Islamic way of fasting for thirty days, keeping oneself away from food, water and material pleasures of life for a whole month, engaging oneself in charity and other good deeds for himself or herself, for the family and society, and getting closer to the Creator is truly unleashing a plethora of benefits according to not just the believers, but in the words of medical professionals and other scholars as well.
A gamut of physical and spiritual reasons is behind the one-month-long fasting by Muslims across the globe although there may be likely ailments such as headache, abdominal pain or acidity and mood swings.
The holy Quran says: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain “Taqwa” (God-consciousness, Self-restraint, God-fearing, Guarding against evil) (2:183).
The basic lesson that fasting teaches to the rich and those who never experienced deprivation of material things in life is being given a unique opportunity to discover the hardship imposed on poor, needy and downtrodden people through fasting.
“A whole lot of health and mental benefits are awaiting the fasting people,” says Dr Parvez Zarif, specialist of internal medicine at the AdLife Hospital.
“They include boosting cognitive performance, protection from obesity and associated chronic diseases, reduction in inflammation, reducing the risk of metabolic disease, lowers cholesterol, supports weight loss and results in the improvement in overall fitness,” said Dr Zarif.
However, mental health awareness is one of the most pressing issues we face in the healthcare industry and society as a whole today, as far as other medical specialists are concerned. For these specialists, the fasting period is also an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves, express our gratitude for what we have, and observe self-control by kicking the bad habits and helping the poor, just as the canons of Ramadhan imply.
“The holy month of Ramadhan is a great opportunity to build stronger relationships with our loved ones. Sharing food, praying together, and distributing food among other things not only helps us feel good but also aids in achieving inner peace. This is the best time to meet people, talk, share our feelings, and resolve issues which in turn will help in mitigating the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues,” says Dr Zaheerudeen Mohamed, Medical Director, Al Hayat International Hospital.
“People who spend quality time together, inevitably influence each other's lives and behaviour. The chances of picking up positive vibes and habits increase dramatically with spending more time with our loved ones, be it, friends or family,” he adds.
Some of the bonus benefits of fasting are:
1) Fasting in the holy month of Ramadhan can be utilised to quit some bad habits. If a person can abstain from smoking cigarettes from dawn to dusk for 30 days, chances are soon he can easily kick the habit from life forever
2) For alcoholics, they can abstain from drinking alcohol from dawn to dusk, they can easily say goodbye to the habit. All intoxicants are forbidden in Islam
3) Fasting gives rest to the body because, during fasting, Muslims abstain from food, drink, etc. during the daytime. While fasting, many organs of the body get rest, which is important for a better health
4) One of the medical benefits of fasting is that it increases intestinal absorption helping the digestive system to work well, and
5) Fasting also lowers cholesterol levels, which prevents several cardiovascular diseases.
Islamic way of fasting is nothing but a process of cleansing our body from impurities while purifying our hearts and minds from all evil thoughts and desires. In conclusion, when someone is fasting, let all his senses - eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet fast with him in order to get both the physical and mental benefits.