Here’s a brilliant look at the scientific benefits of doing the Baha’i Fast. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Here’s a brilliant look at the scientific benefits of doing the Baha’i Fast. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
During the Baha’I Fast, we come to God in an attitude of absolute humility as we say:
I am he, O my God, who testifieth to Thy unity, who acknowledgeth Thy oneness, who boweth humbly before the revelations of Thy majesty, and who recognizeth with downcast countenance the splendors of the light of Thy transcendent glory. I have believed in Thee after Thou didst enable me to know Thy Self. Whom Thou hast revealed to men’s eyes through the power of Thy sovereignty and might. Unto Him I have turned, wholly detached from all things, and cleaving steadfastly unto the cord of Thy gifts and favors. I have embraced His truth, and the truth of all the wondrous laws and precepts that have been sent down unto Him. I have fasted for love of Thee and in pursuance of Thine injunction, and have broken my fast with Thy praise on my tongue and in conformity with Thy pleasure.
Praised be Thou, therefore, O my God, inasmuch as Thou hast graciously enabled us to recognize Him and to acknowledge whatsoever hath been sent down unto Him, and conferred upon us the honor of attaining the presence of the One Whom Thou didst promise in Thy Book and in Thy Tablets. Thou seest me then, O my God, with my face turned towards Thee, cleaving steadfastly to the cord of Thy gracious providence and generosity, and clinging to the hem of Thy tender mercies and bountiful favors.
I confess, O my God, that whatever proceedeth from me is wholly unworthy of Thy sovereignty and falleth short of Thy majesty.
Forgiving and Most Bountiful art Thou, O my Lord! Power has Thou 255 to do what Thou pleasest. All else but Thee are impotent before the revelations of Thy might, are as lost in the face of the evidences of Thy wealth, are as nothing when compared with the manifestations of Thy transcendent sovereignty, and are destitute of all strength when face to face with the signs and tokens of Thy power. What refuge is there beside Thee, O my Lord, to which I can flee, and where is there a haven to which I can hasten? Nay, the power of Thy might beareth me witness! No protector is there but Thee, no place to flee to except Thee, no refuge to seek save Thee.
We know that every hour of the Fast is endowed with a special virtue, inscrutable only to God.
Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee . . . (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 245)
Still, I can’t help wondering if we can get a glimmer of what might be in store for us by looking at what we’re praying for in the Prayers for the Fast, and the virtue we might acquire as a result. I’ve culled the prayers to show what we’re praying for, and the virtue each implies.
Of course, we know that each word proceeding out of the Writings has 70+1 meanings
We speak one word, and by it we intend one and seventy meanings; each one of these meanings we can explain. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. 255)
Therefore, each phrase probably has many more virtues than I’ve thought of. Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Let’s have a look!
During the Fast, in addition to all these potential virtues, God has promised that He has:
Lauded be Thy name, o My God! This is the hour when Thou hast unlocked the doors of Thy bounty before the faces of Thy creatures, and opened wide the portals of Thy tender mercy unto all the dwellers of Thine earth. (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 249)
Blessed is the man that hath turned unto Him, and fulfilled the things He hath commanded. (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 258)
And that our transgressions have not hindered us from loving God and turning in the direction of His mercy:
The transgressions committed by such as have turned away from Thee and have borne themselves haughtily towards Thee have not availed to hinder them from loving Thee, and from setting their faces towards Thee, and from turning in the direction of Thy mercy. (Baha’u’llah, Baha’I Prayers, p. 256)
Baha’u’llah asks God to magnify Himself, so that we can see Him as:
And that we can see that through Him
Magnify Thou, O Lord my God, Him Who is the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Dayspring of Divinity, and the Manifestation of Thy Lordship, through Whom all the knowledge of the past and all the knowledge of the future were made plain, through Whom the pearls of Thy hidden wisdom were uncovered, and the mystery of Thy treasured name disclosed, Whom Thou hast appointed as the Announcer of the One through Whose name the letter B and the letter E have been joined and united, through Whom Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy words have been sent down, and Thy laws set forth with clearness, and Thy signs spread abroad, and Thy Word established, through Whom the hearts of Thy chosen ones were laid bare, and all that were in the heavens and all that were on the earth were gathered together. (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 257-258)
He then asks God to magnify those who have
Thou beholdest, O my God, what hath befallen Thy dear ones in Thy days. Thy glory beareth me witness! The voice of the lamentations of Thy chose ones hath been lifted up throughout Thy realm. Some were ensnared by the infidels in Thy land, and were hindered by them from having near access to Thee and from attaining the court of Thy glory. Others were able to approach Thee, but were kept back from beholding Thy face. Still others were permitted, in their eagerness to look upon Thee, to enter the precincts of Thy court, but they allowed the veils of the imaginations of Thy creatures and the wrongs inflicted by the oppressors among Thy people to come in between them and Thee. (Bahá’í Prayers, pps. 238-261)
How has this helped you understand the Fast better? Post your comments below:
There have been more articles and videos put together by Bahá’ís on the topic of the Fast, than for any other Holy Day, so I wanted to share the ones I’ve found with you, to inspire you, through this time of the year. If you know of any others, please add them to the comments below.
Articles: Click on the titles below to go to the article.
Do you know of any others? Please share them below:
For those of you looking for information on the practical side of The Fast, who have trouble starting or completing the Fast. This article is written especially for you.
We all know the first few days of the Fast are the hardest. One of the physical reasons for this is that the brain hitherto amply supplied with glucose from the regular ingestion of foodstuffs has to now get used to burning other sources of fuel as well as ketone bodies. This takes a few days of adjustment during which some people feel lousy and depressed.
Below I have outlined a few common problems which can cause problems for some Baha’is during the Fast
Stimulants alter the way in which our bodies provide us with energy. Coffee, tea & cola drinks for example, allows glucagon from the liver to be released as glucose to top up our flagging energy levels. If you rely on stimulants to get you through the day it’s likely you’ll find it pretty hard fasting. So start progressively cutting down your intake about 3- 6 weeks before the Fast starts so that the impact will be minimized when you do fast.
The Sugar Blues
The same can be said for relying on sweets throughout the day as this provides an extra load on the pancreas with reactive hypoglycaemia sometimes occurring following the commencement of the Fast. This is where people can feel weak, shaky or dizzy and often very irritable. When this happens some people begin to think of withdrawing from the fast. Cutting down your sugar products intake progressively before the Fast can help, but sometimes other nutrients are necessary to help improve glucose tolerance if this has been a long-term lifestyle choice.
Liquids and Constipation
Many people break there fast with one glass of liquid and then launch into a big meal, after several days of this some Baha’is get an awful, sick headache and start to feel constipated. This can be caused by several reasons, but one of interest here is insufficient fluids. The main take home message is we need to drink the same amount of liquids we would normally. That means not jumping out of bed 5 minutes before sunrise to grab a quick bite of toast and “toughing it out” through the day.
What it means is getting up well before time so that you can have several glasses of liquid well before your breakfast. This rehydrates the body and intestines contents before you eat. The same is true at the end of the day. Have 3 – 4 glasses of water, fruit juice or clear soup etc. and wait half an hour to eat. This will rehydrate you at the other end of the day. If you still feel dehydrated have one or two glasses of water at bedtime. This way your system should run smoothly and you should feel much more able to carry out your normal duties while fasting.
Some people eat a large breakfast but feel hungry again two hours later. We call these people “fast metabolisers”. For them a light breakfast is out of the question. Usually they need a meal with plenty of protein, some carbohydrate and some oil or fat. So a complex breakfast is likely to see them sustaining there energy levels better during the Fast than just having large quantities of carbohydrate foods.
Some people wake up grumpy or feeling very emotionally flat and don’t feel better until they have had a starchy breakfast. This is usually due to low serotonin. This is exacerbated during the fast. For some people they feel so low they want to stop fasting. The main thing to remember is to eat starchy foods at night so that serotonin will be higher in the morning and the world will seem a better place.
Skipping Breakfast during the Fast
If you normally skip breakfast and usually don’t eat until mid-morning or lunch. You’ll find for most people this is hard to do during the Fast as the fuel your running on from last nights meal will run out early in the day and there’ll be no mid-morning/lunch top up so your thirstiness and weakness will be exaggerated. You could “hit the wall” and not be able to do whatever you were meant to do for a short, or a long period of time. This is because the brain and muscles may not be receiving enough fuel to run efficiently. The key is good preparation. Make sure you eat breakfast at least during the fast.
So I hope these few tips help some of you to be able to enjoy the spiritual aspects of the Fast less encumbered by various preventable limitations.
Below are 10 top tips for healthy eating during the Fast:
1. Don’t gorge in the evenings: Large meals should be avoided because they can cause the digestive system to block after a long day of fasting. Therefore, break your fast with dates and water or juice as they contain simple sugars that can be absorbed easily by the body. Then try to have a balanced meal – soups are a good choice as they don’t stress the stomach and hydrate the body.
2. Stay off the Salt: Salty foods should be avoided as they will retain water in the body and cause discomfort.
3. Hydrate Yourself: A lack of fluids makes the body prone to dehydration and more likely to retain fats and toxins. So, drink ample quantities of water and fresh juices.
4. Eat Yoghurt: Yogurt is recommended at both meals, as it contains friendly bacteria which benefit the digestive tract. Yoghurt also helps digestion and cleanses the intestines from harmful bacteria. Also, it is a good source of calcium and protein.
5. Avoid Sugar and Grease: Fried foods and sweets should be consumed in moderation as they are full of saturated fats which raise cholesterol and adversely affect your health.
6. Get Moving:Exercise is very important during the Fast as it helps you maintain your body weight by burning the extra-calories and eliminating stress. It also has an essential role in preventing constipation.
7. Don’t Skip Breakfast: Many people tend to skip breakfast; however skipping meals will slow down your metabolism and lead to fatigue and distress. For Suhoor, try to choose foods that contain protein, complex carbohydrates and high-fibre foods such as wheat, oats, beans, whole grain bread, vegetables and seasonable fruits.Fibers and proteins take a long time to be digested so you won’t feel hungry.
8. Avoid Tea and Coffee: Tea, Coffee and carbonated beverages remove calcium from your body. It is therefore recommended that you avoid them especially at breakfast, as they increase salt and water excretion which your body needs during fasting.
9. Don’t neglect Protein: Consumption of protein is important in order to prevent muscle wasting; vegetarians should consider this when choosing non-animal protein sources.
10. Finish with Fruit: Intake of fruits after a meal is highly beneficial and provides the body with nutrients. Fasting could be effective in treating of moderate (non-insulin) diabetes, obesity and hypertension as the process lowers the blood sugar levels, cholesterol and the systolic blood pressure.
Nathalie Haddad, leading Dietician and Managing Director of Right Bite cautions: “It is highly important to eat moderately and focus on well-balanced and low-fat meals during the Fast. A light, healthy breakfast, one that is high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, will help prevent tiredness, poor concentration, dizziness and headaches. At dinner, it is important to consume food from all five groups with minimum fat content and to control portion sizes in order to avoid weight gain.”
Have I missed any? Post your comments here: