The Science of Melanin*
By Dr. Karl Maret
The Science of Melanin*
By Dr. Karl Maret
Yoga and Meditation literally “repair” your DNA to Eliminate Disease and Depression*
By Vicki Batts
Balancing activities like Tai Chi, yoga and meditation are touted for their ability to promote a sense of well-being and reduce stress, but is there more to it than meets the eye? While these exercises are known for being great ways to relax, new research has shown that their benefits extend far past the ephemeral. The relief mind-body interventions can offer isn’t just mental; in fact, these activities can actually bring about physical changes at the molecular level.
A recent study led by scientists from Coventry University and Radboud University have shown that mind-body interventions can turn back molecular reactions within your DNA that cause disease and depression.
The study’s lead researcher Ivana Buric, from the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, commented,
“These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs [mind-body interventions] cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”
Buric also noted that millions of people are already reaping the benefits of mind-body exercises like yoga and Tai Chi, without even realizing how truly beneficial these activities are for their bodies. Buric states that while more studies still need to be done to fully ascertain the scope of what mind-body intervention can do, she believes that their research is a key building block for future research efforts.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, their study analyzes more than a decades’ worth of research on how mind-body intervention strategies can impact the behavior of DNA. Genetic expression was a focal point of the team’s research, because the way genes are activated to produce proteins can have a system-wide impact. The biological composition of the brain, body and immune system can all be affected by the way genetic proteins are expressed.
In total, the team reviewed 18 studies with a combined 846 participants. The experts determined that when looked at as a whole, the 11 years of data “reveal a pattern in the molecular changes which happen to the body as a result of MBIS [mind-body interventions], and how those changes benefit our mental and physical health.”
It’s known that when a person undergoes a stressful event, their body goes into what’s often known as the “flight or fight” response. This process also triggers the production of a molecule that regulates gene expression, known as nuclear factor kappa B, or NF-kB.
“NF-kB translates stress by activating genes to produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at cellular level,” as Science Daily explains.
While this reaction is useful temporarily, when it is consistent over time, it can be quite damaging and increase the risk of diseases like cancer and disorders like depression. It can even accelerate the aging process.
However, the research team found that people who practice mind-body interventions on a regular basis showcase a reduction in the production of NF-kB and related cytokines. In turn, this leads to a decrease and reversal of pro-inflammatory gene expression. Ultimately, this lowers the risk of inflammation-related conditions.
Past research on meditation and other similar activities has also indicated that these exercises can have far-reaching effects on the brain and body. For example, recent research has shown that meditation can help keep your brain youthful and on average, reduce “brain age” by over seven years. Earlier this year, a research team from Harvard University also found that yoga can elicit positive changes in metabolic function.
These mind-body activities are clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Le Moulinet: Indigenous French Muslims
The amazing, first-time visual documentation of a handful of French families living in seclusion in secular France, after having converted to Shi’a Islam
Post-Ramadhan Renewal: 5 Lessons to Live By
Trauma Has Trickled Down for Generations*
How symptoms of mental illness manifest in Black women, and the steps you can take toward healing.
By Angela Fichter
The shooting death of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old pregnant mother of four, by Seattle police has brought anger and criticism yet again of the way police engage African Americans. The Seattle Police Department’s history of using excessive force and employing discriminatory practices against Black Seattleites prompted the 2011 U.S. Justice Department investigation into the SPD’s conduct, resulting in court-ordered reforms. In 2015, the SPD began training officers in crisis intervention for people with behavioral problems, but a pattern of criminalizing Black people persists.
Lyles called 911 on June 18 to report a break-in. Police say officers killed her because she had confronted them with a knife. The Lyles family says she was battling a recently discovered mental illness.
That doesn’t surprise Jennifer Henderson, a Seattle-based licensed mental health counselor with a special focus on Black mental health.
In 1925, Fred Goree, a brick mason and manager in the Negro Baseball League, was killed in St. Louis by White policemen on his way to a baseball game. Goree, who was 33 years old, was stopped in his brand-new Buick for allegedly speeding. When he protested for being unjustly targeted, he was beaten to death on a public street, shot twice, and left in a ditch. Black and White witnesses provided conflicting statements, and the officers were never convicted. He was the primary breadwinner for his family, which included his wife, three children, his mother, and 13 siblings.
Henderson is Goree’s granddaughter. Though she never knew her grandfather, she’s felt the impact of trauma throughout her personal life, including through her mother, whom she described as “guarded, emotionally cold, and disconnected at times.”
Henderson explains how trauma disproportionately impacts Black women and the steps they can take to heal.
Angela Fichter: How does trauma uniquely impact Black women?
Jenny Henderson: Black women start with a level of trauma that we’ve inherited genetically. The trickle-down effect of slavery, discrimination and oppression, in addition to the ongoing trauma we experience in our neighborhoods, including police brutality, has a compound effect.
Our basic family structure has been undermined over the years because our men have been removed from the family. [They’re] incarcerated at larger numbers for longer periods of time, often due to no behavior or fault of their own. That leaves many of us without the financial or emotional support we might otherwise have.
Fichter: How do symptoms of mental illness manifest in Black women?
Henderson: We definitely see symptoms of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and a heightened state of anxiety, tension, and fear … explosive anger with little or no provocation. It can be what you call hyper-vigilance, where a person is very much aware, or even frightened, of the environment, constantly [questioning] if there’s a dangerous situation to be aware of.
How many times have we seen an angry mom, throwing her kids around, cursing at them? This could likely be related to racial trauma they’ve [personally] experienced—racism in the workplace and out in the world.
Fichter: What about the “angry Black woman” stereotype?
Henderson: And why is she so angry? She’s angry because oftentimes she’s been traumatized firsthand, within the family, and through intergenerational trauma [trauma passed down through generations]. She may have been treated aggressively by the police, or is facing domestic violence or sexual abuse. So, naturally her ability to regulate her emotions is going to be drastically decreased. You see mood swings and angry, defensive behavior.
Women tend to internalize emotions and are more likely to be depressed in the way the trauma or dysfunction manifests; but with males, they tend to outwardly express emotion in a way that is socially acceptable for them, which is anger.
Fichter: How has repeated exposure to trauma impacted intimacy within Black communities?
Henderson: It comes back to trust—the ability to have faith in another person, to be open, and allow oneself to be vulnerable in sharing love, communicating emotion, and being completely transparent and honest.
Oftentimes, Black women do not have a partner at all, and when they do, there’s baggage because of the experiences of being slighted, missed opportunities, and having to go above and beyond just to be considered good enough. All of that impacts our relationships. It adds a heaviness to our heart that causes difficulty interacting with one another in a positive, loving, peaceful way.
Fichter: What are ways young Black girls can address self-care before an emotional or mental state spirals out of control?
Henderson: Prevention. Mentoring is incredibly important, and I don’t think it should wait until there’s a problem. There are groups and agencies, but many very seldom recruit or maintain mentors of color, and mentors [have to] have a sense of what these kids go through in life—what would motivate and inspire them, and what things to be cautious of during the mentoring process.
[My] son had a White mentor, who built a large high-powered motor toy gun, painted it grey, then took him out in public to shoot Nerf pellets at various targets.
That could have ended up tragically, just like Tamir Rice. These mentors need some training on those appropriate interactions. But with that education, mentoring can be an incredibly powerful tool to guide people in the right direction when they need it.
[In addition to community stigma, Henderson acknowledges the history of racism in the medical and health fields that has prevented many African Americans from seeking mental health care. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which monitors mental health service utilization among patients over 18, only around 8.6% of Black Americans used services, compared to 17.1% of Whites, between 2008 and 2012.
Black psychologists make up less than 6 percent of the nation’s practicing psychologists, but are growing in number, and most of them are women. Younger generations of African Americans are beginning to change their attitudes toward addressing mental health, and Henderson is starting to see younger patients.]
Fichter: What are your top three tips for Black women and girls struggling with their emotions and mental health?
Henderson: First and foremost, she should do everything within her power to learn about the greatness we come from, and the history of accomplishments excluded from our history books. [She must know] she comes from greatness and is capable and able to achieve greatness.
Reach out for help to everybody she can possibly think of: teachers, mentors, tutors, counselors at school, other women, and mental health agencies. Ask for what she needs, and if she doesn’t know what that is, she can still reach out and say,
“I need something, but I don’t know what it is. Can you help me figure it out?
I feel like I’m not enough, can do better, like I can be happier, and I don’t know how to do it.”
If she reaches out to somebody who can’t or doesn’t want to help, she shouldn’t stop there, but continue until she finds that support.
Trust your intuition. Learn how to tune in, listen, and follow it. Consistently, without exception, it will guide us toward what’s best and right for us, and toward opportunities that are better. Sometimes we need to leave where we are and listen to our intuition to know where we need to go.
The Beast of Burden on the Path of Enlightenment*
By Jennifer Deisher
Where else would “God” be found but in the service of Creation itself?
The Earth is a living entity and an intricate, diverse web of all kinds of systems.
As an invited guest, we are living and functioning within her ecosystem because she welcomes us and allows us to be here. We are made of her elements and we are occupants of her Body and Heart.
She is, quite literally, the key to everything in our known universe. She is under our feet and in the air we breathe.
Our planet is our Mother, our home, and our Life-force. It doesn’t matter how skilled we are at meditation or connecting with Spirit because we always come home — right where you are right now.
Through our relationships to the Earth, we find the spiritual and energetic connection that is available to all of us when we leave our hearts and minds open.
That energy – the flow of life – is a continuous cycle of growth and decay, chaos and order, and an ever evolving ecosystem (including humanity) that reflects the nature of our ever-evolving Universe.
But, in our illusory co-existence, we have come to put a “price tag” on Mother Earth and on ourselves by extension, all the while forgetting she is the divine giver of Life… and she can shake us off like a flea at any moment.
The Nature of the Beast
Every intellectual, artist, spiritual leader and scientist will tell you that their inspiration comes from studying the delicate and intelligent design of natural Creation.
Its intricate intelligence is an overwhelmingly profound but consistent and logical interpretation of “God” — the expression of a universal consciousness.
By the expression of this live-giving consciousness, the Earth herself shows a Loving intention; through her thriving beauty and nurturing abundance.
It’s an honestly wonderful and natural epiphany when we can finally come to terms with the fact that “God” has been right here all along, revealing intricate miracle after miracle, right before our eyes. The miracle of Life itself.
Just as intricate, however, is an ancient web of lies that has kept humanity from truly living its divine truth.
As a species, we should feel honoured and humbled to participate in the interactive evolutionary experience that is Earth. But today, something has gone terribly awry.
Steve Taylor Ph.D, author and senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, described this phenomenon in his recent article, Ecocide: The Psychology of Environmental Destruction:
…‘Climate change’ is just one of the environment-related problems we face. Others include the destruction and pollution of ecosystems, the disappearance of other species (both animal and plant), water shortage, over-population, and the rapacious consumption of resources…
Would a sane species abuse their own habitat so recklessly? And would they allow such dangerous trends to intensify without taking any serious measures against them?..
In my view, there are two main psychological factors. The first is what I call our “over-developed sense of ego,” or intensified sense of individuality… Our ego-separateness means that we don’t feel connected to the “web of creation,” the network of life on Earth.
As a result, we don’t feel a responsibility to the rest of the network, or a duty to preserve its harmony.
Instead, our separateness makes us feel entitled to dominate the rest of nature, which is why we feel entitled to own land and natural resources.
The second factor is our “de-sacralised” vision of nature, our inability to sense the “being-ness” of natural phenomena.
As children, we perceive the world around us with intense and vivid perception, and the natural world does appear alive to us, but as adults, our vision of the world becomes de-sensitised and automatic.
We “switch off” to the vivid “is-ness” which we experience as children. The phenomenal world becomes a shadowy, one-dimensional place.
Oh what a tangled web we weave!
This sickness in our collective psyche – this beast of illusion/delusion – is something we have learned to deny to ourselves at all costs, to our own detriment.
We have come to compartmentalize our own existence, believing ourselves to be separate somehow from Mother Earth and the Universe at large.
Stranger Than Fiction
The deceptions that lead us to this false sense of separation go to our very foundations, distorting our sense of self and all that is sacred.
So, when we first begin to see though the illusion, the unbearable emotions of betrayal and fear many of experience can feel like too hard a burden to bear.
It can chill our bones and stoke our innermost fears. Heartbreaking. Painful. And usually very lonely.
Sometimes the truth is hard and, more often than not, much stranger than fiction. Ultimately, however, the truth is unavoidable. It is also extremely empowering.
By first understanding the nature of these deceptions and distortions, and the energy that brought us here, we can begin heal from them on a collective, vibrational level.
“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” ~ Micheal Ellner
Deception is not necessarily natural to our being rather it’s something we learn to live with at a young age. As a society, we have learned to adapt to a near impossible situation; a false dichotomy of separation, imposed and implanted by deceit.
An unnatural consciousness has pervaded our collective mind, and its effects have permeate our shared existence in a multitude of ways; through paternalistic governments that presume to dictate our rights, not protect them; through divisive religions that teach separation from god, and from other faiths;
Through illusory media, which deliberately sells fiction as fact; through manipulated economies, founded on a presumption of inherent debt; through poisonous “health” practices; through the suppression of history; through spiritual misinformation; and through educating our kids in a way that steers, not expands, their natural way of thinking.
All of these distortions serve to manipulate the collective conscious into submission perpetuating an imbalance that provides power and sustenance to those in energetic control.
But today, we have reached a breaking point. The cycle of consensual abuse is breaking down. We are realizing en masse that we have lived out of balance for too long.
We are questioning our existence at a fundamental level, and re-discovering the divine power we have in our lives; power that we have unknowingly given up for so long.
And so, realizing we are a conscious part of the Earth’s eco-system and energy-system, we are being compelled to take responsibility for co-creating a more authentic future, restoring the balance and harmony to Earth – with and for one another.
Finding Order in the Chaos
We can no longer stand quietly in a corner in fear of making the necessary and emotionally uncomfortable changes.
If we don’t turn our fear into courage, our fears will either consume us or they will become manifest. It’s a beast of a journey, but there is a clear path just ahead.
The collective identity crisis we are going through is an opportunity for humanity to find order in the chaos we have allowed to overtake our existence.
It doesn’t matter if we call it archons, satan, or an opposing consciousness. It doesn’t matter whether you see its effect in government or religion, banks or media; it is all part of the same illusion.
Unseen forces have deceived humanity into a state of confusion and disconnection, and we now have the opportunity to reclaim our spiritual center and create a culture that leads us home, not astray.
There is nothing wrong or out of place with this kind of identity crisis, rather it’s a natural process of evolution as we adapt to seemingly overwhelming situations.
But it is vital we realize these situations are the creation and perpetuation of a blatantly unnecessary struggle. We have spent eons chasing our collective tails and our “leaders” could end it all with the stroke of a pen.
They know it and we know it. We have both the resources and the will to support peace, prosperity, health, respect, connection and co-operation, but our institutions have become twisted into machines of war, competition, imposed poverty, illness, and control.
How? Because we tasked someone else to do it for us. We became comfortable separating ourselves from ourselves. As it turns out, we were our own worst enemy; our very nature carefully manipulated against us.
There are many ways we can begin to find order in the chaos. Start by looking in the mirror. Ask questions of yourSelf, and open your perspective.
Connect with the Earth. Our intuition is clearest within the realms of nature. Know your ‘enemies’, both seen and unseen. Know that only light can eliminate darkness.
Transparency ensures Truth. Understand that, if it operates in secret you can be sure it is not operating in your favor.
If in doubt, follow the ‘money trail’. It’s a sure way to know what path someone is truly walking.
Most importantly, come to know your infinite power. Recognize where you give your power away, and where you can reclaim it. That’s where your new path becomes most clear.
The Path of Knowledge
It is true, we have been moulded with deliberately altered perspectives and values into a society dependent on the undependable. But that doesn’t make us victims;
Most of us have unknowingly enabled the power structure that has manipulated our collective consciousness, working for and even defending the status quo, following orders and “bringing home the bacon” in a sleepy state of unquestioning compliance.
What it does make us is responsible for contributing to the solution, through conscious action.
Simply speaking, we either consent to the deception, or we stand up together and change it, each contributing in whatever unique way the universe provides us individually.
Trust the path of knowledge that you are walking down. As we share our truth, we test our own knowledge and knowing, and cultivate a healthy relationship with our truth. We realize our new awareness is not “all in our head”.
We begin to remove the emotional blocks (humiliation, self-doubt, fear) that stop us from speaking our own truth more freely, and we more easily find others to share our path.
We learn to live as spiritually sovereign “masters of our domain”. We begin to forge healthier relationships with our Self and others. And by living in our Truth, we find sustenance, guidance and inspiration in new and surprising ways.
We re-establish our unobstructed connection to the divine. And we create a blueprint of purpose that benefits us on a vibrational level, as well as Mother Earth. (We’re all interconnected, yeah?)
It’s not always easy to burden a deeper level of awareness but it’s no longer an excuse to “let someone else handle it” either.
We have reached a choice point in our human history and we have to decide whether we’re going to stand tall in our humanness and, to find a strategy to turn this energy around, we have to truly understand our position and our part in getting here, and bravely be the change our most authentic self wants to see in the world.
It can feel isolating and chaotic, but in the big picture, we’re right where we need to be on the path of our evolution. These are exciting times!
We know what it’s like to destroy together, but do we truly know the power of what we can create together if we’re on the same page? Remember your light and your own power. Our potential is infinite.
Home is Where the Heart Is
“God” is found in the service of Creation itself. She is in the air we breathe and the Earth beneath our feet, the fire that burns the cobwebs away and the spiritual river that cleanses our hearts; not a paternalistic figure in the sky but the divine Mother of Life from whom we are born and sustained, and to whom we finally return.
We are a part of her and she is an inextricably part of us. The history we share with her is important.
We must learn to recognize her (and ourselves) as the manifestation of divine intelligence, and honor her in our words and deeds.
As we each adopt the common philosophy of “home is where the heart is”, we can begin to heal and re-build our planet and our societies in a grassroots way (literally), supporting and co-creating in our physical communities, online and otherwise.
There is no way to truly live authentically from inside an illusion. As we move into our new awareness, our inner truth and our outer world can become increasingly incompatible.
We find ourselves dissatisfied with small changes, feeling compelled to take the leap and re-shape our lives at a fundamental level. This takes trust.
Just know that when we begin to walk a different path, new roads will always be waiting for us up ahead. The path of true enlightenment has no dead ends.
So, if you’re in the process of questioning that toxic relationship in your life or the job that makes you feel less than honourable, stop and consider if this article is the ‘nudge’ you’ve been waiting for.
At some point, we each have to begin to trust in the process of disconnecting from illusions of the world around us, and all its trappings, and let go of external factors and emotional attachments that speak of our consent and support of this distorted state of existence.
It’s so important right now, as things are surfacing so quickly, to stay in our hearts. On this path of awakening, our “self-work” is never, ever done… because we are infinite and we never stop creating.
Creation is, and always has been, all around us. We are a part of creation, and it is a part of us. Co-creating is our purpose for being here together.
It is time we take our power back from alphabet agencies and secret agendas.
Sharing our unique insights and gifts, we can shine light into the shadows and create a future of enlightenment, not illusion.
The Manifesto of the Awakened*
To the Few Whom This Concerns:
Re: The deliberate subjugation of our people and planet
While you continue to hypocritically blame humanity for the dire plight of our world, we hereby put you on notice that we are well aware that it is you, the financial, corporate, military, scientific and governmental agents and, most of all, the dark shadow forces behind you, that we know full well comprise and empower the destructive global power grid, that are responsible for our current engineered crises and overall social condition.
You’ve brought us and our planet to the precipice. If you do not cease and desist, what is soon to come will be blood on your hands, cause untold suffering, and all for naught as far as your designs are concerned. You too will shrivel up in the dustbin of history as just another invasive parasite that couldn’t succeed in its self-serving designs for all its efforts.
This will be tolerated no longer.
If there is an ounce of humanity left in any of you, defect and help us expose and bring down these life ending forces. You, your children, your grandchildren and anything you may still hold dear are already suffering and will also perish in the catastrophe that we are soon destined for if you do not respond.
We are aware. We are awake and activated. We will do everything within and without our personal power to see our race and planet survive and shake this parasitic invasion. Our planet itself will not take this attempted overthrow. Know that, and expect repercussions from Her, as well as us, a gathering storm of sacred truth you cannot possibly fathom.
Your opposition, resistance and puny, short-sighted efforts are dwarfed by what awaits you.
Will you find your humanity in time? We think many of you could, and those of you who do will be welcomed amongst the awakened. However, we realize many are beyond redemption.
But don’t try to fool us. We’re more on to you than you could ever imagine.
Just watch and see. We will surprise you, just as you fear.
We’re here. We live. We cannot be stopped nor thwarted by any means despite your flimsy efforts.
The truth and love we bear are coming for you. Truth and cosmic resonance cannot be denied and any aberration from it will be mitigated.
That’s just the way it is.
Think about it. If you dare.
The Eternally Awakened
Inner Dimensions of Ramadhan Fasting*
By Abu Hamid al-Ghazali
It should be known that there are three grades of Ramadhan Fasting: ordinary, special and extra special.
Ordinary Fasting means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.
Special Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet – and all other organs – free from sin.
Extra special Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world. Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of God, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.
To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true Auliya and the intimates of God. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to God, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than God, Great and Glorious is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: ‘Say: “Allah (sent it down)”: then leave them to play in their vain discussions.’ [al-An’am, 6:91]
Inward Requirements for Ramadhan Fasting
As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment:
A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He. Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, said: ‘The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of God will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.’
Jabir relates from Anas that Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, said: ‘Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.’
Guarding one’s tongue from idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He, and with recitation of Holy Quran. This is the fasting of the tongue. Sufyan Said: ‘Backbiting annuls the Fast.’ Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: ‘Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.’
Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, said: ‘Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am Fasting, I am Fasting!”‘
According to Tradition: ‘Two women were Fasting during the time of Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst that they were on the verge of collapsing. They therefore sent a message to Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.” One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Great and Glorious is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”‘
Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why God, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer, in His words, Great and Glorious is He: ‘Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain.’ [al-Ma’idah, 5:42]
God, Great and Glorious is He, also said: ‘Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit?’ [al-Ma’idah, 5:63]
Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Great and Glorious is He, said: ‘You are then just like them.’ [al-Nisa, 4:140] That is why the Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, said: ‘The backbiter and his listener are copartners in sin.’
Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast – to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful. A man who Fast like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food injurious in quantity not in quality, so Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison. The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. Holy Prophet Mohammad, on him be peace, said: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.
Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.
The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.
One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the night Prayers (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Great and Glorious is He:
‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr, 97:1]
Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.
After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted, so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.
It is related of al-Hasan ibn Abil Hasan al-Basri that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: ‘God, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.’ In too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while for one who has suffered rejection laughter will be precluded by remorse.
Of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: ‘You are an aged elder; Fasting would enfeeble you.’ But he replied: ‘By this I am making ready for a long journey, Obedience to God, Great and Glorious is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.’
Such are the inwardly significant meanings of Fasting.