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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

THE DAY WILL COME WHEN EVERYONE WILL FAST

O Believers: Fasting as it was prescribed for those before you, is prescribed for you for a fixed number of days, that tou may be God-fearing. Any of you who is sick or on a journey will make up for the prescribed number of days on other, later days. For those who can not withstand its hardships, the ransom is to feed a poor man. Whoever does good voluntarily, that good is neglected back on him. And did you but know, fasting is better for you.

(Chapter 2 “The Baqarah ‘Cow’ Verses 183-187.)

The Day Will Come When Everyone Will Fast

If you perceive the truth, it is better for you to fast in spite of all its hardships.

We all know that four verses (Verses 183-187) in the chapter of Baqarah enjoin fasting, one of the main observances of our religion, and detail its conditions. We shall explain the truths underlined in the last part of Verse 184 from a medical point of view. This part emphasizes the fact that fasting is a good thing, yielding many beneficial results for us. It is declared that we can comprehend these blessings only if we can perceive the truth.

Until quite recently, fasting was regarded as nothing but a rest for the digestive system. As the medical sciences advanced, it was gradually realized that fasting is a medical marvel. This why the last sentence of the verse begins with : “If you perceive the truth.”

Let us now summarize, as we have done for earlier verses, what fasting contributes to our health in the scientific terms.

a) The Influence of Fasting on the Digestive System

The digestive system, as everyone knows, is composed of a crowded family of organs.Important organs such as the salivary glands in the mouth and jaw, the tongue, throat, alimentary canal and stomach, the duodenum, liver and pancreas, and various sections of the intestines are all components of this system. A significant aspect of this system is that all computerized order. As one starts to eat, or even with the intention to do so, the entire system is triggered, each part according to its own function. Needless to say, this system is subjected to wear since it is in duty 24 hours a day, and often as the result of nervous strain and malnutrition.

Fasting, then, is a one month period of rest imposed on the totality of this system. But the truly marvelous effect of fasting is on the liver. For the liver, besides its digestive role, has fifteen other functions. It is worn out just like a guard on duty all life long. Because of this, the secretion of bile for digestive purposes leads to problems of interference with its other functions.

During fasting, on the other hand, the liver can rest for 4-6 hours. For the reasons explained above, diets other than fasting are insufficient, because once a food particle as small as the tenth of gram gas entered the stomach, the computer of the digestive system is activated and the liver immediately stars functioning. From a scientific point of view, it can be claimed that this period of rest should comprise one month per year.

Contemporary man, placing an inordinately high value on this life, tries to feel secure by having frequent. Yet if a liver cell were endowed with speech, it would surely say: “The best thing you can do for me is to fast.”

Another service of fasting to the liver involves the chemistry of blood. One of the most difficult tasks of the liver is to maintain balance between ingested food and food that is burnt up. It has either to store each morsel, or to supervisee its consumption via the blood. In fasting, on the other hand, the liver is relieved of its nutrient storage duties to a great extent, and can devote its energies to the production of globulins which reinforce the immune system during this spell. The restful effect of fasting on the throat and esophagus, both of which are considered to be very sensitive organs, is likewise a priceless gift.

All of the effects the stomach derives from fasting are beneficial. The secretion of all stomach fluids is tempered. Because of this, acid is not accumulated during fasts even though an ordinary hunger result in hyperacidity, for acid secretion is interrupted with the intention to fast. In this way, the muscles of the stomach and its secretory cells are relaxed during the month of Ramadan. Contrary to the claims of those who have never fasted in their lives, a healthy stomach performs successful digestion when the fasts is broken in the evening.

Fasting also provides relaxation to the intestines, both in terms of secretions and of muscular movement. Beneath the endothelium of the intestines are a basic constituent of our immune system, the Peyer plaques. These plaques are subjected to a through renewal during fasts. We are thus protected against all the illnesses that assault the digestive tract.

b) The Benefits of Fasting to the Circulatory System

Blood volume decreases during the daytime in fasts. This affect provides valuable relief to the heart. More importantly, the decrease of intercellular fluid results in a reduction of tissue pressure. Tissue pressure, or diastolic pressure as it is more commonly known, is of great importance to the heart. Diastolic pressure is always low during fasts, so that the heart is relaxed. Further, modern man is afflicted by hypertension arising from various living conditions. Fasting for a month every year reduces diastolic pressure in particular.

The most important influence of fasting on the circulatory system is that relaxed on the blood vessels. It is common knowledge that one of the main reasons for the attrition and aging of blood vessels is the inadequate burn-up of food remnants. In fasting, on the other hand, and especially when the breaking time for the fast approaches, all nutrients in the blood are all utilized and no remainder is left. Therefore, fats and similar leftovers are not deposited in the arterial walls to cause constriction. Hence, fasting is also the best precaution against arteriosclerosis, one of the main health problems of our time.

Since the kidneys-which may be considered as part pf the circulatory system- are also rested during fasts, another very important organ is restored to health by fasting.

c) The Effect of Fasting on Cells

The effect that has the greatest influence on cells is the regulation of equilibrium in intra and intercellular fluids. Since intercellular fluids are reduced to a minimum in fasts, a significant relaxation of cellular functions occurs. Again, the epithelial cells which are responsible for continuous secretions in the body are afforded a significant rest and hence, restored to health during fasts. Speaking in cytological terms, the pituitary, thyroid and pancreas glands eagerly await the month of Ramadan, at least in order to catch their breath.

d) The Effect of Fasting on the Nervous System

It should clearly be understood that the ill temper and withdrawal reactions observed in some people during fasting has nothing to do with the nervous system. This condition is a reaction arising from the Despotic (or egotistic) self. On the contrary, the nervous system is in complete relaxation during fasts. The satisfaction of fulfilling a worship removes almost all our tensions and bad temper. With a more earnest surrender, even our worries are dissipated. In this way stresses, which are a serious problem in our day, are dispelled almost entirely.

Our separation from sexual desires during fasting also removes many negative influences from the nervous system.

The circulation in the brain, which is restored to a rigorous harmony through the joint effect of fasting and Washup, becomes a clear indicator of the healthy nervous system. As I have mentioned earlier, the rest afforded the internal glands- which are influential over the entire nervous system- is another of benefits of fasting on that system.

The subconscious, which is purged and soothed through the felicity of worship during Ramadan, erases all tensions from the nervous system.

e) Blood Formation and the Subtleties of Fasting

Blood is formed in the marrow of bones. Whenever blood is required in the body, a reflex stimulates the bone marrow. The bone marrow is sluggish especially in lean and anemic persons, as well as in urban dwellers. For this reason, ‘palefaces’ are on the increase every day.

During fasting, when nutrients in the blood fall to a minimal level, the bone marrow is stimulated. As a result, such anemics produce blood more easily when they fast. (Needless to say, persons with serious blood disorders will consult a doctor and have their medical checkups.) Since the liver is rested in fasting, it can prepare the materials needed by the bone marrow for blood production more easily and in greater quantity.

As a result of these multifaceted biological subtleties of fasting, lean persons gain weight when they fast. On the other hand, obese people lose weight because of the beneficial effects of fasts on overall health.

Yes, kind reader: Let us now recall the last sentence of Verse 184, and experience the joy of the Koran’s divine miracle:

“If you perceive the truth (i.e., if you know the true biology of the body), it is better for you to fast in spite of all its difficulties.”

Verses from the Glorious Qur’an and the Scientific Facts by Dr. Haluk Nurbaki

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