By: Peter Minkoff
Ramadan is the month in which Allah Almighty opens His doors of mercy, forgiveness and blessings upon Muslims. This month is anxiously awaited by all the Muslims as they perform the duty of fasting in this month. There is a good reason behind such joyful anticipation; Ramadan is a time of reflection, soul-searching and strengthening your faith and your connection with Allah. We refrain from food, drink, impure contact and impure thoughts, in order to cleanse or body as well as our sole; this is the time for every Muslim to reflect on their behavior and make an honest attempt to improve in every aspect. Allah has made fasting Ramadan and spending its nights in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward a means of forgiveness of sins. In this month, Allah opens the gates of Paradise and closes the gates of Hell, and chains up the devils. The ‘sacrifice’ of renouncing food and impure thoughts is insignificant in comparison to the rewards we will receive for fasting and praying. Yet aside from the spiritual benefits, there are numerous other reasons for which fasting is beneficial for you as an individual.
Controls cholesterol levels
Aside from spiritual and psychological benefits, fasting brings about a number of health benefit as well. One of them is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood, which comes as a result of the positive effects of fasting on the lipid profile. This in turn, leads to great improvements in your overall cardiovascular health, which greatly reduces the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. As you have the opportunity to eat healthier for an entire month, this is a great opportunity to change your dietary habits for good, and if you continue to follow a healthy diet after Ramadan ends, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be much easier to maintain.
Eliminates bad habits
Habits are a difficult thing to change, especially if they have been a part of your life for a very long time. Smoking, for instance, is a bad habit, and more than that, it is an addiction. Exercising self-control during Ramadan will demonstrate to you that your habits have less control over you than you might have thought. If you can refrain from food, negative and inappropriate thoughts, this will give you the strength and self-confidence to kick all your bad habits. So, use this Holy month to try your best and beat your addictions, just in time for the biggest and most important Muslim holidays. With your bad habits gone, you will enjoy and know how to celebrate Eid al-Fitr right. While you abstain from vices—such as smoking and indulging in sugary foods—your body will gradually acclimatize to their absence, until your addiction is banished for good, and you will feel like a new and improved person, which is one of the goals of Ramadan.
Boosts your immune system
When an individual incorporates a diet rich in fiber and protein during suhur and iftar, and refrains from processed and sugary foods, the result is a great boost of immunity. Elimination of toxins and reduction in fat store also helps the body. When individuals take fruits to break a fast, they increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E are good antioxidants readily available in fruits. This is why Ramadan is a time where the emphasis on moderation is greater than during any other time of the year, and it is precisely this moderation that can bring balance and strengthen your body’s stamina and resilience.
Fosters weight loss and detoxification
If you maintain a healthy and balanced diet, despite some of the misconceptions, fasting will not result in weight gain. In fact, fasting promotes rapid weight loss. It reduces the store of fats in the body. In combination with regular exercise, even the low-impact one, such as a brisk walk before iftar, will speed your metabolism and promote weight loss.
Peace and tranquility
As this is a time for introspection, Ramadan is a time for achieving spiritual balance and inner peace. Personal hostility is at a minimum, and the crime rates have been known to significantly decrease. Muslims take advice from the Prophet who said, “If one slanders you or aggresses against you, say I am fasting.” Muslims practice generosity by being charitable, family-bonding by gathering around the iftar table, spirituality by praying, and self-control by practicing good manners. All these habits build a feeling of peace, tranquility and self-satisfaction. In addition to fasting, reciting recitation of the Quran also serves to produce tranquility of heart and mind, promotes forgiveness and tolerance, and also improves the memory.
Helps self-control and tolerance
While we fast, we exercise and strengthen our levels of self-control, and this trait does not only apply to food and drinks. This self-control extends to avoiding confrontation, promotes peace and tolerance. It is a time when we tend to be more forgiving, keeping in mind that there are sins that we wish to be forgiven for. We refrain from judgment and try to make peace with those with whom we are in a fight. Ramadan is a time for both giving and receiving forgiveness, leaving the bad behind and welcoming and hoping for good.
Lifts your spirits
During Ramadan, families sit down together to break their fast each night, and this continuous communal aspect has been proven to impact mental health in a positive way. Engaging in fasting can bring families and social groups closer together. This often helps people suffering from depression and loneliness by reassuring them that they are not alone.