Muslims the world over are at this time observing one of the most important months on the Islamic calendar. This month, called Ramadan in Arabic, is a month of fasting and increased spiritual awareness. The fast is a complete fast from dawn to sunset each day of the month. Complete, meaning no food or drink for the daylight hours.
Of course, persons who are ill, or whose health will be affected by fasting, are exempted. The fast is described in the Holy Quran as an activity aimed at increasing the spiritual well-being of the individual and piety. While several scientists, nutritionists and health experts have extolled the physical benefits of fasting on human beings, fasting in Islam is regarded primarily as an exercise in spiritual upliftment.
In the present world which is consumed with material progress, spirituality is often neglected or considered outdated. The trend, it seems, in many developed nations is to remove anything spiritual from the discussion and instead focus solely on the material world. Even religions themselves have been affected by the dissection of spirituality from the practices and rules of the religious teachings.
Followers of religions tend to focus on the dictates of the religious teachings and make every effort to perfect those teachings but ignore the spiritual aspects and purpose embodied in those teachings. A compelling account of this phenomena is contained in an article entitled Islamic Spirituality and Mental Well-Being by Zohair Abdul-Rahman.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, he has a B.Sc in Life Sciences with a minor in Psychology and a M.Sc in the Scientific Method. While the article focuses on Islam, I believe his findings essentially are universally applicable. I would like for my column today to quote from this article as I see its importance even in our Barbadian society which is grappling with a surge in societal issues and many differing points of view obtain as to the solution. Looking after our spiritual well-being…