Ramadan deepens connections with world, community, oneself

The month of Ramadan is considered the holiest month of the year for 2 billion people across the globe. This year, Ramadan started on the May 5 with the sight of the crescent moon and will end around the beginning of June with, again, the sight of the crescent moon. 

Although Ramadan is most commonly known as the time of the year when Muslims find joy in starving themselves from sunrise to sunset, it is not simply an exercise of fasting throughout the day, binging on food during the night, and setting an alarm clock to the morning’s wee hours for those who incline to rise for the pre-dawn meal. 

During this time, Muslims go through what one may call both a physical and a spiritual detox in a sense to reach a greater consciousness of their bodies, their spiritual state and matters surrounding them.

Muslims were commanded to fast more than 1,400 years ago. The ancient Greeks also recommended fasting to heal the body, and more and more scientists today are advocating for a modified fast for its mental and physical benefits.

Experts have found that the reasonable restriction of food intake can help prevent health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity, as well as improve mental health and wellbeing.

Abstaining from food causes the human body to concentrate on removing toxins as a result of giving the digestive system a rest. 

Once done right, the bestseller author and documentary producer Michael Mosley swears by its benefits to the body. “The proven benefits include improved sleep and evidence of reduced risk of some cancers, in particular, breast cancer,” he said. “Fasting allows the gut to cleanse and strengthens its lining. It can also stimulate a process called autophagy, which is where cells self-cleanse and remove damaged and dangerous particles. 

“This has been shown to protect brain cells and could reduce depression and anxiety, as well as the risk of developing dementia.”

It is important to keep in mind that Islam advises those who are young, elderly, pregnant, traveling, athletes and have medical conditions not to fast. 

The Quran, holy book of Islam, says, “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who were before you, in order that you may learn taqwa (piety).”

Taqwa is a very important spiritual and ethical term in Islam; it requires patience and perseverance, which the act of fasting teaches. It is a quality in a believer’s life that is described as a person who loves to do good and avoid evil for the sake of God. 

Especially during fast, Muslims should spend special effort and abstain from all false talk and deeds, quarrels, disputes, arguments, bad words and anything else that is forbidden, for they clash with the overall purpose of the fast. 

Instead, Islam advises that one spends special effort to discipline oneself morally and ethically, be a person with good vibes and good cheer, do good acts and charity, empathize, respect or one’s body, respect the food one consumes, be conscious of the environment,  surroundings and communities. 

Junior Aleena Ghumman observes Ramadan and said that “Ramadan to me is a month of purity, and I just love the community aspect of it so much. Knowing that you aren’t alone, alongside letting other people know they’re not alone, is a great feeling. Knowing not everyone shares the same privileges and being able to empathize with them, even though for a  temporary time, is a very thoughtful, moving and a teaching experience.”

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