Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Ready for Ramadan?

Ramadan is fast approaching, evoking excitement and much anticipation about this holy month. The very thought of Ramadan conjures up images of a splendid month of fasting and guarding the soul, highlighted by extra visits to the mosque for Salat-ut-Taraweeh and a general spirit of well-wishing and generosity. And no mention of Ramadan would be complete without referring to the special foods and drinks that are prepared in this month, that have come to strengthen our cherished bond with this time of the year. Samosas, special sweets and drinks all lighten up the dinner table at Iftaar.

With the joys and wonders of Ramadan, sometimes, we also face newer issues such as excessive sleeping and eating, obesity, heartburn, constipation, lethargy, disturbed routines. These are problems that have mushroomed up in recent years due to our own mishandling of this auspicious month and they greatly reduce what we can gain from Ramadan. To help ensure our Ramadan this year is fruitful and fulfilling in all ways, spiritual, physical and even social, here are some general tips and advice.

As Ramadan approaches, prepare yourself both mentally and physically. Make an effort to unburden yourself at work in Ramadan by getting more work done in the preceding month. If that is not possible, then try to reorganize your routine ahead of Ramadan, to ease the transition and to shift the workload appropriately.

Examine your individual routine, or collectively as a family, to plan for Ramadan. In Ramadan, sleeping at night tends to become limited, to make more time for prayer and awaken earlier for Suhoor, so prepare your mind and body by trying to sleep earlier and waking up earlier as well. “Early to bed, early to rise” may be cliché but for Ramadan, it is especially important. This way you’ll save yourself from lethargy and ‘dark circles’ when Ramadan actually arrives. Tick off items on the “pending chores” list. Try to get the kitchen cabinets cleaned out in advance and fix that leaky tap before end of Shaban!

For housewives and working ladies, there’s extra work in Ramadan, related to food preparation and shopping for Eid clothes and gifts. This extra load can be lessened by preparing storable food items in advance and completing much of the Eid shopping (if not all) before Ramadan. This relieves physical as well as mental pressures and burdens on ladies in Ramadan, making more time for worship and prayer.

As Ramadan draws nearer, make a sincere effort to switch to healthier eating habits because indeed, binging on food cannot be made the focus of this month. This does not mean that one gives up good food but rather that the food is taken in the right quantity and manner. Some general meal-time advice for Ramadan:

In the time leading up to Ramadan, adopt simple Sunnah that encourage healthier food habits, like eating only when hungry and refraining from eating your fill (rather, leaving a portion of the stomach empty). This will make your body more active, light and full of energy by stimulating the utilization of internal energy stores. Your body will also store energy in the right way which will be helpful in Ramadan.

Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet that contains food from all the major food groups – cereals, poultry, meat, fruits and vegetables.

Organize your meals, especially at Iftaar. Experts say that binge eating at Iftaar – or Suhoor for that matter – has no positive effect on energy levels and an average meal of healthy foods is best. If you’re having Iftaar and also plan to have dinner later, lighten either meal and try to bring in a gap of at least three hours between the two. Also, for a more fulfilling sleep, avoid eating within two hours before your bedtime. The best recommendation would be to take an Iftaar of fruits, juices and other light snacks, including Samosas if you wish and then, if the need is felt, to take a light dinner later on (perhaps after Taraweeh).

For Suhoor, include slow-digesting foods such as foods that contain grain and seeds like barley, wheat, millets, oat, semolina, lentils, beans, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice. These last longer – up to 8 hours and provide good energy, compared to fast-digesting foods such as those containing refined carbohydrates (white flour) and excess of refined sugar. Fast-digesting foods only last about 3-4 hours, resulting in lower energy levels throughout the day and thus, should be consumed preferably at Iftaar (light sandwiches, for example).

Avoid excess of spicy and fried items as they cause heartburn, obesity, acidity and also increase thirst. So Samosas and Kebabs are fine, as long as one doesn’t binge on them! Here also, encourage high-fiber foods because they help to counter acidity, heartburn as well as constipation.

Juices and fresh fruits are a must for Iftaar as they restore essential minerals and water levels, thereby preventing dehydration, constipation, cramps, formation of kidney stones and lethargy. Dehydration and loss of calcium, magnesium and potassium will make you dizzy and fatigue easily in Taraweeh so this is something that cannot be taken lightly. Dates are a rich source of fiber, carbohydrates as well as the essential minerals just mentioned so a couple of dates at Iftaar is a truly refreshing Sunnah.

Try to cut down on caffeinated drinks and beverages in Ramadan because these drinks actually increase urine output, robbing the body of essential minerals and salts, thus actually aggravating dehydration and muscle-cramping.

Try a hand at these simple and easy tips and you’ll notice the difference. I speak from experience when I say that you’ll actually enjoy yourself more this way and even lose a few pounds by the end of Ramadan. That’s spiritual as well as physical gain that cannot be found, no matter how hard you try, in stuffing in all kinds of food at every meal in Ramadan. Here’s the key to unlocking the true joys and rewards of Ramadan, with a little extra effort. Wishing you all the best and a great Ramadan!

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13 responses to “Ready for Ramadan?

  1. tabman July 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    oops I just realized that this Ramadan is going to be long, Maghirb is after 8, some real fun ahead 🙂

    too add to this blog post I personally think this Ramadan is not similar to what we have seen in the past. We are living in a society where people are dying of hunger and committing suicide. There is a world food crisis and the soaring prices of food. Anyone who reads this should perhaps try to make a point to do charity this ramadan as never before, cut on your eid shopping as never before and give out generously to the poor. There is no need to buy new clothes just to show to your relative that we have new clothes. Just look at the situation the country is in and you’ll realize there is no need. This eid lets buy a new cloth for the poor.

    There are around four persons on average in a household. If every one out of them commits to support one person break the fast all of Ramadan I think the benefit would be tremendous. A good meal one time fast would cost around 50 Rs and 50*30 = 1500 Rs per person for Ramadan, I’m sure all of us who have are reading this and can afford a PC to read this can afford 1500 Rs for one month. Lets also make the poor taste juices and fresh fruits.

    And here is a nice article by Bilal Philips on Fasting:
    http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/639/

    @Ameera if you find any good points in these comments and would like to use in your next post related to Ramadan or something you now think you should do please take it

  2. Ameera August 3, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Jazakillah tabman!!!

    Those were some great comments and really made me think more seriously about our shopping. Now, I’m rethinking my idea of buying atleast 2-3 new dresses to wear in the Eid occassions!

    You’re right about what you said, and in the light of the current state of our nation, we must not be spending on our ownselves like that. My article was more general in it’s discussion but your points are really valuable and I’d like to write about this aspect in another post on Ramadan, InshAllah!

    My Quran teacher said yesterday, to our class, that we keep our money with us, thinking, “When I find a *deserving* person, I’ll give it away…” but we keep waiting instead of going out and looking for such people. That’s my problem too because I can’t think of others except my maid! Still, I’m not making an effort to look for the needy either. I see the Saylani welfare trust working, giving out free meals, on a busy roadside twice daily and I wonder, if they can do THAT, why can’t we find people in dire need of money around us?

    Important points to think about, yes!

  3. Ameera August 3, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Also, Jazakillah for linking to that comprehensive and enlightening article!!! 🙂

  4. tabman August 4, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    ummm I’m trying to comment and its not showing up, are you moderating the comments ?

  5. Ameera August 5, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I haven’t been moderating anything actually… that must be some internet glitch! :S

  6. tabman August 6, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I don’t know something seems to be wrong, I’m trying to post a particular comment and it won’t show up and if I post again it says “duplicate comment” even though nothing is showing up

    And now this comment would show you

  7. tabman August 6, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I am deliberately not writing the links as I think that is the reason the comments are not showing up

    Here it goes:

    yeah I do agree with the maid dilemma but I guess then you have the Edhi option.

    Let me tell you of a program in case you haven’t come across this. Check out Economic Terrorism Part-11 and Part-12 from the following link:

    The speaker made some very good points in Part-11 and at least it helped me understand the “self-need versus desire” idea. And don’t be deceived by the titles, they are about charity and helping people.

    If you realize you liked the program you can support it here:

  8. tabman August 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

    the missing links:

    1. brasstacks.coolpage.biz/tv-med.htm

    2.www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=27538772832

  9. tabman August 6, 2008 at 9:16 am

    And they recently started a wiki project:
    http://www.brasstackspakistan.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

    They need volunteers for various projects and people who can spread the message in their local sphere. You being from Al-Huda can play a role and give the content to your friends,colleagues,students etc. (obviously only if you agree with the speaker views)

  10. Ameera August 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Jazakillah tabman!

    I’m actually aware of Brasstacks… one of my friends told me about it and also told me to watch the program. I wasn’t able to unfortunately but I hope I could soon InshAllah! Watching online isn’t possible for me actually.

    As for helping out that’s a good idea and if I cant do it directly, I’ll forward the message InshAllah once I have an idea about the program. I’m not part of Al Huda actually, just a student there and helped run the summer course so I’m no “representative” actually… heheh.

    I also receive emails from BT sometimes as my friend put me on the mailing list. I just hope I manage to watch it/read about it to start promoting their projects as well… I love their spirit and optimism though… working as a jamat is the need of the hour!

    Jazakillah!

  11. Ameera August 7, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    I’ve joined the group on FB!

  12. tabman August 15, 2008 at 11:34 am

    ummm I thought I should inform you as I have been vehemently promoting their program

    This speaker has an inclination towards Musharraf (which I was not aware of earlier) and I don’t support people who sell our sister to foreign countries

    check out this thread:
    http://www.new.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=27538772832&topic=5954

    and an article by Zaid Hamid:
    http://www.ahmedquraishi.com/article_detail.php?id=409

    sorry for turning your blog into a political discussion table 🙂

    you can remove this comment if you like but I thought, as I highly recommended the program to you, I should give you the full picture

  13. Hammad Siddiqui June 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Jazakallah kherun for sharing!!

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