It is that time of the year again, when Muslims the world over, observe a critical aspect of their religious obligations; a process hinged on abstinence and cultivating the love of and courting the trust of Allah [their Lord and Creator].
Of the many rallying points that Islam exudes in line with its brotherhood mantra, the RAMADAN season is a time when adherents of the faith the world over act in unison and within stipulated boundaries as ordained by Allah.
And indeed, beyond just the Muslims, non Muslims alike are not left out of the ‘buzz’ which grips the entire communities where a number of Muslims are situated.
The overriding influence that Ramadan as a period unleashes is so panoramic that several social dynamics are positively affected. Save that other areas also reel under a certain amount of loss in the general scheme of events.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims more than anything are supposed to hold themselves [abstain] from that which Allah has barred them. By so doing, the Muslim is tasked to train his person against disobedience of his Creator.
When this is expected of anyone, it means that between dawn and dusk, Muslims are supposed to be tolerable of others in every sense: never to insult or abuse and to resort to telling the blighter ‘I am fasting.’
Whiles it does not add anything to the fasting persons’ endeavor as ingrained in the concept of Ramadan; political parties and their leaders are quick to issue statements wishing Muslims well during the period.
This in my view brings two core issues to the fore; that Muslims are duly recognized as key players within the political structure of the country. Beyond that it engenders the much talked about interfaith harmony, the bedrock on which Ghana has had a strong inter religious coexistence over the years.
In our part of the world, economics of any situation is seen as the heartbeat of survival and there again, Ramadan comes in with varying effects on the economic outlook of the period.
While traders whose wares or services are predominantly patronized by Muslims see it as a period of economic downturn so to say, traders in bulk commodities see it differently.
Indeed, other market watchers have said when daily fast closes; there is a marked upward adjustment in sales especially of consumables. Ostensibly because it is a time that Muslims love more than ever to share.
The medical good that Ramadan comes with, Muslims believe rests within the infinite knowledge of Allah, for which reason he ordained it on them to fast.
Having said that, medical research into the benefits of Ramadan is very well documented. During Ramadan, a person basically misses lunch and takes an early breakfast and does not eat again until dusk.
According to medics, abstinence from water for 8 to 10 hours is not necessarily bad for health and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration.
Dr. Shahir Athad of Echo of Islam blogspot stated amongst others that: “the body has its own water conservation mechanism; in fact, it has been shown that slight dehydration and water conservation, at least in plant life, improve their longevity.
The physiological effect of fasting includes lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure.
In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for the treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension.
In 1994 the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan”, held in Casablanca, entered 50 extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting. While improvement in many medical conditions was noted; however, in no way did fasting worsen any patients’ health or their baseline medical condition.
On the other hand, patients who are suffering from severe diseases, whether type I diabetes or coronary artery disease, kidney stones, etc., are exempt from fasting and should not be allowed to fast,” he concluded.
WHAT IS RAMADAN?
Ramadan is simply a period during which Muslims are supposed to abstain from food, drink, sex and other acts, between dawn (after taking a pre-dawn meal/Sahuur) till sunset, when they break their fasts, (with the Iftaar meal).
The Ramadan enthusiasm and fervor is that single act that galvanizes the global Muslims audience, within a particular period of time as above stated to seek the face of their Master, Lord and Creator.
The true essence being that practitioners of that act of worship can gain piety from their Lord and more importantly use that period and opportunity as a spring board to garner a quantum leap of good, blessing, mercy and grace of the Almighty.
The buzz of the period is almost palpable, with Muslims and non Muslims alike sharing in the joy that comes with the period.
There is always too much to banquet on during the fast breaking feast as the young and old sit around mats in mosques to partake in the Iftaar, fruits as the Islamically prudish dates fruit – known in local parlance as dabino – are present as are fruits as banana, sliced water melons, pawpaw, mangoes etc. apples make a rare entry sometimes.
Local delicacies particularly kooko (millet porridge) and koose (accompanying grounded beans ‘pizza’-like meal) are gratuitously sent to mosques, at some mosques foods as rice are prepared and served to the famished fasting person.
As for quenching the trademark thirst that dries the throat and leaves Muslims longing to break their fasts, aside water, locally brewed drinks; Sooboloobo, laamujee and mashed kenkey (referred to as ice kenkey) are among the thirst quenching squad.
Then does the city burst out with life, the ambience is hale and hearty, excitement in the air grips Muslims and non-Muslims alike who partake in food available for the fast breaking feast.
The reason for which Ramadan stands tall above all other months stems from a divine admonition by the Sovereign Lord _Allah Almighty, who in HIS infinite knowledge stated without equivocation in Quran Chapter 2 verse 183 (verse whose meaning could be as follows.)
“O you believers! We (Allah) have made fasting compulsory upon you, as it was made compulsory on your forebears, that ye may attain piety.”
May the Almighty accept, reward and bless our efforts at pleasing HIM, may He grant us the Jannah (Paradise) for which we strive to earn his pleasure and to grant us good in this world and in the hereafter. Allah Guide us All.
Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa, [email protected]
The writer is the general secretary of Mission for Development Foundation (formerly Development Youth Foundation) a group that aims at making society better through workable social interventions and scientific research.