Islam is a demanding religion, requiring a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of the faithful execution of the duties of worship. Basic duties, known as the “five pillars of Islam”, the most difficult of which is the fourth pillar, the prohibition to fast in the daytime (when there is no food, drink, Smoking and sexual activity is allowed) during the lunar month of Ramadan, that is 29 or 30 days. It’s definitely a grueling requirement, whose health and economic impacts can be significant (children, sick and elderly are exempt).
There is growing evidence to show that fasting in Ramadan has a negative impact on health, which, in turn, can adversely affect performance and production. Naturally, the longer the fasting period, the greater the effect – this is especially true when Ramadan falls in the summer months in Northern Europe, as at present. The duration of the day post this year in the UK is around 19 hours.
Studies of the Dutch scientist Reyn van Ewijk points to an array of long-term health problems as a result, the Ramadan. For those women who chose to fast during pregnancy, it can cause significant negative health effects on the offspring, regardless of the stage of pregnancy in which Ramadan took place.
The impact of fasting before birth is associated with poorer overall health. It also increases a person’s chances of developing symptoms that indicate serious health problems such as coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus type 2 and elderly people who were exposed during certain stages of pregnancy can lead to anemia.
Researchers labor protection were revealed various adverse effects on health from severe dehydration, including headaches, dizziness and nausea.
In the Muslim world, one word encapsulates the economic reality of Ramadan: “slow” – that means less work and more slowly. Article in the Arab news in July 2013, it is assumed that labour productivity decreased by as much as 35% to 50% as a result of the shortened working day and lifestyle change in a month, so that decisions and vital meetings are postponed until the end.
In an extensive survey, economists Felipe Campante and David Yanagizawa-drott show that Ramadan fasting has a significant negative impact on output growth in Muslim countries. A survey by Standard Dinar, strategy of growth, believes that in the organization of the Islamic conference, the working day is reduced on average by two hours during Ramadan (in PDF format).
If we assume 21 working days per month, it leads to the loss of 42 Hours. There is no indication that this watch is made for the rest of the year. If, on average, 1700 hours worked during the year, this loss represents a decline of 2.5 percent in output per year.
The performance decreases not only from physical exertion, but from the interruption of flow and work organization. It is reasonable to assume that the decline in productivity will lead to a further reduction in production of at least 3% each year, which represents a significant annual decline impact of Ramadan.
It is significant that the OIC countries have never conducted extensive research to establish the exact impact of Ramadan on their economies. What is more surprising is that international organizations such as the world Bank, the international monetary Fund and development program of the United Nations, have also not performed this study, perhaps because of its delicate nature.
It is sometimes argued that instead of Ramadan has a detrimental effect, actually increases subjective well-being among Muslims. But the use of subjective well-being against the authoritarian doctrines, including religion, should be treated with caution, especially in autocratic regimes. This is especially true for countries with a Muslim majority, where apostasy and blasphemy is unbearable.
Given this, adherence to dogmas and rituals of the faith demanded, and shows the approval of the family, the community, and (hopefully) the Almighty. Otherwise bringing shame and disgrace to the family, clan and society as a whole. So, naturally, when asked about the performance of religious duties, believers consider it a good reason to improve well-being, even if the debt in question – for example, the month of fasting – is clearly harmful to human health.
Accordingly, the expected positive subjective well-being effects of Ramadan disadvantages of the indicator of genuine prosperity. Medical science has long made clear that regular consumption of foods and drinks are essential for good health and soundness of mind. Given the significant and growing number of Muslims living in the UK, it is time the issue of health and economic effects of Ramadan fasting given due attention by national and local authorities, business and society as a whole.
• Rumy Hasan, a lecturer at Sussex University, wrote a book about the influence of religion on the growth and development in less developed countries
- This article was corrected to clarify the position in relation to pregnant women to fast during Ramadan.