Ramadan is the month of multiple blessings. It is the time of fasting and of extensive spiritual exercise. It is the time when we change our everyday routine and set a new one: revolving around our religious duties more than around the worldly affairs.
During Ramadan, Muslims make special effort to find time for recitation and study of the Holy Quran, for supererogatory prayers, such as Taraweeh, and other charitable deeds.
The rewards in the Hereafter (akhira) for the good deeds done in Ramadan are manifold, but there are also more immediate benefits of Ramadan worship.
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It is widely known that people who fast enjoy spiritual and psychological well-being and that fasting is of great advantage to physical health. But it is not only fasting that profits our mind and spirit during Ramadan.
Taraweeh, the extra night prayers performed by the believers usually after Isha (evening prayers) and lasting from eight to twenty rakahs, brings great spiritual and psychological comforts, despite the physical and mental effort required to practice them.
Ibrahim B. Syed, doctor of medicine and the president of the Islamic Research Foundation International, in his essay ‘The Medical Benefits of Taraweeh Prayers’ published on the IRFI website, mentions the multiple benefits of tarawih for physical, emotional and mental health.
Mood & Mental State
According to Syed, taraweeh prayer, as indeed any prayer performed by Muslims, has the same effects on body and mind as gentle exercise.
Therefore tarawih improves mood, thought and behaviour in the same way as the exercise does.
Furthermore, the exercise of taraweeh “induces greater sense of well-being and energy, reduces anxiety and depression, influences mood favorably and contributes to self-esteem and an aura of confidence; improves memory in the elderly especially with constant repetition of the Ayaat”.
The relaxed state of mind achieved through tarawih may be partly due to the chemical response of brain to the combination of repeated muscular activity with repetition of recited words over a certain period of time.
The physical exercise, but also other activities such as meditation and prayer, leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters such as Endorphins and Encephalin positively affecting the brain.
The release of encephalin and Beta-endorphins (Endogenous Morphines) acts on the central and peripheral nervous systems to reduce pain and has a calming effect on the mind. The encephalin is one of the most potent opiate-like substance naturally occurring in body.
The endorphins too have an analgesic effect, but also reduce the negative effects of stress, bring feelings of euphoria and enhance the immune system.
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