Thundering, slamming sounds of doors locking. Roaring noises of steel chains clattering together.
Hearts melt as the smiles fill the skies. And the golden gates are opened, filling the universe with the sparkling scents of Heaven. People from all around the world gather together, excited and anxious to be amongst the frontrunners.
From every race, age and color, the chosen contestants hold hands in peace; awaiting further reminders before they head off for the big win.
“Listen up people! This is it! The doors of Hell are locked, the devils are chained down and the gates of Paradise are wide open. Now we start the 30-day countdown of the Amazing Race! Let’s make EVERY. SECOND. COUNT!”
Millions of Muslims raise their hands to the sky and chant in unity “Allahu Akbar! God Is Great!”
“The more people you help along the way, the more you raise your chances of winning the ultimate reward. So stay close and have each other’s backs! Now please pick up a copy of your craziest imagination before heading to conference room A for a staff meeting with your organs. Good luck!”
Health Benefits of Fasting
All the organs take their seats, giving full attention to the heart that stands up and speaks first.
“I’d like to welcome you all to this great event. I’ll be your team leader and I would like to hereby make it very clear that my approval is essential before every word and action you make. That means you, Mr. Brain!”
“Hey! What did I do?” The brain looks innocently confused.
“I would rather this meeting be productive so I won’t be pointing fingers. We are one family after all,” the heart replies calmly. “If you look at the white board, you’ll see a list of job descriptions and goals for the holy month. Let’s go through them quickly.”
– Lungs: Good news! Fasting helps remove built-up toxins here. This month is for you to literally take a ‘breather’.
– Stomach: You will be using the foodless and waterless hours to work on removing any waste matter and allowing for better digestion. Good luck!
– Blood vessels: Since less blood will flow to the digestive system, more blood will go to other tissues, removing the cholesterol building up in the blood vessels. About time!
– Intestines: Like the stomach, you will finally use this period for detoxification.
– Kidneys: You will absorb more salt and water, which will help stabilize blood pressure, improving kidney function and avoiding kidney stones. Congratulations!
– Immune system: Fasting regulates inflammatory conditions in the body, reduces stress on the internal system so we can fight infections, and starves many types of cancer cells. Impressive, huh?
– Complexion: While fasting, the body has free time to focus its regenerative energies on other systems, clearing up skin, sweat glands and preventing acne. That’s why we glow in Ramadan!
– Liver: Reserved glycogen in the liver will be broken into glucose, which the rest of the organs can use as extra fuel or energy. Thanks, pal! We owe you one.
– Body fat: When the supply of glycogen runs out, we turn to stored body fat, breaking it into fatty acids and converting that to useable energy. Let’s lose some of that stubborn weight this summer, guys!
– Brain: Fasting boosts serotonin levels – the ‘happy hormone’ – which beats depression. It also enhances the production of proteins that activate brain stem cells, promotes brain functions, and protects it from diseases such as Alzheimer’s. We’re all counting on you this month, dude! “Ummm, Mr. Brain? Are you there?”
“Ouch! Horrible headache! Ahhhhh, this really hurts!” the brain screams, as loud sirens shake the room. Attention! Brace yourself while system resets. I repeat. All organs brace yourselves. This is an automated message.
“What’s happening?” the kidney twins panic. “Is that an earthquake? Oh my God, we’re getting dizzy!”
“No that’s the brain going into shock. It’s one of the expected side effects of adjusting to the new system,” the heart replies. “Guys if you’ll excuse us, I need to talk to the brain privately please.”
Mental benefits of fasting
The heart delicately puts its hand on the brain and speaks softly. “Listen to me. I know the headache hurts but it will only last a day or two till the body adjusts to the fasting process. I need you to stay strong. This will pass. I promise! Just wait it out.”
“I want pain killers, coffee, sweets, anything. Please!” the brain yelps.
“A war is raging inside because you’re physically feeling hunger and thirst to the fullest. But I’m in charge now and I will see you through this,” says the heart. “You’ll thank me later and here’s why:
– You’ll experience increased focus, mental clarity and creativity.
– Fasting is a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy mental state through clearing out suppressed ‘emotional baggage’.
– You’ll be able to better control impulsive urges, enhancing wisdom.
– The body will discontinue bad habits, overcoming addictions.
– Fasting improves quality of sleep.
– Ultimate awareness and living the ‘now’ helps you feel the ‘joy’.
– Fasting strengthens your will and inner power.”
“You can do this,” continues the heart. “This is the training you need to survive another year in the outside world. Together, you and me, we will win this race every single day because we have the ultimate goal in mind: pleasing Allah and attaining the highest levels of Paradise inshAllah. You’re not alone, pal.”
“Oh you’re so sweet. How come we don’t spend more time together? Listening to you is really soothing. You’re so pure and genuine!” coos the brain.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” the heart winks back jokingly. “Now let’s catch up with the rest in conference room B. The soul will be giving the final talk.”
Spiritual benefits of fasting
Dressed in a sheer white suit, the inner being welcomes each organ with a rose. The sound of Qur’an in the background fills the room with tranquility. After the recitation is done, the soul stands up and asks the audience to close their eyes.
“Shhhhhhhh. Listen to the silence inside of you. Separate yourselves from the worldly life for a moment and focus your attention inwards,” Soul says.
– The body starts to feel lighter, senses are heightened and our beliefs and principles are crystalized. It’s Allah’s pleasure we are seeking.
-This is the chance to embrace your new beginning. Even those with the worst past can create the best future.
– The energies of the universe are bright and colorful in Ramadan. Your aura is cleansed and activated. Polish the mirror of your heart to reflect the Divine Light.
-Feel the presence of your Lord and the angels guarding you, recording your deeds. Allow yourself to absorb this month’s blessed glory.
“Fasting is more than abstaining from food and water; it’s a spiritual journey towards Paradise. Let’s work as one team and promise ourselves to stay on the right path this year, folks. Thank you for being here and good luck!” Soul concludes.
I overhear the chitchats of millions of contestants on their way out of the auditoriums. I couldn’t help eavesdropping on some random conversations.
“Man, that was impressive! It’s like all the organs are one happy family. How come we aren’t as close to our own parents and siblings outside Ramadan?” “Tell me about it. Like my brother is so annoying I fantasize about punching him in the face sometimes.” “I don’t remember the last time we all had a meal together!”
“My husband is married to his social media. I think if I disappear, the only way he will notice is if someone posts it on Facebook!”
I run quickly to fetch the blueprints for the next phase of the race and I chuckle with amusement.
Feel free to gather some ‘hasanat’ (Godly rewards) and comment below with tips on how to stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy during the holy month of Ramadan.
First published 5 June 2016
Stay tuned for episode II: Joy is a Six-Letter Word.