Friday, May 20, 2016

On "fasting"

Last week I had a 82-year-old patient who came for elective percutaneous valve replacement to the hospital, but otherwise healthy. I asked him, how he made to age 82 without any long list of medications. He replied:

"Son! I didn't have a healthy lifestyle up to age 50. I smoke, drank and even experimented with drugs during the hippie era. I was obese, deconditioned and never thought of disease. Just before my 50th birthday, I became very short of breath just climbing a little hill during hunting. I felt very ashamed as older folks in our party were not showing any distress. On my birthday, I made a resolution. I never mentioned this to anyone. I quit alcohol, tobacco & junk food cold turkey, start walking every day 3 miles and promised to myself I will never take elevators or escalators but only stairs, no matter how many floors I have to climb. It was not easy when I visited Eiffel tower and New York".

"And that all paid off?" I asked

"Indeed! But what actually I think made the real difference was my deployment to Morocco at work. Just to experiment, I did 30 days of fasting with my Muslim colleagues. No no, I didn't become a Muslim. I am still a hardcore atheist but I lost 10 lbs in 30 days. I liked it so much that I am fasting since last 25 years. I made sure, I don't gain weight after fasting is over. That was the key. Are you a Muslim?"

"Yes I am", I replied

"I am at lost. Explain to me how come after having such an immense and deep impacted ritual, Muslims are so stagnant and on the decline"!

"I don't know Sir! I wish I knew the answer". I failed miserably to hide my embarrassment.


bsc said...

I hope there is truth in what I am saying
"Because Muslims fast for pleasure of Allah and not to loose weight"
However most Muslims eat more during Fasting days that is why they do not loose weight.
I regularly loose 5 to 10 pounds every year but put it back on within another month and BTW I am also 82 but not as healthy as your patient. I do take a 'fistful of pills' each morning though some of them are more for improving my chemical balance than any disease.Alhamdulillah I am given good health by Allah SWT

mehnaz said...

What an epiphany! And agree with uncle completely, may Allah bless him.
I feel we have become stagnant because we are forgetting the spiritual significance of fasting. Its a time for a spiritual detox also and as much as health benefits are apparent it should improve our spiritual health. We gave misguided priorities and have placed everything else except Allah in our center. I pray this blessed Ramadhan all of us get gifted by its numerous blessings especially of reflection and realization and that we become people of sharing.
May Allah guide us and improve our zahir and batin.

Mystic said...

Uncle and Mehnaz! - Point of this post was to say: If an atheist and non-muslim can see just an immense benefit of this ritual, and knows that there is a spiritual aspect of this ritual for believers, how come we fail to do so,, or at least appears to.

bsc said...

Yes your point Mystic is understood easily but I could not help
Actually some previous Ramadan I wrote in my blog that I am praying to Allah to accept my fasts as pure for Allah and forgive a hidden little wish for loosing weight. But for spiritual enhancement I am going to share with after 6th of june. Reason I am going to share discussion with some friends on that day how to get most of spiritual enhancement during this holy month May be I would learn something
Also that pt. of your is remarkable for doing all this. I know one classmate and room-mate of my son did the same fasting for the whole month and I thought he would convert but did not I still respected him so much

mystic-soul said...

Actually, in my life, I met so far 3 non-Muslims who fast like Muslims. One remarkable was one of our Hindu classmate in medical school, who fasted to avail the virtue of patience (sabar)

mehnaz said...

I think I said the same. We are forgetting the spiritual aspect and hence failing. How many of us reflect and understabd the spiritual hunger and desire spiritual sustenance

mystic-soul said...

Mehnaz: Yes you did. Indeed!!

Shaan said...

@Bsc..."Muslims fast for pleasure of Allah" this is believe of some muslims..
Allaha ko humari namaze humare rozo ki koi zarurat nahi hai yeh sab humarey liya hai....har cheez mei Allaha ne humari sehat aur humara zehan ki development karne ki koshish ki hai...