Sawm (صوم) is the Arabic word which refers to Islamic fasting. The observance of sawm during the Islamic month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and therefore a compulsory (fard) duty.
The salient features of Islamic fasting are:
*For 30 days every lunar year (during the month of Ramadan), waking up before dawn and eating and drinking to prepare for the fast
*Refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in sexual intercourse from dawn (fajr) to sunset (maghrib).
*Breaking the fast at sunset and again eating and drinking to prepare for the day ahead.
The adverse effects of Islamic fasting are vast and encompass such issues as; health, national economy and productivity, crime rates, public safety and social behavior. In practice, Islamic fasting is unlike medical fasting or fasting as found in other religious traditions. It is more accurately described as delayed eating; Muslims simply turn their eating habits upside down and gorge at dusk and at dawn.
Binge eating is a common habit during Ramadan. For example, in Egypt, national statistics point to a substantial increase in consumption of food, electricity, and medications related to digestive disorders during the month of Ramadan as compared with the monthly average in the rest of the year. Similarly in Doha, Qatar, almost 8,000 cases of indigestion were recorded at the Hamad Medical Hospital emergency room solely in the first week of Ramadan 2011, due to "most of the population sleeping during the day" and eating "large feasts".
Once the month of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims then observe Eid ul-Fitr ("Festival of Fast-Breaking"), a day to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Eid celebrations include the unprecedented large-scale slaughter of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of animals. In the Netherlands alone, which has little over a million Muslims, a 100,000 animals were slaughtered in 2010 for Eid al-Adha ("Festival of Sacrifice").
References for the article here: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Sawm
Adverse Effects of Islamic Fasting
Medical fasting is different from Islamic fasting (Sawm), and contrary to popular Muslim beliefs, Islamic fasting, unlike Medical fasting, has numerous adverse effects that have been observed using scientific studies and news sources. Intermittent and prolonged fasting is generally not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Depriving the body of water and essential nutrients by dividing and postponing meals to irregular intervals does nothing to limit consumption. In-fact it causes a host of health, performance and mood disorders. Fasting is not normally prescribed for the well being of human beings. Instead, it is commonly understood that eating healthy, smaller-portioned meals, interspersed throughout the day is far better in maintaining a well-balanced diet and far more forgiving on a person's metabolism. Any claims that prolonged and intermittent fasting contributes to the well-being of an individual's health are misleading, based on the scientific studies that prove otherwise. If the Islamic argument in favor of fasting is that “we fast because God commanded us to do so," then it is obvious that God is not a nutritionist or a dietitian because the negatives definitely outweigh the positives. So the question to the Muslim world is: what benefit does the Muslim world get for 1 billion people staying hungry throughout the day for one full month every year? Did Allah actually want Muslims to suffer physically, economically and socially for one month every year? Also, if fasting is beneficial as Muslims claim, why do Muslims not fast the entire year instead of just one month?
Read the full article here: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Adverse_Effects_of_Islamic_Fasting
The Ramadan Pole Paradox
This article consists of a set of questions and answers exploring Ramadan's relation to the North and South Poles. According to Islamic rules, the length of a fast is governed by the rising and the setting of the sun. This can cause a huge problem for those who live close to these poles. The closer we get to the poles, the longer our days or nights become. They can eventually extend for up to several months each, making the fourth Pillar of Islam impossible to practice without starving yourself to death. Obviously Muhammad was unaware of the poles.
Read the full article here: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/The_Ramadan_Pole_Paradox
Muslim Statistics (Ramadan and Eid)
With the advent of Ramadan in just a few days, child trafficking, a trade that sometimes goes unpunished in Yemen, is expected to increase as food prices rise and parents struggle to provide for their children.
"I think during Ramadan prices rise and there is a lapse of security along the borders," Coordinator of Child Parliament Om Khalthoum said.
Almost 1,500 Yemeni children were saved by child protection centers from exploitation, abuse and deprivation that come at the hands of their traffickers or smugglers, according to Naseem Ur-Rahman of UNICEF. Yemeni children, primarily boys, are trafficked into Saudi Arabia for exploitation as beggars, street vendors and unskilled laborers.
While there are no statistics that determine how many children are trafficked on an annual basis, authorities do know that during the month of Ramadan the numbers rise. "One of the main problems is that there is a lack of reliable data," Ur-Rahman said.
. . .
There is also a need for a legal description of children trafficking specifically for sex, begging or any other action that assists or encourages children to escape from their houses to practice prostitution or any other immoral actions. Occasionally children are even maimed or crippled in order to ensure success in begging.
. . .
Despite making great strides in recent years, the government of Yemen does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Even with their latest significant efforts, the Yemeni government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders or in preventing sex trafficking over the last year, according to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for 2009.
The Yemeni government reported no trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions during the reporting period, and took no steps to address trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
Read the full article here: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Muslim_Statistics_(Ramadan_and_Eid)
Ramadan Bombathon 2012
Oh, and don't forget to keep yourself up-to-date over at TROP with the latest scores in the 2012 Ramadan Bombathon. Islam (like last year, and the year before that) has taken an early lead: