Fasting is a Scientific Miracle

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SHAFAQNA - Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183] In this Noble Quranic verse, Allaah The Almighty tells us that He has ordained fasting and made it an established norm common to all generations of human beings. History books report that the Persians, Romans, Indians, Greeks, Babylonians and ancient Egyptians would fast and consider that a good deed. Jews and Christians also used to fast – and still do – even though it is done in different forms that they have innovated, thereby deviating from its true meaning.

All living beings except man were made by Allaah The Almighty to live according to a balanced law to obtain their needs of food and nothing more. An animal’s appetite for food is always related to its real need for it, or the purpose for which it has been subdued. For example, an animal may abstain from having food for a long time, as shown when some animals hibernate, or obtain food at far intervals, as shown in some kinds of snakes, or refrain from food during periods of disease, injury or fracture, as is the case with horses, dogs, cats or so on, or at the time of journeying, emigration or procreation as is the case with salmon, some birds and mammals.

But man is different. He has been endowed with will and freedom of choice. Thus, his appetite for food may not be connected with his real need for it. He gets of it what is beyond his need, especially when it is available in various forms and kinds. Man in this age – as stated by one scientist – does not eat because he is hungry but rather to satisfy his appetite for food. The surplus food then accumulates in his body and leads to severe troubles in its different components, and the poisons of nutrients are stored in its tissues, resulting in imbalance, diseases and defects.

The dangers and risks resulting from consuming food in great quantities irregularly and without criterion have become an indisputable fact. According to one scientist, “It is certain that getting different kinds of food in succession, that is, to have one kind of food straight after another, overburdens the body’s metabolism. Getting rid of this habit will, necessarily, reduce the secretions of the digestive system hormones and insulin in great quantities, which preserves the health of the body and maintains for man a longer and better life. Research confirms that lab rats which eat every other day live 63 weeks longer than those allowed to eat whenever they want, and they are more active during the final weeks of life.”

With the beginning of the age of scientific renaissance in Europe, scientists began to call upon people not to consume excessive amounts of food, nor to excessively indulge in pleasures, and rather suggested fasting in order to reduce this. One of them addressed his people saying, “O poor miserable Italy! Do you not see that gluttony leads to the death of your citizens more than any spreading epidemic or sweeping war does? Such shameful banquets (photos of feasts and people who eat greedily) as are widespread these days are as harmful and detrimental as the most ferocious military war. For this reason, it is due upon us to eat only as much as is necessary to sustain our bodies properly; and any increase in the quantity of food only gratifies us temporarily. But in the end, we have to endure the results of this in the form of diseases, and even death in some cases.”

This is, indeed, a clear testimony to the truthfulness of the scientific miraculous nature of the Prophetic Hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah : “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach, even though it is sufficient for mankind to have only small morsels to sustain him. However, if it is necessary for him to do so (i.e. to fill his stomach), then let him assign one-third to his food, one-third to his drink, and one-third for his breath.” [At-Tirmithi, Ibn Maajah & Al-Haakim] Can we see how these non-Muslim scientists testify, with their words and research, to the Prophetic Hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah  given that they do not even know him and their beliefs are quite different from his?

Dr. Chin, an English physician who lived in the 18th century, said, “I do not know what people do in other countries, but we Protestants do not regard excess in consuming food as harmful or detrimental, to the extent that people look down upon their friends who do not eat their fill at every meal.”

One of the latest remedies for obesity is to fix a balloon-type device in the intestine as big as one-third its size, in order to determine the quantity of food and drink and forcibly leave one-third empty (for air). The result of treating obesity in this way is amazing. Allaah The Almighty certainly tells the truth when He says about His Prophet  (what means): {Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed.} [Quran 53:3-4]

Thus, Allaah The Almighty has ordained fasting thereby to purify man’s soul, discipline his behavior, and be a means of prevention and treatment for whatever diseases and ailments may afflict his body because of his relentlessly eating food in great quantities. In confirmation of that, He The Almighty Says (what means): {But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.} [Quran 2:184] That is, if only you knew the superiority and benefits of fasting. These benefits seem evident in our time for those upon whom Allaah has made fasting due and those who have concessions but can endure it.

These benefits include:

1- There is a relationship between fasting and the immune system: the functional index of lymphocytes improves ten times greater with fasting people. These are the blood cells that defend the body against the micro-organisms and foreign bodies that attack it. Furthermore, the ratio of the qualitative immune cells drastically increases in number. These are a particular kind of lymphocytes called T-cells. Some types of antibodies also increase, whose function is to destroy any organisms invading the body.

2- There is a relationship between fasting and prevention from obesity as well as a treatment of its dangers. Obesity may result from imbalance of metabolism, or from environmental, psychological and social pressures. The Islamic fasting is the preventive barrier to all of these causes, due to the mental and psychological stability brought about by fasting, which results from the spiritual atmosphere surrounding the fasting person; much worship, remembrance and mentioning of Allaah, recitation of the Quran, remoteness from excitement and tension, adjustment of motives and desires, and useful constructive utilization of psychological and physical energies. Fasting also treats the diseases resulting from obesity like arteriosclerosis, high blood-pressure and several types of heart disease.

3- Physicians believed and still believe that fasting has a negative effect on patients suffering from genitourinary tract diseases, especially those who are more susceptible to kidney stones or renal failure, and are, therefore, advised by physicians to not fast and drink a large quantity of liquids, although some scientific research has proven otherwise, according to which, while fasting, the rate of sodium rises in the blood, which impedes the crystallization of calcium salts and the urea increases in the blood and contributes in preventing sedimentation of uric salts which form stones of the genitourinary tract.

Fasting also has no negative effect upon those suffering from renal failure who need repeated dialysis, given that it is one of the most dangerous diseases that afflict the urinary system. It is also proven that fasting does not put to risk most diabetics: on the contrary, it is beneficial for a lot of them. It also poses no risk to breastfeeding and pregnant women, especially during the first six months of pregnancy.

4- Fasting protects the body from the toxins accumulated in its cells and between its tissues which result from eating food – especially canned and manufactured food, intake of medicines, and breathing in air polluted with such toxins.

5- Man receives benefit from the thirst he experiences while fasting. It helps to provide the body with energy, enhance the capability of learning, and strengthen the memory.

6- Fasting enhances the fertility of both men and women, and to fast often alleviates and placates the sexual desire of youth. In this way, it prevents psychological and physical disturbances and behavioral deviance. This is a confirmation of the scientific miracle of the Prophetic Hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah  where he said: “O community of youth, whoever among you has the ability to marry, let him marry; and whoever cannot, then let him adhere to fasting as it diminishes his sexual desire.” The male hormone testosterone falls notably with continuous fasting for many days, after which it rises remarkably. This may indicate that observing the Islamic fast often and reducing one’s intake of food during it, like continuous fasting, could curb sexual desire and then enhance it after the breaking of the fast.

7- Weak and sick cells collapse when deconstruction prevails over construction during fasting; and the body cells are renewed in the process of construction.

8- Many people think that fasting has a negative effect on their health, and see their bodies as if they are lifeless machines that work only by means of fuel. They seem to agree on the idea that the failure to have three meals daily poses great risks and produces harmful outcomes. This causes them to spend the whole night of Ramadan trying to compensate this missing meal by consuming great quantities of food and drink, and they spend most of the day fast asleep. Thereupon work stops, productivity decreases, and the rate of food and drink consumption increases!

The following are the decisive scientific proofs for the falsehood of this belief and conduct:

Verified scientific studies in physiology indicate the fact that the Islamic fast is very easy, during which the body is not exposed to any negative effects: on the contrary, the body receives many benefits which could not be gained without fasting. Islamic fasting is very easy upon the body. In confirmation of this, Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Allaah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.} [Quran 2:185] According to Ar-Raazi  “No doubt, Allaah The Almighty enjoins fasting in an easy and light manner, and for just a few days in the year. Moreover, He did not enjoin this short period of fasting upon the sick or the traveler.

This ease is apparent in the fact that it provides the body with all its nutritious needs. In this fasting, man abstains from food and drink for a limited time during the day, exactly from the break of dawn to the setting of the sun, and at night, he has the freedom to eat and drink. Thus, what fasting does is change the times in which one may consume food and drink, and not much more.

Allaah The Almighty has deposited in man stored energies which suffice him, in case of abstention from food, from one to three months during which he may consume no food at all. Based on this, many international sanatoriums were founded to treat a lot of diseases by what is called medical fasting, during which the sick or medically fasting person is deprived of all kinds of food and drink except pure water.

The Islamic 12 to16-hour fast, a part of which, as long as 5 hours lies within the absorption period just after eating, and most of which, as long as 12-14 hours, after absorption, is very safe by all scientific measures. During this period, all mechanisms of absorption are activated, and metabolism is balanced, giving way to the creation of a mechanism by which glycogen is dissolved and fats are oxidized and dissolved, and protein is dissolved and new glucose is formed from it. The body suffers no imbalance in any of its functions. Fats are not oxidized so much as to procreate harmful cationic bodies, nor is there any negative nitrogen imbalance that could affect the metabolism of protein. The brain cells, red blood cells and nervous system depend only on glucose to obtain energy.

Medical starvation or medical fasting, therefore, goes beyond the activation of these mechanisms and may go as far as to lead to imbalance in the functions of some physical organs. This is why the Messenger of Allaah  forbade continuous fasting in order to be easy and to facilitate fasting for his Ummah (nation). Thus, the body cells work naturally while fasting, and obtain all their needs from the huge reserve in the body. The nutrition processes never stop. It is only the processes of digestion and absorption which stop.

Islamic fasting is considered a unique metabolism as it includes both stages of construction and deconstruction. After both meals of Iftaar (fast-breaking) and Suhoor (pre-dawn), the construction of the important complexes starts in the cells, and the reserved substances are renewed, which have been consumed to produce energy; and after the absorption of the Suhoor meal, the deconstruction starts, and the nutritious reserve of glycogen and fat is dissolved in order to provide the body with the necessary energy during movement and activity throughout the day of fasting. This is why the Messenger of Allaah  confirmed and exhorted us to take the Suhoor meal, in order to provide the body with constructive substances. This is also why he  exhorted us to delay Suhoor and hasten to break the fast, in order to reduce the period of fasting so that it would not exceed the post absorption time as much as possible. Consequently, the Islamic fasting does not lead to difficulty nor harm the body, under any circumstances. On the contrary, fasting enhances the endurance of physical effort, and the competence of muscular performance.

Experiments have been conducted by a scientist in this respect, who said, in reference to the results, that the competence of muscular performance of people who are fasting in this interesting experiment improved by 20% with 30% of the subjects, and by 7% with 40%; and the heart rate has improved by 6%; and the product of multiplying the blood pressure by the pulse speed improved by 12%; and the feeling of shortness of breath by 9%; and the feeling of leg strain by 11%. This wonderful experiment renders false the concept that seems to be held by a lot people that fasting weakens physical effort and negatively affects activity and movement; thereupon they adhere to rest and stillness, and spend the greatest part of the day of fasting in sleep and idleness.

Who was it that told Muhammad  about those facts about fasting? Who told him that in fasting there is prevention from psychological and physical diseases? Who informed him about the fact that fasting diminishes a lot of sexual desires and alleviates its urge, especially among the youth? Who told him that in fasting there are benefits and advantages to be received by the healthy and those who could fast from among the sick and legally excused? Who told him that fasting is very easy and causes no harm to the body and does not put one to difficulty, given that he  was brought up in an environment in which the kind of fasting that was revealed to him was neither known nor practiced?

The one who informed him of all this was none other than Allaah The Almighty who Says to His Messenger  (what means): {But Allaah bears witness to that which He has revealed to you. He has sent it down with His knowledge.} [Quran 4:166]

Thus, scientists in this age see that which was brought by Muhammad  as the truth revealed from Allaah The Almighty; Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and it guides to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy.} [Quran 34:6]

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