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Health

Benefits of fasting

Fasting is an obedience to Allah the Almighty

We can never talk about negative and positive things in Islam like politic or phylosophy or science but only positive things. Only nice things and good things. All the Islam principles and practices are beneficial for the humanity since it is from God, Allah the Almighty subhanah Wa Taala (SBW). Our God Cannot make right and wrong things but only right things, He SWT saves us from any hostility in our life through the obedience to him and through worshipping which is the best relationship between God the creator and man the creature, so better worship the creator not the creature. Many people mistakenly believe that Ramadan is a hard practice and Islam is a hard religion. But if they really think of what fasting can do for saving people from both psychological and physical diseases, they then get convinced about fasting.

Fasting is an obedience to Allah the almighty, who said in the holy Quran: O believers, prescribed for you is the fast, even as it was prescribed for those that were before you haply you will be Allah fearing.

يا أيها الذين آمنوا كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون      البقرة

Fasting is a prescribed duty and a private relation between man and his Lord Allah, and which Allah has guaranteed to reward for it. It was na in the Qudsi Hadith that Allah says: Every  act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is meant exclusively for me and I reward for it.

Sure all the people when they talk about Ramadan they may ask why fasting one month? Which seems too long…  And why fasting is so important that it was prescribed by the almighty Allah subhanah Wa Taala as one of the five pillars of  Islam? Yes theses questions are objectively logic, but they may require strong and convincing answers and arguments. Reasons are to be given to prove the high level the muslim may reach in the life. It is not easy to respond to these questions which may appear simple. These questions arise from a peculiar state of disease within the imagination due to a large lack of knowledge. This unfounded fear about fasting is what makes the difference between Muslims and non Muslims, and makes also the difference between fasting and starvation, the former is well defined but the later is not defined.

There is a clear difference between fasting which is a strict designation of  Islam and starvation or diet which is a scientific definition. Yet the role of fasting is first an endeavor to God SWT. It the most important way to obey and to pray Allah the Almighty. People do not fast for health care or for losing weight but they fast because it is an obligation and an Ibada to reach a higher level. People may seek the forgiveness and rewarding from Allah first, and as a reward from Allah, He gives us a healthy body and a wise state (psychologic).

Non Muslim people can never understand what really Fasting means, they only think, with an unfounded fear, about eating and drinking and they are afraid from not eating and not drinking as without them one should dye immediately. But they do not know that God could never recommend wrong things and could never do bad things. God the Almighty had sure not prescribed Fasting for torturing the people. He prescribes Fasting for its medical benefits, social education and economic advantages for the society. Ramadan is like a milestone in the year we should stop by and review our acts, it is an appointment with God to check everything and to see if the way we are following is right or wrong.

Fasting is different from starvation. Starvation is not only physical but also psychologic. This can be argued by Annyah which is an important condition for a correct and acceptable fasting. Annyah is when you decide definitely to do something with a strong well, so it is associated to an extreme concentration which is an update of reprogramming the body to do something. Suppose that you are ajumping athlete, you can never reach a high performance without an extreme concentration. This means that the body is well prepared to undergo any situation and to face any unfavorable condition. Fasting without annyah is very hard and people can never face a complete abstinence from all substances drinking and eating also from sexual activities without any psychologic preparation.

God Allah the Almighty teaches us how to face hard situations and how to undergo unfavorable conditions. This what makes Muslim people strong in decisions and strong in hard situations Ramadan may learn us the endurance in life and this point is a high sign of fasting and is among the renewable miracles in Quran and Sunnah.

Annyah is also a strong factor for a self control of the personality, one can never stop eating and drinking constantly from dawn to sunset during one month by himself. Muslims by their faith and trust in God do that easily since they know that they are controlled by God. So morally they can never cheat with god and they can never feel any weakness during fasting.

When individuals try to fast or to make dietary changes without experience, they often get frustrated. Fasting for the first time will make you feel sick. Symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain and bloating, joint pain, headaches, skin rashes, irritability, depression, etc… are just a few of the common problems that can arises as the body starts eliminating toxins and metabolic byproducts. It is difficult to get people to practice new healthful living habits for long unless they have a strong well to do so.

Up to now and even in developed countries, no practice or training can learn to people how to be strong in mind and how to be wise in decisions and how to face hard situations.

Medical benefits of Fasting

Fasting would sure allow the body to reveal the  baseline status and is also a natural mean used by all living creators to relieve the body from discomfort and diseases. Temporary omission of food leads to a well restoration of health and wholeness. So all the functions inside the body is repaired and restored as it was before the abnormal state of the body.

Most of diseases came from  the digestive system especially metabolic ones, the nature and the amount of food administered to the body may sure have an effect, there is no way to control or to monitor the food intake other than fasting, God the Almighty who had created the body knows what is right and what is wrong so The Muslim life is well organized  and protected if he can follow what his Lord wants him to do and how his Lord wants him to live. This is the most important point to know and to understand by Muslims since our religion is not only for faith but also for proof and nothing is let to people even some scholars try to make the lifestyle problems to man everything is set by God and indicated as good or bad by God, but the way things should be done in a context of  Jamaa are let to people who may organize them so they could not bother each other.

Hypertension, cardiovascular, obesity, stomach and intestine disorders, kidneys, bladder, prostate, thyroid, dermatitis, hair fall, Sexual problems, menstruation cycles disorder and depression, insomnia, asthma, allergies, Triglycerides, liver, cancers etc… All these diseases are now occurring most frequently and more than before. Two decades ago there was only microbial borne diseases such typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis, anthracnose, dysentery which were eradicated by the antibiotics. Now we  are facing  food borne diseases or too much eating diseases which must result in non treated diseases or hard to treat or to alleviate. The healing process could not be chemical or drug based medicines.

Atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease in which fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. Atherosclerosis is derived from the Greek words athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (meaning hardness). Atherosclerosis is a slow complex disease caused by an accumulation of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and some other compounds which build up in the inner lining of an artery. The borne clog inside the artery may narrow it. This may also may differ depending upon which arteries in the body narrow and become clogged. For example, plaque buildup in the vessels that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood may cause chest pain and lead to a heart attack while plaque buildup in the arteries that supply blood to the brain may result in a stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of illness and death in the United States and most other Western countries. Close to one million deaths per year in the United States alone are attributable to heart disease, double the number of deaths from cancer. Because atherosclerosis is highly preventable and the risk factors are well-documented, preventive measures such as lowering blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, smoking cessation, losing weight, and increasing physical activity should be followed.

Because many people do not have the classic risk factors of atherosclerosis (such as cigarette smoking and high blood pressure), it is possible that there may be other contributing factors or causes of atherosclerosis. The most probable factor is the life style change, so the consumption of animal products such meat, eggs and cheese increased significantly when the physical efforts or exercising is reduced because of the comfortable means for transportation such as cars buses and underground tube etc….

Atherosclerosis shows no symptoms until a complication (such as chest pain or a heart attack) occurs. For this reason, lifestyle choices such as achieving and maintaining a normal weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and reducing stress, are all important steps in preventing atherosclerosis. Nutrition and dietary supplements, such as vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate (vitamin B9) may be effective when used in addition to certain medications

The risk factors are: Lowered levels of the hormone estrogen following menopause  High blood pressure High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and/or high triglycerides, Elevated homocysteine levels, Diabetes mellitus, Insulin resistance, Obesity, particularly in the abdominal region, Sedentary lifestyle, Diets high in saturated fat and trans fatty acids. All these could be monitored by a simple  prevention approach based on the diet. The amount of food is as important as the nature of food. Non animal foods are recommended and Fasting is the most relevant preventive approach for people suffering from these diseases.

The accumulations of food and energy in the body such as an excess of nutrients may lead to some dysfunctions in the body. Physiologically any excess may disturb the balance inside the body, A high fat intake associated to comfort is related to high cholesterol content in blood and obesity which may lead to diabete and or hypertension. Vegetable oils other than olive oil may lead to thyroid disorders. Cancers and asthma are also related to food intake in  nature and in amount.

Fasting is the best healing process for the hypertension. Several people could feel that their tension is well established during Ramadan. When fasting is well performed it may help people suffering a high tension to reduce it. These people should not eat too much during Ramadan so they could omit ;eats and dairy products except churned fermented milk or laban and they may also reduce sugar consumption and no fear about fasting. Hypertension is a very dangerous disease and it is most frequently associated to diabete or high cholesterol content in blood. In These cases, the situation is very worrying about.

There is no sophisticated process for alleviating the cardiovascular problems other than fasting. Some doctors recommend that fasting is very dangerous for these people because they are afraid about heart attack or stoke or any other urgent attack. Fasting is very beneficial for these people and their diseases could be healed if the fasting is well performed with a non meat diet during Ramadan.

Ramadan is the rest period for the digestive system including stomach, intestines, liver etc… Disturbance of the gastrointestinal system including esophagitis, gastritis, colitis, constipation, bloating, and symptoms associated with so-called candidiasis are all alleviated by fasting. Some severe colitis with bleeding through the rectum could be stopped by fasting. After two weeks fasting the pain is resolved and the bowel movements can be blood-free but long fasting periods are required  for a complete healing of the colitis.

Uterine fibroids tumors are also a very bothering problem for physicians, There is no healing procedure for reducing the size of the uterine fibroids other than fasting. Fibroids contributing to pain and excess bleeding are usually removed with the uterus (hysterectomy) but in most cases and even pain bleeding are severe, a  healing procedure other than hysterectomy should be first applied for attempting to  avoid the surgery. The hysterectomy is not recommended for many reasons and it is also not proved. A proper fast will often dramatically reduce the size of these uterine fibroids which are now frequent throughout the world especially in ladies having more than 3 babies.

Ovarian cysts and cervical dysplasia also often respond to fast. It should be assumed that these diseases are hormonal  and since fast is the best regulator of the hormonal system, one will see that hormones related to the ovaries, uterus, prostate, kidneys, and thyroid will be adjusted to their normal values.

How to take advantages from your fast and how to reach all these benefits from Ramadan. This question is very relevant and it should be really respected for a succeeded fast for both faith and health. The change of eating from the day to the night is not a proper fast. One should avoid the increase of the food amount intake during the evening and the rich foods supply during Ramadan such as meats, eggs, fish, and dairy products except milk and fermented milk.

Ramadan had been prescribed by our God Allah SWT the Almighty but how to fast was explained to the Ummah by the Prophet Muhamed Peace be on Him and his companions He is our teacher of Aakida and Chariaa.

How to fast ?

Muslims should adhere to the Sunnah for better and proper doing in Islam. Sunah is a bright glass that reflects the meaning of the Ahkams and obligations toward our God SWT. If we follow our prophet PBH we will sure win the    of Allah SWT. The first rule is to abstain from having too much food in the breakfast. Only simple and easy to digest foods are allowed. Our Prophet used to break the fast with dates or when he could not find dates some water. He went to the Maghrib prayer first this could take at least half hour and then he could eat but not heavy meals for he can pray too long since  Ramadan is for Ibada not for eating and laying cards. The second rule in Sunnah is the omission of the diner meal. There was only Fotour Breakfast and Suhour a last light meal before starting the fast -before the Fajr prayer- the dawn. The third rule is when eating one should not eat too much until a complete stuffing of the stomach. There is a level to which we should stop eating and this level is indicated by the Hadith. The prophet PBH said  The son Adam never fills a bowl worse than his belly. Some bites are enough for man to prop his physique. Had he wished otherwise, then one third for his food, and one third for his drink and one third for his breath.

Let us study these three rules to see if we can talk about them with scientific people. The first rule is recommending dates for breakfast or water instead of and to wait a moment and then eat. It is well assumed that the stomach starts synthesizing chemotrypsine as soon as an object is introduced in it, anything can reach stomach it stimulates the release of chemotrypsine which is the most important enzyme for the digestion of proteins. So we need to stimulate the stomach with an inert object which does not make the stomach irritated so disorders can occur. Dates does not contain protein nor fat but only simple sugars easy to absorb and to take up by the circulating system to increase the glucose level in blood and to supply the cells with energy so the body is saved from fatigue and stress. The dates contain also vitamins such as B6 and B12 which are very important for controlling the nerves and the connecting tissues. Dates contain also the highest quality of the dietary fiber so they go directly to the intestine for preventing constipation which can occur because  of the low food intake during Ramadan. Breaking the fast with dates means stimulating the stomach without irritating it and giving nutrients immediately to the body for restoring the loss during the fasting hours.

Scientifically no doctor, no professor no searcher could recommend breaking the fast with the dates without studying for years and without checking with other specialists. Prophet Muhamed PBH could not do anything by himself but only when told by God.

This is very tangible and can be accepted scientifically since it seem logic and well founded, but what about water. Better stimulate the stomach with no digestible compounds that introducing any other product, and water is the most suitable instead of  dates in case one cannot find them. Water may pass directly to the intestine after it is heated in the stomach so it would at least drive the acid gastric secretion making a mechanic washing of the digestive system.

The Hadith about dividing the stomach into three parts namely one for solid or food one for liquid or drinks and one for air. This hypothesis could never be introduced by a scientist at the time the Quran was revealed. There was no scientific research in the field of nutrition or at least physiology. It should be assumed that all the container when filled with liquids count not be agitated, and to allow the stomach movement for digestion, a portion should be let for food mixing with the enzymes in the stomach for a best performance in the molecules breakdown.

The agitating operations in food engineering are defined by the number of Reynolds which is a coefficient that indicates the efficiency of the operation. The apparent density may depends on the ratio mass/volume. The mass is constant so when the volume increases the ratio becomes higher and the agitation is higher. So when you let one third in the stomach, the total volume when agitating will be augmented by one third and the density of food inside will decreases so the mixture will be light and the movement is accelerated so no gas or bad fermentation in the stomach can occur and the body will be healthy.

Having only two meals is among the strong principles of modern dietarotherapy which is a new science to help healing some metabolic diseases, this theory is called Spacing the meals.

Anything by chance but by a god’s order wahii God revelation and wahii is not science it is ore than that since it is from God the creator of the world.

Obviously when you pray your God and when you seek his forgiveness and rewarding he sure gives you a good health and among his gifts a very balanced health. The Almighty Allah had created us and had supplied us with everything in the life. All the sustenance is given to man everything in the universe is created for man.

Although such good teachings of Islam are not confined to the month of Ramadan alone, yet they are best observed in this month. Hence, one can notice a great fall in the crime rate, violence, loss of working days due to offensive injuries and a great reduction in the cost of medico-legal expenditure which has a pronounced effect on the health budget of a given community.

There is no doubt in saying that the number of offensive injuries and trauma cases reported to the emergency rooms in a Muslim country is far less in the month of Ramadan than in any other month. Ramadan, in other words, is a training period for the Muslims in which the foundations of a subtle character are laid whose gains can also be seen round the year and this has a positive effect on the morale of the whole society.

Pr Mohamed Faid

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