nutrients you absorb from food improves. This is because of an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which is produced by a combination of fasting and eating late at night, and allows your muscles to absorb more nutrients. This will lead to health benefits all around the body, as various areas are able to better absorb and make use of the nutrients they need to function. 
EMMPLOYEMENT DURING RAMADAN Muslims continue to work during Ramadan however in some Islamic countries, such as Oman and Lebanon, working hours are shortened. It is often recommended that working Muslims inform their employers if they are fasting, given the potential for the observance to impact performance at work. The extent to which Ramadan observes are protected by religious accommodation varies by country. Policies putting them at a disadvantage compared to other employees have been met with discrimination claims in the United Kingdom and the United States  

CHARITY Zakat, often translated as the poor-rate, is the fixed percentage of income a believer is required to give to the poor; the practice is obligatory as one of the pillars of islam. Muslims believe that good deeds are rewarded more handsomely during Ramadan than at any other time of the year; consequently, many donate large portionor even all of their yearly zakat during this month.Recitation of Quran Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran, which comprises thirty juz (sections), over the thirty days of Ramadan. Some Muslims incorporate a recitation of one juz into each of the thirty tarawih sessions observed during the monthEID The end of the Ramadan fast is celebrated as Eid al-Fitr, the “Feast of Fast-Breaking, which is one of the two major religious holidays of the Muslims calendar (the other, Eid al-Adha, marks the end of the hajj, the pilgrimage to mecca that all Muslims are expected to perform at least once in their lives if they are financially and physically able. In some communities Eid-al-Fitr is quite elaborate: children wear new clothes, women dress in white, gifts are exchanged, the graves of relatives are visited, and people gather for family meals and to pray in mosque.

Written by Abrar Shakeel