The first week of fasting for Ramadan, the holy month for all practicing Muslims, has just finished. Ramadan 2019 is now well underway.
But what exactly does Ramadan entail
Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Once a year, on the 9th month of the hegira, all practicing Muslims will undertake the ritual of spiritual and bodily purification. This is thirty days of fasting.
From sunrise to sunset they will fast. This means that no food or liquid is to be consumed, no smoking or sexual act during the hours of daylight. No unkind thought or act shall be committed during this time. The month is to be devoted to pure thoughts and deeds, purification, prayers and reflection It is a personal commitment for 30 days.
Fasting during Ramadan:
The aspect of Ramadan that most people think of as most difficult is the no food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Especially as for a number of years now Ramadan has fallen during the summer months. Sunlight hours are longest and the idea of not even having a glass of water is challenging.
But the number of benefits linked to fasting have been known for a long time. In recent years both practicing and non believers alike are aware of the health benefits that exist by not eating or drinking for a long number of hours.
Less time taken in processing the increasingly rich food that we eat, allows the body to rest and to concentrate on other things. Intermittent fasting like Ramadan has been shown to eliminate toxins, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the metabolism and reduce body fat. It also improves digestion, and slows down the ageing process.
Of course it is not a good idea if the person has a particular medical condition and is taking medicine. But this is accounted for. People who are ill or who are pregnant are not expected to fast.
Mindfulness during Ramadan:
The moment of breaking the fast, of stopping at the end of the day, of taking time to prepare a balanced meal and to share the experience together is a hugely positive one. At Eden, our restaurant at Palais Amani, guests and staff together share the meal at sundown. The balanced Ftour menu is enjoyed to celebrate the day gone by.
A number of medicals studies have shown that in our world of frenetic movement, an end of the day routine, a shared meal and down time is hugely beneficial to our sleep patterns and social interaction. These are once again essential elements for a healthy and long life.
The simple commitment to being aware of each day passing is an excellent practice for mental wellbeing. The sense of achievement as the day comes to a close and you managed to respect the fact is also excellent practice.
Pure thoughts and deeds during Ramadan:
You must have no bad thoughts or actions towards yourself or towards others, from sunrise to sunset. This is perhaps the most challenging of all. Of course after the sun goes down, this doesn’t mean that we can be evil and disrespectful. Meditative thoughts and prayers are encouraged before a restorative sleep in preparation for the next day ahead. Being aware of our actions and thoughts for 30 days. Actively attempting to be positive and just in what we think and do. What a wonderful exercise in tolerance and love for humanity! This is a commitment that our world is most in need of. Perhaps we should all be doing Ramadan. Just imagine what a difference it would make in our tortured world.
Ramadan Kareem to one and all!
JMB 17thMay, 2019