Celebrating Ramadan in a different light

As Ramadan takes place, most Muslims, such as myself, around the world take part in a daily fast. Who is exempt from fasting? Pregnant/breastfeeding women, anyone with a medical condition, the elderly, and women on their menstrual cycle.

Ramadan is a time where Muslims are obligated to fast during this holy month from sunrise to sunset. We also strengthen our relationship with God by reading the Quran (our holy book) and praying five times a day.

“I have never fasted but I find it very interesting how determined Muslims are and the amount of self-control they have during the month. I admire my friends that are able to observe Ramadan and I think it has a great meaning behind it,” sophomore Ruftana Beyene said. 

“It takes a lot of courage and determination to get through the entire month without eating or drinking water during the day and that’s why I look up to my friends who are able to fast throughout the entire thing.” 

The idea of fasting is generally an act of worship to our creator. Not only do we put ourselves in the place of the less fortunate when fasting, but we also fulfill one of our five pillars as Muslims. 

Since we are unable to eat all day, many Muslims wake up before sunrise to eat a meal that will sustain them for the day, which is called suhoor. At sunset, Muslims traditionally break their fast with a date because it is a sacred food in Islam. 

“I fast every Ramadan and as I’ve gotten older it has gotten much easier, but I do have some days where it’s hard to get through the entire thing but the overall result is very important to me,” freshman Susana Aburish said. “I love being able to spend time with my family throughout this month and getting closer to my faith.”

A common assumption made by people is that fasting is bad for your health, but studies have proved this wrong. For starters, it protects you from inflammation, which could potentially cause heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. 

Another health benefit of fasting is stabilizing or improving cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Adjusting your diet is the number one way to avoid heart disease, which is the leading cause of death at a whopping 31% global death rate. 

A study was done where 110 obese adults fasted for three weeks, and the results were a significant decrease in their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

“This year, fasting has been a lot easier for me and I’m able to do my daily tasks such as going to the gym and completing the school day without any hardship,” said Junior Hana Wasuge. 

“Sometimes it does get a little hard without water and can cause minor headaches but overall it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.” 

As for mental health, fasting can also prevent neuro disorders. A study on mice was performed to see the effect it had on their overall mental and physical health. The results showed that it improved their brain function and balanced it with their physical health. 

Some scientists have even said that fasting has future benefits such as eliminating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

An aspect not commonly discussed regarding fasting is those doing it with mental illnesses. There is no doubt that whatever you do has an effect on your mental health, especially those battling depression and anxiety. However, fasting has shown very promising and positive effects on mental health. 

Throughout Ramadan, there is a heavy emphasis on charity and abstaining from bad habits such as cursing and showing anger towards others. Charity does not necessarily equate to donating money, as an act of charity can also include cooking for those in need and helping someone through hardship. 

As a result of performing these charitable acts, humans receive something called endorphins, which is a “feel-good” brain chemical that enters the brain when completing a charitable act. This also helps fight loneliness and isolation since you are actively helping those around you. 

Overall, Ramadan is a chance for Muslims to reset themselves and those around them spiritually, physically, and mentally.