Thursday October 11th marked the end of the month of Ramadan for Tampa Muslims. Many of you might have encountered a fellow Muslim student that was fasting and thought to yourself “Why in the world would they do such a thing?”
Fasting has a number of benefits from health to spiritual. Every year in the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It is a practice of discipline and a requirement for every Muslim who is physically able to do so.
In the Islamic Quran it is written “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become conscious of God” (2:183).
This is one of the several verses in which God commands Muslims to fast. Fasting is an integral part of religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Throughout history God has sent messengers time and time again. Fasting is one of the practices that have been commonly done by the “people of the book” who followed the messengers of God.
The main focus of fasting is to elevate spiritual and cognitive awareness of God. Through it, a person is able to rise above the most basic instincive inclinations and carnal desires to acquire control over themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is sort of like freedom from the bondage of wants and whims.
While fasting, a person is required to adhere to the highest moral conduct and character.
Principles such as patience, generosity, courteousness, truthfulness, kindness, integrity, and many others are more deliberately and whole-heartedly emphasized.
All sinful actions must be abstained from. That even includes foul speech, such as backbiting, slander, cursing, and obscenity.
The effects of fasting are not intended to be exclusive to the month of Ramadan. On the contrary, the result is permanent growth in character and momentous spiritual revitalization.
To say in a word, fasting promotes the development of piety and morality, as well as breaking bad habits and making good ones, to stay with an individual even after Ramadan.
Furthermore, this month cultivates and promotes unity. At sunset, Muslims gather together with friends and family in their homes and at the mosques to share their food and enjoy each other’s company.
After eating, drinking, and socializing they pray together for a part of the night. Another aspect of Ramadan is it gives a person a taste of the struggle that many people around the world endure for much of their lives; hunger and thirst.
In turn, people who fast are reminded of this global issue and are moved to relieve their societies of poverty. That is why Muslims around the world are even more charitable during Ramadan.
The health benefits of fasting are substantial for those that are physically capable of fasting. In the process of fasting the body disposes of toxins that have been built up in our fat storages throughout the year.
During the interim of this practice, the body undergoes a natural healing process, repairing all damaged organs. There are a number of studies that indicates fasting promotes the transition to more healthy eating habits and is a stepping stone for those suffering from eating disorders.
In addition, it dramatically reduces symptoms to overcome smoking, drug, or alcohol addictions.
The human heart benefits from fasting because during its process there are no consumptions, which improves the heart beat.
It manages metabolism aggravation by reducing acidity. Internal stomach muscles naturally become stronger due to abstinence from rigorous digestion activity.
Medical Doctor William Esser author of the book The Dictionary of Natural Foods stated “Fasting, or the abstinence from food, is a means used in nature by all creatures from the beginning of time. Either by instinct or intelligence this means has been used to assist the body to relieve itself from discomfort, pain and disease.”
The concept of fasting is to give up something we value for an even higher cause. This is a practice of discipline that reveals the ability overcome habitual challenges. It has been psychologically suggested that developing or remvoving a habit can be done in a short period of a few weeks.
These are a few of the many explicit and implicit benefits of Islamic fasting.
The Muslim Student Association and Diversity Fellowship will be holding a Fast-A-Thon on Wednesday October 24, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in the Plant Hall Music Room. This is an opportunity to explore first-hand and learn the process of fasting in Islam. There will be a free dinner for breaking fast at sunset.