Plus - Letter to the Editor

Fasting – not feasting – is the spirit of Islam

As usual, with much anticipation, we welcome the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast, perform extended prayers and engage in charitable acts to thank Almighty Allah for his benevolence and countless bounties and to beseech Him for salvation of our souls.

However, contrary to the spirit of fasting, more attention is given to food preparation during this month. This defeats the very purpose of fasting. Ramadan fasting is not only an act of worship to purify the soul from malice and malevolence and feel the hunger of the deprived, but also an act that cleanses the body. This act of purification results in psychological and physiological equilibrium, restoring harmony to the body, mind, and soul. According to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “Fast and you will gain health.”

Rather than an array of mouth-watering food fit for feasts, lighter meals such as salads, grains, legumes, or vegetable soups would be more appropriate for breaking fasts. We must put an end to eating this unhealthy food and resort to our healthier old customs of breaking fast -- eating, and fasting in a manner befitting the true Islamic notion of Ramadan.

Fasting slows down the metabolism; regenerates energy, cells, and organs; detoxifies various body systems; and breaks down fat tissues, restoring health. Scientists believe that when the body finds no food supply, it feeds on waste that obstructs its functions. By consuming its own undesirable residue of degenerated (cancer) cells, harmful bacteria, cysts, lumps, skin pockets, and mineral-buildup in bones, joints, organs, and soft tissues, the body rejuvenates itself. During the process, the blood soaks in toxic compounds from the digestive tract and circulates them around the body for elimination.

This explains the resulting headaches and fatigue during the first few days of fasting. These are normal side-effects of detoxification. To relieve such debilitating after-effects and restore energy, we should drink lots of water, after iftar (breaking fast) until sahar (the meal before fast begins). We should maintain a high fluid intake, avoiding consumption of fried, syrupy disserts, and refined, processed, or fatty foods to benefit from the purge. We must resort to the practice of Prophet Muhammad who broke fast with dates and water, which our body needs more and more. Can we stop for a moment to listen to our body needs rather than impulses?

Water has become an overlooked nutrient in our diet. All the functions of our body depend on water. With dehydration, body, brain, and organs start to suffer, resulting in urinary tract infections, headaches, acid reflux, constipation, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and bad breath, whereas a glass of water at iftar would give a burst of energy to the lethargic body and mind. As an energy provider, water hydrates the vascular, digestive, hormonal, glandular, circulatory, and immune systems, which depend on it for functional efficacy. Allah, our creator, reminds us in the Quran, “...And We have created all living things from water...” (Chapter: 21; verse: 30).

Older citizens should be reminded to drink as their sensation of thirst diminishes with age, leading to dehydration and complications.

Water also prevents memory loss and poor concentration. School children should drink water (not soda drinks) after iftar to improve their ability to learn and focus.

Fasting, prayers, and charity are healing and rewarding to body, mind, and soul. Such are the benefits of this holy month. According to the Holy Quran, “God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to have hardship”. We pray to Allah to grant us guidance and strength to perform His commands in the required manner.

Ramadan Mubarak to all.

Sawmeer Khan, Anuradhapura

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