What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Muslim year. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, which means no eating and no drinking. The idea is to take time from our busy daily life and spend time with family and friends and appreciate the things and luxuries we have and take for granted. One glass of clean drinking water is a normal thing for us but it is a luxury for some people in the world. Ramadan makes you realise that it’s just not only about ME or MYSELF, we have to understand the duties we have towards the less fortunate, and help them as much as possible to make their life easy as well.
How do you practice Ramadan?
I get up around 4am to prepare a meal with my family and we eat sehri (the meal before starting our fast). I offer fajir (the morning prayer) and then get along with the day. The first two days are a bit different as the body takes time to get used to not eating and drinking during the day, but after two days it kind of becomes a habit. If I am at work or at university it is just a normal day, which includes two more prayers: zuhr (the midday prayer) and asr (the evening prayer). By dusk I try to be at home so I can break the fast with my family. It really helps to organise life in a better way, you get up early in the morning and you get to bed early as well, which makes the day more productive.
How long does it go for?
Ramadan is the name of name the month, so it lasts for almost thirty days. We start fasting before dawn around 5am, and we break the fast around 6pm (near dusk).
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
Once Ramadan is over we get three days of celebrations known as Eid-ul-Fitr. Eid is an Arabic term meaning ‘festivity’ or ’celebration’ and Fitr means ‘to break the fast’. The most important is the last night of Ramadan, known as ‘moon night’, which is very similar to Christmas Eve. I spend the night out shopping with my friends. Muslim communities organise family fun festivals which are great fun for everyone. After the day prayer we spend time at the community centre and catch up with friends and family.
What does Ramadan mean to you?
There are a lot of ways to look at Ramadan: it’s the month to get fit; it’s the month that brings you closer to your community and friends; it’s the month that bring you closer to God when you physically accept the fact that you won’t eat or drink anything for a certain period of time as God doesn’t want you to; and it’s the month of charity and donations, as Muslims all around the world donate 2.5% of their yearly savings to charities for supporting people in need. It’s also the month to get more social.
To me, Ramadan is the month to get fit; as we eat and drink most of the hours of the day, our stomach is always busy doing the job for us and when we don’t eat or drink anything from dawn to dusk it helps the digestive system relax for 10 to 11 hours, which ends up increasing our metabolism. Metabolic fasting for fat loss is a healthy way to burn fat and shed weight. I love this month of the year as it brings people together. I try to break the fast with my family, we eat good food, and spend more time with family and friends which make this month itself feel like a festival. Also, when I am fasting I understand how fortunate I am that I can afford food whenever I want. I see people around me eating and drinking and it’s like putting myself in someone else’s shoes, someone who doesn’t have everyday access to proper food and water, which makes me more considerate and generous towards others.
By Syed Zain Ali
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