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Ramadan 2024: What is it and why should one do it?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which Muslims worldwide observe fasting from dawn until sunset. It holds significant spiritual importance as it commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Fasting during Ramadan involves abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and other physical needs during daylight hours, with an emphasis on self-discipline, self-reflection, and increased devotion to worship and acts of charity.

Muslims fast during Ramadan as an act of worship and obedience to Allah (God) and to attain spiritual growth. It serves as a time for purification of the soul, fostering empathy for the less fortunate, and strengthening bonds with family and community. Through fasting, Muslims seek to increase their mindfulness, gratitude, and connection to their faith. Additionally, Ramadan encourages self-discipline, self-control, and the cultivation of virtuous habits that can be carried forward beyond the month of fasting.

Muslims open their fast using dates and water. They prioritize reciting the entire Quran during this month as it is the month that their holy book was revealed to them. Photo by khats cassim

While fasting during Ramadan is a religious obligation for Muslims, there are several potential health benefits that has encouraged individuals from all backgrounds to try it:

Promotes Discipline and Self-Control: Fasting teaches discipline and self-control over one’s desires, which can be beneficial in various aspects of life beyond the religious context.

Improves Mental Clarity: Some people experience increased mental clarity and focus during fasting, as the body conserves energy typically used for digestion, leading to heightened cognitive function.

Encourages Weight Loss: Fasting can lead to calorie restriction, aiding in weight loss when done sensibly. Additionally, fasting may promote fat burning and improve metabolic health.

Enhances Digestive Health: Intermittent fasting, such as the pattern observed during Ramadan, can give the digestive system a break, potentially reducing the risk of digestive issues and promoting gut health.

Regulates Blood Sugar Levels: Fasting may improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels, potentially lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Promotes Heart Health: Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and inflammation, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

Boosts Immune Function: Fasting may stimulate autophagy, a process that helps remove damaged cells and regenerate new ones, leading to a stronger immune system.

When opening their fasts it is encouraged to sit with your loved ones and share the food across the table as a sign of togetherness, love and gratitude. Photo by Thirdman

However, it’s essential to approach fasting with caution, especially if you have underlying health conditions or dietary restrictions. Consulting with a healthcare professional before attempting fasting is advisable to ensure it’s safe and suitable for your individual health needs. Additionally, staying hydrated and consuming balanced meals during non-fasting hours is crucial to maintain health and well-being while fasting. Observing Ramadan is regarded as a means to attain spiritual renewal, personal growth, and a deeper connection to one’s faith, while also promoting empathy, solidarity, and compassion towards others in the community.

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