January 1999: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 3

Infinite Variety

Continued from page 2

As humans, we tend to go through our day as if blindfolded. Unless we really concentrate, we’re too busy to notice anything around us. But when we take the time, all of our senses are assaulted with the wonder and variety of God’s creations. Watch the sunrises and the sunsets, the brilliant colors moving and changing across the sky—deep bright reds, pastel pinks and vivid yellow. Listen to the birds and the

amazing variety of their sounds—from the soft cooing of doves to the varied tunes of a mockingbird, the raucous harmony of a tree filled with song birds, as they glorify God in their own way. Smell the land after a rain, enjoy the perfume of blossoms filling the air. Feel the textures of the bark of a tree and the petals of a flower, or the soft fur of a puppy or kitten. Taste the fresh white snowflakes or a just-picked strawberry.

Remember that God didn’t have to create such a wondrous variety of

gifts for our senses. We could all survive with water, one kind of food and air to breathe. But how dull our lives would be. We need to recognize and appreciate that God made all of this for our enjoyment and our service. It’s important to take every opportunity to thank Him for these blessings of infinite variety.

If you count God’s blessings, you cannot possibly encompass them. (16:18)

Lydia Kelley

Medical Benefits of Ramadan

Most Muslims do not fast because of medical benefits but because it has been ordained to them in the Quran. The medical benefits of fasting are as a result of fasting. Fasting in general has been used in medicine for medical reasons including weight management, for rest of the digestive tract and for lowering lipids. There are many adverse effects of total fasting as well as so-called crash diets. Islamic fasting is different from such diet plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake. The caloric intake of Muslims during Ramadan is at or slightly below the national requirement guidelines. In addition, the fasting in Ramadan is voluntarily taken and is not a prescribed imposition from the physician.

Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan. If the lessons learned during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, it is beneficial for one’s entire life. Moreover, the type of food taken during Ramadan does not have any selective criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible is taken in moderate quantities.

The only difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing of the food; during Ramadan, we basically miss lunch and take an early breakfast and do not eat until dusk. Abstinence from water during this period is not bad at all and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration. 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 lower of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for 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 research papers from all over the world, from Muslim and non-Muslim researchers who have done 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 baseline medical condition. On the other hand, patients who are suffering from severe diseases, whether diabetes or coronary artery disease, kidney stones, etc., are exempt from fasting and should not try to fast.

…I encourage my Muslim patients to fast in the month of Ramadan, but they must do it under medical supervision. Healthy adult Muslims should not fear becoming weak by fasting, but instead it should improve their health and stamina.

Excerpts from Shahid Athar, M.D.