Controversies in Fasting During Ramadan
As Ramadan begins, some controversies are bubbling up regarding the safety of extended fasting. Try some of these tips to remain healthy during your fast.
This evening Muslims will start celebrating the Holy Month of Ramadan. People unfamiliar with Islam commonly know it as the time when Muslims fast. But aside from the fasting, Ramadan has deeper sets of meanings and more virtuous goals.
Brief background on Ramadan
For Muslims, Ramadan is the 9th month of the lunar calendar and is a whole month of abstaining from food, beverages, smoking, sexual intercourse, sports, recreation, and all other activities that please the body. The main goal of the observance is to let Muslims reflect, assess their faith and relationship with God, and achieve spiritual purification by removing the physical temptations offered by the world. It is also the time to strengthen relationships with others, learn the value of charity, and try to improve their understanding of the Qur’an.
Such restrictions only apply from sunrise to sunset and Muslims can eventually eat and drink during the night until dawn. Fasting is mandated by the Qur’an for all Muslims, but there are some exceptions. Those who are sick, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, those with risky health conditions, and all other individuals with compelling reasons are exempt from fasting. Young children under the age of puberty are also exempted. At the end of the fast, Ramadan is culminates in the Eid ul-Fitr celebration.
Does Longer Daylight mean Longer Fasting During Ramadan?
Several Muslim groups and scholars are pushing that the amount of time to fast in northern countries be adjusted according to Mecca time. Islam is strict on fasting and according to its rules, the sun should totally set before everyone can eat and drink. This is a major concern for Muslims who are living in countries located in the northern hemisphere particularly in the UK and the rest of Europe.
Ramadan often falls during the summer months in Europe, and daylight lasts longer in the summer. If the Middle East experiences 12 to 13 hours of daylight, it’s 16 hours and above in Europe. It gets worst in the Nordic countries where the sun can stay shining for 19 or even up to 24 hours. Fasting for extended hours in these countries can be a serious risk to an individual’s health.
Changes to when the fasting takes place are not officially observed yet. And according to some Islamic leaders, Muslims in these countries should try to obey the rules, but if their bodies can no longer manage, some scholars are claiming it would be alright to break the fast.
British Primary School Bans Fasting for Children
The Barclay Primary School of East London received criticism from Muslim organizations for issuing letters to parents citing that fasting among its students will be banned this upcoming Ramadan celebration. According to the school administration, the decision is intended to prevent young children from risking their health and learning capabilities. The school also added that young children are actually exempted by the Islamic Law from fasting. Groups like the Muslim Association of Britain said that parents should be the ones to determine whether their children are fit to fast or not. In the end, the school defended its actions and a student may be allowed to fast after arrangements with the school head.
Tips for a Healthy and Safe Fasting Experience this Ramadan
If this is your first time to fast or you find yourself having difficulties when fasting, Al Arabiya provided some health tips that can help you get through the Ramadan fast. Below are some of the most helpful pointers for keeping safe and healthy:
- Ensure to undergo for a routine checkup to see if you are fit and have no health issues that could make it difficult for you to fast.
- Start eliminating those bad habits or routines like smoking, drinking, even drinking too much coffee.
- Stock up or prepare early for your “break the fast” foods.
- And when you are finally done with the day’s fasting, remember to eat and ingest food slowly.