Across the globe, nearly one billion people are engaged in an activity designed to bring greater spiritual development and to build character. The global activity is the celebration of the month of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and prayer that started August 21 in some places and August 22 in the United States.
Ramadan requires fasting from sun up to sunset, abstaining from intimate relations between married couples during the day, daily reading of the Holy Qur’an, the Muslim book of scripture, and having a special appreciation for the blessings of Almighty God Allah and deeper compassion for those who are less fortunate. Injunctions to fast, abstain from food, are also found in Christian, Jewish and some indigenous faith traditions.
In a world and a nation prone to excesses of all kinds, Ramadan allows an opportunity for relief, a chance to consider life’s higher values and a time to exercise discipline so often lacking in daily American life–where license is passed off for freedom.
License, or excesses, can be seen particularly in the way Americans eat. Overeating contributes to and leads to major preventable health problems, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
In addition to spiritual benefits, some scientists have started to tout the benefits of eating less. Some research shows eating less, or “limiting caloric intake,” can lead to longer lives. Interestingly, much of the research focuses on ways to create a pill to keep people from eating. But the Almighty God, the Best Knower, has already provided the prescription–which is fasting. Let’s try God’s way and get spiritual and physical benefits for ourselves.