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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-03

0211-HEALTH BENEFITS OF SAUM

Tadhkirat at the Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Kuantan on 9th November 2002 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. Web:  http://omarkasule.tripod.com.

1.0 TRAINING IN CONTROLLING THE FOOD APPETITE

Abundant epidemiological evidence has proved that diet is a co-factor in heart diseases and cancer. People or communities with excessive intake of certain types of foods are at increased risk for these diseases. Tobacco is linked to lung and oral cancers. In all such cases there is weak will power to control appetite for food or tobacco. Saum teaches appetite control. The advantages of saum should not be looked at only as deprivation of food for a limited time. The focus should be looked on the long-term benefits that a person undertaking saum gets from strengthening will-power and stopping eating or smoking even if they feel like to eat more.

 

2.0 TRAINING IN CONTROLLING THE SEX APPETITE

Saum helps in control of the sex drive[1]. Saum is a general protection, al siyaam junnat[2] [3]. It is protection for one unable to marry, al saum wijau li man lam yastati’u an baa’at[4]. It is a means of instilling sexual self-control, al saum li man khaafa al 'uzuubat[5].

 

3.0 TRAINING IN BEHAVIORAL SELF-RESTRAINT

Saum is an exercise and training in patience. Saum is half of patience, al saum nisf al sabr[6]. It helps control of aggression. A person in saum who is insulted does not respond in kind but just says 'I am in saum'[7]. Saum helps control the tongue; a person in saum who does not achieve this control gets not rewards from the fast[8].

 

4.0 PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT

Saum is freedom from the daily routines of life. It therefore leads to personal Empowerment. Saum has a beneficial impact on the daily routine of life. Saum breaks the normal routines of life that revolve around meals. It creates a different psychological milieu that liberates the mind from the routines of life and gives it an opportunity to reflect on the bigger issues of the creator, the good and the bad. It is surprising to many people to discover that their daily life routines are tightly controlled by the pattern of meals. A person in saum feels a sense of liberation in Ramadhan when the routines of daily life are changed. Ramadhan is therefore a time of stock-taking when a person can look back in his her life when he or she is in a different mood. Saum is empowerment. A person in saum is able to control the appetite for food and to withstand hunger for a whole day. This is an exercise in self-control and self-discipline that empowers the person. This empowerment can be transferred to other life activities.

 

5.0 TRAINING IN COMPASSION

Voluntary hunger in Ramadhan gives the rich practical experience of hunger that makes them understand and appreciate the suffering of the poor. It teaches compassion for the poor and the hungry in a practical way. Without this obligatory saum the wealthy would never taste physical hunger. The Qur’an emphasized the virtues of giving food to the needy[9]. The prophet taught the virtue of feeding others, fadhl al ‘it’aam[10] especially the hungry, it’aam al jai’u[11]. This can take any of the following forms: sadaqat, kaffaarat, zakat al maal, and zakaat al fitr. The prophet taught the virtue of sharing food when he said that the food of suffices 4[12]. He also taught that food not needed should be given to the needy, man kaana ghaniyan ‘an al ta’aam faliyuwajihahu ila ghayrihi[13]. Food security has been an important factor in the growth of human civilization. Early humans were hunter gatherers who spent most of the waking day looking for food and even with that they could not be sure that they could get their day’s meal. When humans settled down in communities and started domesticating plants and animals they were able to assure themselves of food without having to search the whole day. With the problem of food security solved humans could devote energy to tasks of building a sophisticated human civilization. The family unit must ensure food security especially since it has children and pregnant women who are very vulnerable to malnutrition. The prophet recommended putting aside food reserves for a whole year to ensure food security for the family. There is no true problem of food security in the world as a whole. The problem is poor distribution. Whereas food is being wasted in rich countries, humans in poor countries are starving. Situations of war and civil disturbance also create conditions of temporary food insecurity.



[1] Bukhari K30 B10

[2] Ahmad 1: 195

[3] Ahmad 1: 195

[4] Bukhari K30 B10

[5] Bukhari 3:129

[6]  Ahmad 4:260

[7] Bukhari K30 B9

[8] Bukhari K30 B8

[9] Qur’an 2:184

[10] Bukhari K79 B9

[11] Bukhari K70 B1

[12] Bukhari K70 B11

[13] Ahmad 5:65

Omar Hasan Kasule Sr October 2002