This Muslim had attended university classes all day since morning and was now cooking their meal, and had done all of that, without food or drink. I was impressed and I’m still impressed at how much Islam instills in people goodness and strengthens and shapes them into being strong, clean, honest people.
The prayer I recognized at once as the way Jesus, peace be upon him, prayed, as depicted in the Garden of Gethsemane, barefoot, after ablutions, kneeling and prostrating, ‘he fell on his face in prayer’, (many verses in Bible describe it this way and not only for Jesus, but other followers.)
Someone who is not drinking fluids to keep the body temperature regulated has to be careful when exposing themselves to nature’s harsh elements.
Fasting also teaches us about energy and economy. How much energy can expend or conserve becomes daily issues we have to think about. Certain activities such as outdoor elements can affect us negatively or positively when we are fasting. Namely: the heat and sun should be considered energy zappers. Someone who is not drinking fluids to keep the body temperature regulated has to be careful when exposing themselves to nature’s harsh elements. If one is skilled in fasting, (they hydrate themselves well during the breakfast times) hard physical labor can be performed while fasting. I’ve seen construction workers during Ramadan continue working from morning to mid-day. In cold and dry, climates, energy is expended to keep warm, as food is our source of warmth. In hot climates, where I live, not eating or eating lightly is a pleasure, because when you’re not feeding the body, you don’t feel the heat. In fact, indoors, we can feel cold while fasting even if the outside temperatures exceed 90F. The moment we eat our bodies warm up and on go the air conditioners.
Would anyone think fasting teaches us about human emotions? One of the first things a fasting person must realize, is anger comes at a huge price and sacrifice. It is a threat to the body and brain. It sends high levels of cortisol and other harmful hormones surging through the body. This weakens a person and zaps their energy. If we are attacked or harassed while fasting, we are advised by the Quran and Hadeeth to ward off such confrontation while fasting by saying: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.’ This might shift the aggressor’s frame of mind giving them a chance to weigh the situation. Do they really want to abuse someone who is fasting; practicing a religious duty?
Modern science is showing us the ill effects of anger and its stress hormones on our hearts and brains.
This negative human emotion, is one Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, warned us about. “Be slow to anger,” he said. From this we understand, anger is a response. It is something we can control. We can feed or quench anger or never even let something bother us to such a degree that we lash out in revenge. One of our Creator’s names is the Avenger. Allah performs intervention on behalf of those who call on Him.
If you notice, people who become easily angered, or who are angry and moody all the time, are in a habit. They’ve learned this means of dealing with life’s struggles. Aren’t they exhausted by this negative emotion? When we fast, we don’t have that kind of energy to waste. A single outburst of anger can quickly debilitate you. What does ‘anger’ accomplish? For the fasting person, anger will leave them feeling weak, shaky, not well. A friend told me their father and mother were arguing during Ramadan right before Iftar. The father went to his room and didn’t come out to break his fast. Someone in the family went to check on him and found him dead from a massive heart attack. Lying by his side was a Quran, subhanAllah.
One of the best remedies for anxiety is fasting. With the current pandemic scare, I felt strongly that this Ramadan was going to be an extra blessing for the Muslim world. Fasting makes you relaxed. With less sugar in your system, and with your focus on performing as many good deeds as you can, nothing but peace can possibly be the outcome.
End of part II. Part III will follow.