The cultural and health significance of Ramadan | Life + Entertainment
Ramadan is the time of year when people of the faith of Islam refrain from eating, drinking, bad habits, toxic patterns and inappropriate things considered unsacred to the Islamic religion, biology senior Jana Daoud said.
With the lunar month of Ramadan beginning soon, Muslims around the world are preparing to cleanse their bodies and souls through fasting from dawn till dusk for 30 days.
Masood Ahmed, Islamic scholar and the Imam of Central Masjid at Arlington, said under the holy book Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s teachings, Islam is built on five pillars.
The first one is Shahada, the declaration of faith by proclaiming “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger,” Ahmed said.
The second pillar is Salah, the obligatory prayers Muslims perform. The third is Zakat, the purification which is the charity Muslims are obliged to give. The fourth is Sawm, a fasting Muslims observe during the lunar month. Finally, the fifth is Hajj, to perform pilgrimage to the holy land of Mecca.
Zakat requires every Muslim to give 2.5% of their wealth to charity if they’re able, Ahmed said.
Similarly, everyone above the age of puberty and is capable of fasting should be fasting, he said. If they’re not able to fast, they’re required to give Fidya or charity to those less fortunate than themselves in the form of money or food, separate from Zakat.
Daoud said menstruating, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who are ill and the elderly are a few people who are exempt from fasting.
However, they are obliged to make up these fasts after Ramadan if and when they can, she said.
Ahmed said fasting has shown health benefits for both physical and mental health.
Ramadan fasting can help with balancing metabolism, losing weight, increasing willpower and gaining an overall healthy lifestyle, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information studies.
To biomedical engineering sophomore Rowa Hamdan, Ramadan is not just a time where you refrain from eating, drinking and bad habits.
It’s more than that, Hamdan said. It is a time when Muslims become more spiritual and closer to their family, friends and community as it promotes spending more time with them through praying and eating together.
“You get used to your good habits,” she said. “So that even after Ramadan, you keep those good habits.”
For Daoud, Ramadan is a time to reconnect with her faith. With work and school occupying her time, during Ramadan, she is able to set some time aside to focus on her health, for her additional prayers and to do charitable work.
“[I] feel holy as I’m fasting throughout the day: no cussing, no backbiting, none of that stuff. And it helps me kind of even after Ramadan stick to those good habits,” Daoud said.