The basic objectives of this month long process are to mould the behavior and pattern of life of its practitioners in such a way that they turn out to be ideal human beings. In order to achieve this one has to restrain oneself from listening, speaking, hearing or thinking bad about others.
The impact of this purification process is expected to last the remaining months, after which the process is repeated. As a result Psychological and social effects of Ramazan fasting are well observed by the description of people who fast.
Psychological effects of Ramazan fasting
Muslims believe that fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. Fasting also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, abstaining from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing, fighting, and having lustful thoughts. Therefore, fasting strengthens control of impulses and helps develop good behavior.
This purification of body and soul harmonizes the inner and outer spheres of an individual. Muslims aim to improve their body by reducing food intake and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Overindulgence in food is discouraged and eating only enough to silence the pain of hunger is encouraged. Muslims believe they should be active, tending to all their commitments and never falling short of any duty.
Fasting is believed to help promote chastity and humility and prevent sin, the outburst of uncontrolled lusts and desires and farfetched hopes. Fasting also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, abstaining from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing, fighting, and having lustful thoughts. Therefore, fasting strengthens control of impulses and helps to develop good behavior. During the sacred month of Ramazan, believers strive to purify body and soul and increase their good deeds.
This purification of body and soul harmonizes the inner and outer spheres of an individual. On a moral level, believers strive to attain the most virtuous characteristics and apply them to their daily situations. They try to show compassion, generosity and mercy to others, exercise patience, and control their anger. In essence, Muslims are trying to improve what they believe to be good moral character and habits.
Muslims do prayer as namaz/salat five times a day and 20 extra namaz of “Tarahveeh” in the night. There is a beneficial effect of extra prayer. This not only helps with better utilization of food but also helps in energy output and it is also beneficial for extra calorie utilization. Muslims encouraged being doing more acts of piety, prayers, charity or reading Qur’an. Recitation of the Qur’an not only produces a tranquility of heart and mind, but improves the memory.
Muslims describe a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. This involves restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing one to serve as a good Muslim and a good person. It serves as a means to sharpen our awareness of God and gives strengthens and self control. Besides abstaining from food and drinks, fasting involves getting into sublime states of mind in order to develop positive feelings. In an investigation in Jordan, a significant reduction of Para-suicidal cases was noted during the month of Ramazan.
Social effects of Ramazan fasting
Ramazan fasting encompasses direction to develop spiritual, moral and social values. It is the message of equality amongst the individuals of the society. The poor are given attention and benefit from charity and the faithful practice of the concept of neighborhood and hospitality.
Apart from helping to achieve purity of body and soul through this process of self-purification, addressing these areas of social significance is bound to help people shed all those things which are not socially desirable. The practice of the concept of neighborhood is equally important. The neighborhood concept ultimately extends to the world and beyond.
Muslims cannot consume alcohol and use smoke in any form during the month of Ramazan. Those people who are addicted to such habits, it is the best time for them to quit these habits, which are spoiling their health and wasting their money. Since they are restraining themselves from these habits for one month, they should continue to do so, for the rest of their life.
In the United Kingdom, the Ramazan model has been used by various health departments and organizations to reduce cigarette smoking among the masses, especially among Africans and Asians. Fasting has been made obligatory in order to establish equality between the rich and the poor; the rich experience the pangs of hunger and thus fulfill their obligations with respect to the poor.
One of the greatest advantages of fasting in this month is that its true observance inculcates in a person a habit of speaking the truth. Ramazan fasting is actually an exercise in self-discipline. For those who are chain smokers, or nibble food constantly, or drink coffee every hour, it is a good way to break the habit, hoping that the effect will continue after the month is over.
Fasting is prescribed by many religions of the world. Islam specifically outlines one full month of fasting during the month of Ramazan. It is a physiological, psychological as well as a spiritual experience. It is generally accepted that a reward for the self-discipline of fasting is better health.
Source: Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education