March 27, 2023
DHAKA – I remember the day my mother announced she would no longer be serving jilapi during iftar. Our household received it with scoffs and side-eyes, and I found myself wondering if we should in fact be concerned about our bodies for this one month where we get a free pass to eat whatever we may want. After all, Ramadan isn’t about our body goals, it’s about spirituality.
In retrospect, maybe it was my one-dimensional understanding of what such rituals actually ask of us that fell short when trying to recognise the layers of her decision. Thinking of one’s health does not distort our spiritual endeavours, assuming we have the right intentions. Instead, it aids our relationship with spirituality. Having a healthy body alongside the right intentions is equally crucial for being able to carry out our religious obligations.
Ramadan is a month to reset one’s mind, soul, and health. It is completely reasonable to want to adopt a lifestyle during this month that will make us keep us healthy. Even though a vast majority of people associate being healthy with simply being thin, we must note that the one does not necessarily equal the other, since weight is only one aspect out of many to gauge how healthy we may be. And most importantly when fasting during Ramadan, the intention of losing weight should not be the main objective. Our actions are judged based on our intentions and hence the spiritual aspect should be the primary concern.
This should not mean that we need to turn a blind eye to the amazing health benefits of fasting regularly. If we feel the need to lose weight during Ramadan, chances are we should be on a balanced weight loss regimen outside this month as well. After all, keeping healthy is encouraged and a requirement that stands in and outside the holy month of Ramadan. People use this time for spiritual healing and there is no harm in using it for physical healing as well. It is also encouraged by medical experts that we exercise (moderately) this month, but it has to be done in a way that fuels us and does not exhaust our bodies.
There will be plenty of people breaking a sweat while trying to handle hectic personal schedules, night time prayers, rough Dhaka traffic, and eating like functioning human beings all at the same time. It’s no lie that juggling all of it whilst preserving spiritual integrity can be a struggle. Therefore, it’s important that we remain kind to ourselves throughout and not set our expectations too rigidly or unrealistically.
Perhaps the goal should not be losing weight, rather it should be to not use this month as an excuse to consume unhealthy food in unhealthy amounts. At the end of the day, when we attempt to follow a healthy lifestyle while fasting during Ramadan, we would be reaping the rewards both physically and spiritually.
We must also not forget that this month is also about connectivity and fostering love so let’s not weigh the outcomes of this month by the number on the scale.