Ramadan diary: Feeling a sense of achievement and spiritual awareness
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I can’t believe I've completed the first week of my Ramadan, it went so quickly! I’m also really proud of my two daughters (only 12 and 13 years old) who also completed their first week of fasting - they will definitely be getting presents/gifts for their commitment, perseverance and resilience, from mum and dad at the end of the month!
I haven’t felt the strain of being tired compared to last week, as I had a good rest over the weekend and secondly I always find the first week of Ramadan a bit of a challenge as my body is adjusting to fasting.
Days 8 and 9, Monday and Tuesday April 19-20
So the alarm goes off at 3am and we go through same process, eat, pray and back to bed for few hours before waking up for work at 7am.
In these two days I have no longer found work to be a challenge whilst fasting, and I feel more productive as my mind retrains itself not to think of food but instead think of completing my daily work tasks.
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I feel my concentration levels are improving during fasting. For those from a non-Muslim background, you may think that fasting with no water or food for a whole day is “unhealthy". On the contrary, as we only fast during the day and can eat and drink after dusk and before dawn.
Also scientists have found that intermittent fasting helps the body to rejuvenate and repair, thereby promoting overall health. I must admit during my years of fasting I really do feel, cleansed, revitalised and detoxed and my mind feels less cloudy and forgetful!
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At the end of work I collect my daughters from school and on the way home we discuss what they would like to eat when it’s time to break their fasts.
I prepare food of their choice as well as my husband’s, ready for Iftar. In between preparing food, I also make time to complete my obligatory prayers, as do my daughters and husband.
Fast breaks at 8.09pm on Day 8 and 8.11pm on Day 9, we eat and get ready for the evening prayers Isha and Taraweeh which start from 9:45pm onwards.
The Taraweeh are ritual prayers performed by Muslims at night after the Isha prayer during the holy month of Ramadan, typically they last more than an hour, and involve reading long portions of the Qur'an.
Tarawih (or Taraweeh) is derived from the Arabic word meaning “to rest and relax”, and is seen as a special form of Islamic meditation.
Evening prayers are held at local mosques, and men and women go there to read in separate quarters. However women also have an option to pray from home, which I do with my daughters.
Due to the Covid situation our mosque has clear Covid guidelines and a first-come, first-served basis. So the majority this year (like my husband) will be praying from their homes.
Day 10, Wednesday April 21
I found getting back to bed a little harder today, as I have a few extra chores to do after work which I prefer not do during fasting month as it tires me out. So I didn’t sleep well, which has made me feel a little tired today.
I manage to get through work and at the end of the day collected my daughters and headed straight towards the orthodontist as my youngest had an appointment to review her braces.
By the time we get home it’s 5.30pm and I'm feeling really tired so decided to nap for an hour.
There was no food to prepare as I had done this the day before and wanted to have the energy for evening prayers. My daughters did the same after finishing their homework.
Fasting can only be completed by Muslims who are in good health, and children who haven’t reached puberty, the elderly, menstruating women and anyone with an underlying health condition are exempt.
If a healthy Muslim starts feeling unwell anytime during fasting it is advisable for them not to fast. The purpose of fasting should not be to harm oneself. Those who can’t fast usually give what is called Fidyah, where you pay for someone else to be fed during Ramadan.
Fasting is not just about not eating or drinking during the day but also about getting rid of bad habits and striving towards being a better individual. So for example avoiding cursing, smoking, fighting, arguing, gossiping or acting cranky!
This can be challenging at times, trust me, but with control and mindfulness it can be done!
Day 11, Thursday April 22
I had a better night’s sleep as I made sure I didn’t stress about the day ahead, because once again I had a busy afternoon after work as my younger daughter had her parent consultations via Zoom.
The meeting ends at 5.15pm and I start to prepare food for our fast break which today will end at 8:14pm. We always break fast with a date and glass of water before eating our main meal which today is lamb and couscous with vegetables! We then clean up and get ready for our evening prayers at 9:30pm.
Day 12, Friday 23
I can’t believe it's Friday! Week 2 nearly complete and I'm once again looking forward to the weekend.
I feel a sense of achievement and spiritual awareness. I’m feeling a lot calmer in myself due to the blessed month of Ramadan as I learn to let go of all materialistic needs and get rid of unkind thoughts if someone has upset me.
I try to focus on being a better person, rising above all negative feelings and letting go. When you feel hunger in your stomach you know there are people out in the world who have
less then you or who have lost everything they loved through war and famine.
It makes you feel humble and although those people out there are struggling bt in Ramadan all Muslims (who can and are able to afford) make a great effort to ensure their Zakat (charity in form of money) reaches those who need it the most.
I touched on Zakat briefly last week, but didn't mention how it works. It’s not about giving a tenner here or there, it is much more than this.
Zakat (charity in the form of money) is the third pillar of Islam and is an obligatory act of charity amounting to 2.5% of a Muslim’s annual savings.
Zakat is intended to purify our wealth, not just physically, but also spiritually. It purifies our heart against selfishness as well as ensuring that societies' poorest are protected against hunger and destitution.
Zakat helps to keep the economy flowing by freeing people from burden and giving them the chance to reach their potential too. Zakat, when it works properly, should have a long-term positive impact for the state of the whole community.
Days 13 and 14, Saturday and Sunday April 24-25
The weekend has arrived! For most of this time I sit back and read the Qur’an in Arabic (with English translation), as I don’t really get a chance to read during the week due to the pressures of work, family, cooking and catching up on missed prayers.
Many Muslims who can stay up at night after prayers will read the Qur’an, so I make time at the weekends during Ramadan to dedicate my time reading as it was in this blessed month that the Qur’an was revealed!
The weekend is also a time when I can prepare more food and hand out to my neighbours, family and friends before breaking fast, as this blessed month is about sharing too!
I may not be able to invite family or friends over to share food due to the current Covid lockdown situation, but I still can make food and hand it out for all to enjoy!