A medical student reveals what Ramadan means for her

Medical student Nadeen Al Hayek has been fasting for Ramadan.

Medical student Nadeen Al Hayek has been fasting for Ramadan. - Credit: Nadeen Al Hayek

Its 6:50am when my alarm turns on and I wake up to get ready for my hospital placement. I am a student dietitian currently finishing off my second year of university.

The moment of waking up is when you feel you have a dry mouth and would like a sip of water. It is also the first lesson you reflect on.

Whilst this thought and feeling might only be lasting for a month, for other people it might be a lifetime.

This month instils empathy within me and other Muslims. Understanding the experiences and situations of those less fortunate among us and the feeling of hunger and thirst many people around the world feel every waking day as they are forced to go without food or drink, is one of the greatest lessons of Ramadan.

I catch the 7:56 am train, making my way to the hospital. On my 40 minute train journey, I tend to often recite the Quran (Muslim’s Holy Book). Once arrived, I have a 15 minute walk across a river to the hospital to complete.

During my walk, I usually reflect on all the different creations we are surrounded by and the small details found in the small world we live in. While walking quickly, I peacefully look around at the trees waving its branches, the birds sailing across the sky. I take a deep breath and feel the cold breeze blow my face

All those little details and creations are those of God (Allah) and it is whom we fast for during this month.

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I arrive at the hospital and make my way to the office to start my shift. During my time in the hospital, I have a lot on my plate. Reviewing patients about their new supplement drink and oral intake to meeting new patients and formulating a nutritional diagnosis and on to telephone calls in the clinic to set smart goals for patients are all stuff that keep me busy until 5pm.

Home time is the hardest for me, as it’s when I feel the most tired and hungry. It is also when I reflect the most, one of the most important lessons of Ramadan is self-control, discipline, and patience.

Learning to show patience with the small factors in our life such as eating and drinking, helps us train our minds to instantly refrain from acting quickly in situations.

Whether it is reacting in anger, backbiting, or cursing. Having patience when in lack of control or when dealing with certain situations whilst maintain self-control is Ramadan’s most valuable lesson.

Reflecting how impatient us as humans can be with our smallest needs like food, is a substantial concept to think about.

It is the time we break our fast, a tsunset, that you feel the happiest. We start off with dates, which you feel gives you an instant rise of blood sugar and raises your energy.

We begin with some soup and water or juice. You feel the fluid running down your system and nourishing different parts within you.

Not only do we abstain from food and drink during this holy month, but we also abstain from any actions and statements that may harm other people, as stated by Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him): "When any one of you gets up in the morning in the state of fasting, he should neither use obscene language nor do any act of ignorance. And if anyone slanders him or quarrels with him, he should say: 'I am fasting, I am fasting.'"

As the month goes by and the days flow, the tiredness of fasting disappears, and you no longer feel weak. We tend to start to feel more concentrated and you notice an improvement in your overall  cognitive and physical fitness.

Ramadan comes in with a change of routine for all of us. It changes our body’s normal cycle and gives as a change to our day-to-day activities, making us patiently wait for Eid.