Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Why Ramadan is bad and Lent is good

Mmm.....good soul food!

How does the Christian Lent compare with the Muslim fast of Ramadan? Is one really good and one really bad?
I believe so and will explain my reasons why.

Let me begin by quoting my own programme for today.

 Determined to make a good start in Lent and somewhat overwhelmed by the flood of good posts on fasting and by one Stanislaus Baboolovski's comments on Facebook, I began Lent in suitable style.

One Ryvita avec Marmite accompanied by a green tea was my first meal of the day - about 15 calories methinks.

Now, this is not in any way intended to be a brag, in fact, my normal breakfast is not much more than that.

But I did want to draw attention to what my good friends emphasized in their posts, namely, that giving up a bar of chocolate is pretty naff really and that our forbears did much, much more.

I recall my own parents' account of their Lenten fasts in Canning Town; one main meal a day which was always, salt cod - for the whole of Lent.

No milk or butter and the two remaining meals measured out so that they weighed only a couple of ounces.

Compare this with the Muslim regime during Ramadan.
No food or drink from before dawn until 9pm each night.

And the Ramadan diet!
Surely, that must be a better and more penitential course?

Well, if one was to ask a nutritionist to compare the two fasts, the Christian one would win hands down.
It is positively unhealthy to ask the body to go without food and liquids for anything up to 18 or 19 hours a day over a lengthy period.
It is also bad for the body (and the soul) to gorge on food as many Muslims do before sunup and after sundown.
It does not just make it penitential, it makes it life threatening. Why?

Think of a Brain Surgeon on a Ramadan fast, or for that matter, a bus driver or tool cutter or a nuclear physicist. Without sufficient liquid intake (especially), the body and subsequently, the brain, begins to malfunction; it begins to commit one's actions to errors of judgement.

In short, the chances that you are going to kill or maim yourself or someone else increase greatly.

It was customary in every College that I worked in, to bar Muslim students from working with any form of potentially dangerous technology during Ramadan. They were a danger to themselves and to others around them.

Furthermore, College staff would be reminded that severe fasting is liable to bring on what can only be described as temper attacks, when a student would snap at another and then a row or even a fight would break out.

Imagine now that you are a visitor to a Muslim country during Ramadan.What you do not do is walk through the streets eating an ice cream or quaffing a coke. You would come under verbal and physical attack and, in some countries, you would actually be in breach of the law.

Neither do you walk near a mosque or any place where folk gather in groups, tensions are heightened and the atmosphere is volatile.
Even Turkey, which might be described as a moderate country in Muslim terms, is far from safe for the unwary traveller.

Yet many Muslims regard our Lent as nothing more than an effeminate joke.

Whereas, we believe, as always, that so much of Catholic teaching and practice comes down to sound common sense and that our duty is to fast and abstain responsibly and safely.

Fast hard, but not so hard that you place your life and the lives of
         others in danger.

Pray, the one thing that we can be liberal about in Lent

Alms, the third requirement of this period, give and give until it hurts

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust of power, and idle talk;

But grant rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages.


  1. Thank you for an interesting perspective. I had not often considered the practices of fasting and abstinence from the perspective of the positive duty that one has to their own body. Thinking in terms of moral view was quite enlightening.

    Wishing a you blessed Lent.

  2. i have read this but i think that it is very biased because of the fact you are christian and have not experienced what it is like to be a Muslim during Ramadan, and your article is based on the stereotype of Muslims during Ramadan because not all Muslims are like that. Me, my friends and my family, for a fact, feel really blessed and are always in a happy mood during the month of Ramadan. And if you're saying that it is unhealthy i have asked a non-Muslim doctor in the UK about Ramadan and if it is unhealthy and they said that it is not unhealthy as long as you eat something full of nutrients when you break your fast and just before you start your fast. I'm sorry for such a long paragraph haha.

    Me, 15.