An article by Lara AL Dari.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims around the world. It is a time of spiritual renewal, personal reflection, and devotion to God. It is a time when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk, abstaining from food and drink in order to focus their minds and hearts on prayer, contemplation, and acts of charity.
Why do we fast?
One of the main reasons for fasting during Ramadan is to develop self-discipline, self-control, and empathy for those who are less fortunate. We are reminded of all the blessings we have in life (which sometimes might be taken for granted), and we are encouraged to increase our charitable acts.
Benefits of fasting
Aside from the spiritual reasons, fasting has a range of health benefits, such as:
- Lowers insulin sensitivity and regulating blood sugar levels which helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Reduces inflammation in the body and promotes cellular repair.
- Increases stem cell production.
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Improves brain function and reduces the risk of neurological diseases.
- Reduces the risk of cancer by lowering glucose levels in the blood.
Here are the medical journals from which this information is extracted:
– Chaix, A. et al. (2014) ‘Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges’, Cell Metabolism, 20(6), pp. 991–1005. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2014.11.001.
– Di Biase, S. et al. (2016) ‘Fasting-Mimicking Diet Reduces HO-1 to Promote T Cell-Mediated Tumor Cytotoxicity’, Cancer cell, 30(1), pp. 136–146. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2016.06.005
– Brandhorst, S. et al. (2015) ‘A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan’, Cell metabolism, 22(1), pp. 86–99. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2015.05.012.
Who can fast?
Anyone! You don’t have to be religious to participate in Ramadan. Personally, I have many friends who tried fasting for 30 days as a challenge (for fitness and health reasons) and they noticed a range of benefits to their body and mind such as weight loss, improving hormonal imbalance and improving the body’s metabolism.
It is worth mentioning that kids, pregnant or nursing women, women who are menstruating, travellers for long distances, people with chronic illnesses or health conditions are exempt from fasting during Ramadan as it may be difficult or even dangerous for them to do so. Nevertheless, they are still encouraged to engage in charitable acts, as fasting is not the only way to participate in Ramadan.
Why is Ramadan significant?
Ramadan is not just about individual spiritual growth; it is also about community and unity. Muslims around the world come together during this month to share meals, perform acts of charity, and help those in need. It is a time when Muslims are reminded of their shared humanity and their obligation to care for one another, especially the less fortunate.
Ramadan is a reminder that our physical needs are secondary to our spiritual needs, and that our connection to God and to one another is what truly sustains us. It is a time of sacrifice, discipline, and self-reflection, but it is also a time of joy, celebration, and hope.
As we observe Ramadan, let us be mindful of the many blessings in our lives, and let us strive to live in accordance with the principles of compassion, generosity, and love. Let us pray for peace, unity, and harmony in our communities, and let us work together to build a better world for all.