Ramadan is an obligatory (forced) month-long period of fasting for those who are of the Islamic faith. Muslims believe that Mohammad was given the call to be the prophet of Allah and some revelations of the Quran during Ramadan, which is why there is an observance of this time. During the Ramadan month, from sunrise to sunset, all Muslims are to abstain from food, eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse (as well as other things). However, those with medical conditions and the young are given exemptions. In addition, during this month all Muslims are supposed to focus on the Quran and meditate upon it. It is said that Muslims hope that Allah will speak to them during this time. During the month of Ramadan, after sundown, Muslims may eat, drink, have sexual intercourse, and behave as normal until sun-up when the fast continues. Supposedly, Muhammad did this during his life, as well as all Muslims who follow his example.
“The sick, prepubescent youths, and women who are menstruating or pregnant are exempt from the fast. This apparently does not include lactating mothers.
In hotter countries, Ramadan can be a particularly difficult undertaking, but it is to be observed by all faithful Muslims.
From the Quran:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous – 184 [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. 185 The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful,” (Quran, 2:183).
Health risks of Ramadan:
‘Binge eating is a fairly common habit during the Ramadan period, especially as the day is spent without eating or drinking,’ says Anjali Dange, Dietitian at Welcare Hospital.
“During the initial days of fasting, you may encounter slight dizziness as well as frequent headaches.”
Dr. Phadke says that fasting can also increase levels of gastric acidity in the stomach which can cause burning and heaviness, and sometimes a sour taste in the mouth.
In a recent study done on the Arab world, diseases linked to cholesterol and diabetes increased by 27.65% because of overeating.
Pregnant Women and their Babies
A new study by scientists in the United States has revealed that pregnant Muslim women who fast during Ramadan are likely to have smaller babies who will be more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood.
The study, which used census data from the US, Iraq, and Uganda, also discovered long-term effects on the adult’s health and his or her future economic success.
“We generally find the largest effects on adults when Ramadan falls early in pregnancy,” the Independent quoted Douglas Almond, of Columbia University, and Bhashkar Mazumder, of the Federal Research Bank of Chicago, the authors of the research, as saying.
“Rates of adult disability are roughly 20 percent higher, with specific mental disabilities showing substantially larger effects. Importantly, we detect no corresponding outcome differences when the same design is applied to non-Muslims,” they added.
In a certain study, the nutritional status of lactating women was affected by Ramadan fasting. All of the nutrient intakes (except vitamins A, E, and C) decreased during Ramadan. The study said that it would seem prudent to excuse lactating women from fasting during Ramadan.
There are many other effects (migraines, sleeping problems, etc), but these are just a few we decided to point out.
As Christians, we should see Ramadan as the time to pray for our Muslim friends. Sometimes we are told that because Christians don’t have a set month to fast, that we aren’t following Jesus. One reason we don’t set a month is that Jesus never forces anyone to do something they don’t want to do. He doesn’t force us to fast and even when Christ fasted, it was much different than Ramadan fasting.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. Matthew 4:2 KJV
As Christians, we may fast for certain reasons, reasons like what even Jesus told his disciples.
‘And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. ‘ Mark 9:28-29 KJV
Sometimes we may only fast a day, a week, or even a month, but our focus should be on what God can do through us. Be like Christ. Reach out to Muslims and show them the love of Jesus (don’t harass them). So I ask you today, please pray for Muslims everywhere. And if God lays it on your heart to fast for them, then fast for them. Let God use you to reach them.