Prof Madya Dr Zulkifli HasanDean, Faculty of Syariah and Law
Ramadhan is the greatest month and the best time for self-regulation and self-training. There are numerous benefits to those who are fasting during Ramadhan either from spiritual or physical perspectives. The positive effects of Ramadhan and fasting have not only been mentioned in al Quran and al Sunnah but also by many scientific researches. In fact, there are few institutions that have been established to promote fasting as a way to prevent and heal diseases such as “Fasting Center International Incorporation” in the United States of America. This brief article attempts to highlight several interesting findings about Ramadhan and Fasting effects from four different perspectives namely economic, health and sciences, psychological and social point of views.
Understanding the Wisdom of Ramadhan and Fasting
According to the study undertaken by the University of New Hampshire led by Iranian-born finance Professor Ahmad Etebari, stocks in largely Muslim nations outperform during the month of Ramadhan. It is found that on average, stock returns are 9 times higher during Ramadhan than other times of year. The phenomenon is called the “Ramadan Effect. Between the stock markets of Bahrain, Oman, Turkey, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, the report identified a trend of considerably higher returns during Ramadhan as compared to other months. The study found that the average returns for the 15 countries from the database of 1989 to 2007 were 38% during the month of Ramadhan as compared to an average of 4.3% during ordinary months. The research reveals that that the social cohesion and institutional feelings attains during Ramadhan help influence the investments behavior.
In 1994 the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadhan”, 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. The congress made recommendations that Ramadhan fasting is an ideal method for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin dependent diabetes, obesity and essential hypertension. Allan Cott, in his famous book “Why Fast”, states that fasting has the effects to clean out the body; to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and to let the body heals itself. Another interesting finding refers to the ability of fasting habit to slow the aging process based on a research conducted by Dr. Yuri Nikolayev, Moscow scientist and dietician/nutritionist. This finding is supported with another research by Dr. Alvenia M. Fulton, by which his experiment indicates that fasting is the ladies best beautifier, brings grace charm and poise, normalizes female functions and reshapes the body contour.
As regard to psychological point of view, it is empirically proven that fasting can bring positive effects to psychological and mental health. At this point, Dr. Sabah al-Baqir from Medical Faculty of University of King Saud reveals that fasting will generate specific hormone which may relieve tension and to make a person to feel better physically and mentally.
Crime rate is also significantly decreased during the month of Ramadhan. I believe that this is phenomenal in many jurisdictions all over the world. According to the statistic produced by the Iranian Police Department, the Iran’s overall crime rate and murder rate have declined during the holy month of Ramadhan. There has been a 32% decline in homicides and the overall crime rate has dropped significantly. It is worth noting that the homicide rate in Iran is six murders per day and Iran stands 50th in the world in the homicide rate.
Ramadhan is the best time for family and social gathering. The Maktoob Research in UAE conducted a survey on the opinions of 6,128 adult Muslims from across the Arab world about Ramadhan. The survey reveals that 96% of Muslim Arabs observing the fasting month and it is also found that 86% of those surveyed tend to observe iftar as a good opportunity for family gatherings. This finding indirectly indicates that fasting during Ramadhan can strengthen the family institutions and community as well as provide best opportunity for the unity of the ummah.
Considering to numerous hadith on the rewards and benefits of sadaqah (charity) during the month of Ramadhan, it is observed that the willingness and efforts for charity and donation are significantly increased. According to Lung Transplantation Research Center, National Research Institute of TB and Lung Disease, Tehran, Iran, organ shortage is the most significant problem that they face for the activities of trans-plantation systems. In this regard, they carried out a survey on the Muslims’ behavior during holy month of Ramadan pertaining to organs donation in Iran. Interestingly, the survey reveals that the number of applications for organs donation in Ramadhan increase to 154% as compared to other months with a total of 11528 organ donations as opposed to 4538 applications in the previous month. This phenomenon indicates that Ramadhan seems to provide a great opportunity to promote organs donation across the Muslim world.
Ramadhan is the greatest and best month of the year. It is one of the blessings of Allah to the Muslim that He enables us to fast in Ramadhan. The blessed month of Ramadhan and ibadah of fasting not only offer us with great rewards from Allah but also with so many benefits either from economic or health and science, psychological or social perspectives. With this priceless opportunity from Allah to us, it is hoped that we can keep the spirit of month of Ramadhan not only during this blessed month but at all times and throughout the year.
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Cott, A. (1977). Fasting Is A Way Of Life. New York: Bantam Books.
Hassan Abohghasemi, Nasim Sadat Hosseini Divkalayi and Fariba Seighali. (2011). Contribution of religion to blood donation: Iran experience, Asian Journal of Transfusion Science, 5(2), pp. 185–186.
Katayoun Najafizadeh, Fariba Ghorbani, Sajjad Hamidinia, Mohammad Ali Emamhadi, Mohammad Ali Moinfar, Omid Ghobadi,Shervin Assari. (2010). Holy month of Ramadan and increase in organ donation willingness, Saudi Journal of Kidney Disease and Transplantation, 21, pp. 443-446.
Maktoob Research. (2008). Region-wide Survey on Ramadan Traditions and Practices. Dubai: Maktoob Research.
Scott Malone . (2010). Markets in Muslim Lands Rally During Ramadan-Study. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/08/03/stocks-ramadan-idUSN0317695120100803.