By Munib Abbas
Originally posted at Medicos Life 26
The month of Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims around the globe. It is the 9th month in the Muslim calendar and holds an extremely important position in Islam. Muslims fast for the whole month of Ramadan. Another importance of this month is that the holy book of Muslims, ‘Quran’ was revealed to Prophet Muhammad PBUH during this month.
In the Quran, Allah says:
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan), he must fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” (2: 185).
Duration of Fasting
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset which makes it a fast of 12-18 hours. The duration differs around different geographic regions of the world. For example, people of Pakistan and India observe a fast of 16 hours, people of Australia and New Zealand of 11.5 hours, UK 18.5 hours whereas Norway for 20 hours.
Health and Fasting
Scientific research backs the health benefits of fasting and the positive effects it has on our body. There is a global trend with regards to fitness and health known as ‘Intermittent fasting’ which resembles a lot to the fast that Muslims practice in the month of Ramadan.
Here are some of the health benefits of fasting:
Intermittent fasting improves the brain functions and helps in sharper reflex response. It also helps in the growth and maturation of new brain cells as a result it reduces the chances of brain diseases such as ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ and dementia (memory loss).
Slows Down Aging:
Recent researches show that fasting may slow the process of aging along with reducing the risk of cancer and other cellular abnormalities in the human body.
Fasting may play a great role in reducing the fat percentage and decreasing obesity in an individual provided the fact that people refrain from eating deep-fried/junk food and opt for healthier options instead, like fruits, vegetables, lentils, etc.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes:
It is found fasting reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and even helps to reduce the chance of diabetes in the pre-diabetic patients. Doctors also recommend fasting for controlling the health issues of pre-diabetic patients.
People Exempted from Fasting in Ramadan
People who are asked to refrain from fasting in Ramadan include travelers, children who have not hit their puberty yet, menstruating women, severely ill, people facing some other medical condition, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding.
Sick and Travellers
“And whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days.”[Al-Baqarah 2:185]
If the sickness is permanent and there is no hope of recovery, then that person must feed one poor person for each day that he hasn’t fasted in this Ramadan:
“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)”[Al-Baqarah 2:184]
Ibn ‘Abbas said:
This refers to the old man or old woman who cannot fast, so for each day they should feed one poor person. This was narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4505.
The sick person who has no hope of recovery comes under the same
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