Ramadan fasting


Ramadan Mubarak!

The Muslim world is now in the heart of its holy month of Ramadan. A ritual of many dimensions and traditions but most people know it for the extended duration of strict fasting. Not just food, but no drink.

Such a period of failing to eat and drink for a prolonged time might seem to be brutally masochistic (note: a number of exceptions are granted to children, elderly, ill and other individuals for whom such fasting could be dangerous). But actually closer examination indicates that this period of weakness might just make one stronger. Not just in the spiritual sense, but in physical health as well. The article “Science of Fasting: How Does Ramadan Affect the Body?” describes…

  • “The practice of fasting isn’t unique to Islam. For Hindus and Jains, single-day fasts mark auspicious occasions. Over the forty days of Lent, Christians undertake a partial fast. On the night before Yom Kippur each year, Jews begin a 25-hour period of fasting and prayer. Mormons are encouraged to fast for a day each month… A 2008 study conducted in Utah found that people who fast on a regular basis lower their risk of contracting coronary disease. In 2014, a follow up study found that fasting instigates metabolic changes and lowers “bad” cholesterol levels, which in turn can reduce the chance of heart disease by as much as 58%.”

Article talks about other benefits…

  • ·Shared adversity bringing the community together especially in the breaking of fasts
  • ·Cleansing and de-toxing
  • Pause and reset
  • Break food habits

Another fan of fasting is Nassim Taleb who advocates it in his [bible] of embracing failure, “Anti-Fragile”…

  • Among other things, the role of religion is to tam the iatrogenics of abundance – fasting makes you lose your sense of entitlement…There is the this antifragiity to the stressor of the fast, as it makes the wanted food taste better and can produce euphoria in one’s system. Breaking a fast feels like the exact opposite of a hangover.”

Maybe that is why many “de-tox” regimes are mainly mini-fasts to counteract the hangovers of excess.