The month of Ramadan, that we are currently in, is a holy month that is eagerly and enthusiastically awaited by the whole Islamic world. It is so because the Quran, which brings people from darkness into light, to the path of our Lord- the all Merciful and Most Beneficent, was sent down in this month. Fasting during this month is an obligation for Muslims, and an opportunity for them to praise the infinite grace and blessings of Almighty Lord. It is also a physical and spiritual healing; a gift, and a month of blessings, abundance, an opportunity to repent for past behaviour and to seek for mercy from our Lord.
Biological benefits of fasting
All Muslims fast to gain our Lord’s pleasure. Moreover, it also is very beneficial for our bodies.
Stomach at rest
First of all, fasting allows the organs to take some time off and rest. For instance, during fasting, the digestion processes are reduced, and the stomach gets to rest for quite some time. Its epithelia tissue can be renewed completely, which helps the stomach to function in a healthier manner during the rest of the year.
Live with a healthy liver
Fasting also allows the liver, which works non-stop in normal times, to rest for six or more hours. Normally, it is active even when we are asleep, but while fasting, it also finds the chance to rest. Since the volume of blood circulating drops, the heart and the primary veins feeding it are regenerated.
Fasting helps cell regeneration, making our bodies and minds healthier and it slows down aging. It also helps protect us from obesity, fat building, cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases. It contributes to purging our bodies from harmful toxins. While fasting, fat enzymes kick in and help burn fat, creating a condition similar to the effect of a workout session. Even after the 30 days of fasting, the body continues to burn fat at this rate. Normally, during the day, an individual eats without thinking, causing an imbalance in the body. However, when one fasts, because he or she eats only at certain times during the day, the immune system will not have to function unnecessarily, which in turn gives enough time to the immune system to renew itself. The body, because it doesn’t have to deal with time-consuming metabolic activities, can more easily identify harmful cell formations like cancer; and hence, destroys them at the beginning.
Just like all other religious practices, fasting also intensifies the spirituality of Muslims. It makes them witnesses to each other’s sincere faith in their Lord, their loyalty, patience and sincere efforts, making their fraternal bonds even stronger; and it also reinforces their love and compassion for each other. Muslims, due to this brotherly bond they have, work to eliminate all kinds of negativity that can disturb the sense of calm; and try to build atmospheres of love, peace and serenity for all. They know that their Muslim brothers are also poor servants of Almighty Lord- just like themselves- hoping to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure; therefore, their feelings of love, solidarity and compassion for one another only intensify in this holy month.
Muslims shun not only eating and drinking during fasting hours, but they also shun bad actions, such as lying, gossiping, saying hurtful words, insulting people or getting angry. They ponder about thirst and hunger; and remember that poor people need their help and understand the importance of helping them. Regardless of their financial standing, they begin to make their greatest efforts to help the poor. They follow their conscience and not their lower-self; and constantly improve themselves in their quest for complying with the Quran even more sincerely.
Earn a life-time validity for spirituality
A pious Muslim, who fears his Lord, deeply displays this beautiful character of fasting in every moment of his life. He follows the Quran fully throughout his life, and works to live by the morality he hopes that Allah (swt) will approve of.
It should not be forgotten that this is a behaviour that Allah (swt) approves of. However, anything to the contrary – in other words, observing religious practices only in the month of Ramadan, and then walking away from the Quran’s morality after it ends – is something that displeases Allah (swt) greatly. Therefore, let us endeavour to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive throughout the year, and always strive to earn Allah’s (swt) good pleasure, no matter what month we are in.