Ramadan: A golden opportunity to change

Posted: August 1, 2013 in Uncategorised

Ramadan: A golden opportunity to change
Tue, 30 Jul 2013 09:50:41 AST
Dr. Walid A. Fitaihi

One of the truths of Ramadan that many are unaware of is that the increase in faith, the rejuvenation of spirituality in our lives which occur during the holy month should remain and linger on to last for days, weeks, and months after the Ramadan season as well. Fasting during this blessed month was ordained by Allah as a form of training and personal growth so that the Muslim comes out of Ramadan better than he/she was prior to Ramadan. If a real, positive change in the Muslim’s character did not take place, then the purpose of Ramadan was not accomplished. Change will be possible only when Ramadan enters our heart to liberate it, to make it more fearful, pious, patient, and gentle. This spiritual awakening enables Muslims to refrain from all prohibitions and fuels them to work harder and persist in all acts of worship and goodness.

This is the month of a golden opportunity to do good and to gain rewards because during Ramadan the doors of Hellfire are closed and the doors of Paradise are opened. Each good deed is multiplied by 70 and more. The wisdom behind these blessings, in my opinion, is to draw us closer to Allah, to give us a taste of the sweetness of obedience to our Creator, and to feel the inner beauty that swells in the heart as a result of strong, unwavering faith. Once we experience this taste and feeling, we will devote ourselves to practice our religion in a better way during Ramadan and after. The leap in faith and devotion empowers one to overcome bad habits and bad traits, even if they have become a fixed part of his/her personality. Fasting teaches Muslims lessons in self-control that are not only limited to avoiding food and drink but that also spill into their conduct.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you are fasting and somebody tries to insult you or offend you, you should say I’m fasting.” Our religion stresses the importance of avoiding showing fits of anger, talking back rudely, or losing our temper; even more so in Ramadan. Only recently have scholars discovered the negative effects that going through bouts of anger have on the health of a fasting person. When one is brimming with anger, a ten-fold release of the hormone adrenaline is triggered, which has two profound impacts on the body during a fast. First of all, the adrenaline in the bloodstream increases the breaking down of glycogen stored up in the liver. This stored amount of glycogen is very important to be slowly and gradually converted into glucose throughout the day to provide sustainable energy for the body during a long fast. Using up the glycogen reserves in the liver due to an argument or a battle of words is a waste of energy and will leave the fasting person tired and exhausted by mid-day.
Second, adrenaline increases urine output so a fasting person loses lots of body fluids if he/she is quick to anger. The loss of body fluids will cause the fasting person to become tired, thirsty, and to feel physically drained toward the end of the day. In order to save up on much needed energy during a fast and conserve fluids in the body, the fasting Muslim should take daily disturbances lightly and with ease, and not let his/her anger get out of hand.

Allah has placed physiological reasons why the fasting Muslim should avoid getting angry or else he/she will inadvertently pay the price. And the price paid in this case is experiencing more physical hardships while fasting, such as thirst, hunger, and fatigue. In Ramadan, the Muslim will gradually learn to become less irritable and short-tempered and more patient and tolerant. The only legitimate reason to anger is if any violation toward Islam or the Prophet Muhammad (pnuh) or his companions was witnessed. Other irritations in daily life are trivial and stressing over them will reduce from the fasting person’s rewards and is a waste of time, energy, and mental power. Abu Huraira reported that a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “Advise me.” The Prophet said, “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request twice, and the Prophet said, “Do not get angry.”

For those of us who are normally short-tempered and quick to become infuriated and participate in back-biting and cursing, and in Ramadan we failed to remedy such undesirable trait, we should ask ourselves some important questions. Why was I not changed by Ramadan? Did I miss out on the benefits and blessings of Ramadan? Let us make this Ramadan a life-changing month and try our best to avoid making the mistake described by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the following hadeeth: “Many receive nothing from the fast except hunger and thirst.”

– Dr. Walid Fitaihi is the founder, chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the International Medical Center. He is committed to community service and voluntary activities. His mission in life is to enhance the quality of healthcare.

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