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12 June 2016

The Ultimate Ramadan Survival Guide

Muslim Hands
The Ultimate Ramadan Survival Guide

As Ramadan only comes around once a year, it’s natural that we might be feeling a bit rusty on the Do’s and Don’ts, the terminology used, and generally on how to get the best out of this blessed month. Have no fear! We've compiled the ultimate Ramadan survival guide to help you get the most out of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

Terminology

Here are common terms you’re going to hear during this month:

Sawm - Fast

Iftar - Opening of the fast immediately after sunset. Iftar takes place at Maghrib time

Sadaqah - Voluntary charity

Zakat - Obligatory charity

Kaffarah - The compensation you should pay in the form of money or the duty to fast for 60 consecutive days if you deliberately miss or break a fast in the month of Ramadan without a valid reason

Fidya - When someone is unable to fast due to ill health, old age or pregnancy, they should make a payment for someone else to be fed in substitution

I'tikaf - When you spend the last ten days of Ramadan (either wholly or partly) in a mosque, devoting yourself exclusively to acts of worship

Laylatul-Qadr - This is The Night of Power, concealed in one of the odd nights in the last ten days of Ramadan. The Qur'an describes this night as 'better than a thousand months' (97:3).

Eid Al-Fitr - This is the festival marking the end of Ramadan.

Taraweeh - Night prayers during Ramadan. Classified as part of qiyamul layl.
The Qiyamul layl during Ramadan is called Taraaweeh because the Salaf used to rest (istaraahu) after every two or four rak’ahs as they lengthened their prayers in order to make the most of this period of great reward.

Qiyamul-layl - Spending the night, or part of it (even if it is only one hour), in prayer, reading Qur’an, remembering Allah (dhikr) and partaking in other acts of worship. It is not stipulated that it should take up most of the night.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO

  • Fast if you're healthy and of sound mind
  • Plan ahead
  • Make sure you keep hydrated
  • Keep motivated
  • Keep fit
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Break bad habits
  • Eat in moderation

DON’T

  • Waste time
  • Eat too much
  • Neglect worship
  • Make Ramadan all about food

Tips for different types of people during Ramadan

For a lot of people, Ramadan might seem intimidating as they feel they have to put their lives on standby in order to commit to this month. This doesn’t have to be the case. Below are a few suggestions on how to implement your hobbies into your worship.

The Bookworm

This is for all the readers out there who spend a lot of their time with their head buried in a good book. Why not read something beneficial this Ramadan? It may not be your average fiction, but how about delving into the lives of the prophets? There are great lessons and captivating plots in their real life history with twist and turns that will put any thriller to shame, and what makes them better than the average book is that they are true stories. This way you can be spending your time enjoying your hobby whilst also broadening your knowledge of Islam.

The Social Butterfly

For the one who is always active, the one who can never stay at home for too long without getting withdrawal from a lack of fresh air - don’t let Ramadan deter you in keeping active! How about trying out volunteering? There's always lots of people to meet and plenty of work to be done. This should pacify your cravings for the outdoors while racking up the rewards of Ramadan.

The Procrastinator 

This is a tricky one. How does a procrastinator stop procrastinating? Well you’re just going to have to dive into the deep end with this one. Delaying things has become a skill of professional level to the everyday procrastinator. We all know one, and some of us have to guiltily admit to probably being one. This Ramadan don’t delay your worship. How about handling some responsibility during Ramadan? Now we don’t mean being the admin of your WhatsApp group chat, but maybe try something a little more substantial? Why don’t you organise weekly gatherings where your friends or family can share reminders and tips they have learnt? Having leadership over these gatherings will ensure your participation and that your time is being spent efficiently during this blessed month.

Keeping Your Energy Up

The first step to keeping your energy up would be to pre-plan ahead of this month.

Once you have set your goals and what you hope to achieve you will have a rough idea on how much energy you would need to fulfil your plans.

For example, if you know that you want to pray the Tahajjud prayer you will have to keep hydrated and not exert yourself too much during the day. If you plan your whole month this way you are sure to achieve all the goals, you have set insha’Allah.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated will help you to fight off that lethargic feeling and also help you to stay more alert. It is encouraged to drink eight glasses of water a day, but with fasting the long daylight hours this would be tricky to implement. Here's a rough guide on how to drink enough water after you break your fast. You can adjust these times as the month progresses.

9:15 PM         Break your fast with 10 ounces of water before praying Maghrib

9:40 PM         Drink 10 oz. of water after prayer with your meal

11:00 PM       Drink 10 oz. of water before praying Isha

11:30 PM       Drink 10 oz. of water before praying Taraweeh

11:50 PM       Drink 10 oz. during the Taraweeh break

12:30 PM       Drink 10 oz. after Taraweeh before going to bed

2:30 AM         Drink 10 oz. right before Fajr starts

If this is difficult, try these hydrating food sources:

Squash - Most varieties of squash are water dense. Courgettes are 97% water, whilst butternut and summer squash are both made up of 94% water.
Aubergine - Made up of 92% water, this dark purple veggie is also rich in vitamin B, potassium, copper, manganese, folic acid, tryptophan and phenolic antioxidant compounds.
Strawberries - With 91% percent of each strawberry made up of water, this fruit is a good option to keep hydrated. Red, sweet and juicy, strawberries are packed full of vitamins A, B and C, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and dietary fibre. Whats more, strawberries add a refreshing, sweet taste to any meal or dessert. Blend them with other fruits for a thirst-quenching fruit salad, smoothie or sorbet.

Keep Good Company /Motivation

Motivation starts with good company. If you’re experiencing difficulty in finding good friends, you can choose those places where you are likely to be amongst pious people of knowledge and those conscious of Allah. Join circles where you can befriend good companions.

If you haven’t managed to find good companions, you can work on your own friendships. Doing worship together can bring you closer to Allah and in turn bring blessing to your friendship. Here are a few things you can do together:

Fajr Train

This is something that some members of Muslim hands have tried to great success! This is aimed at those people that struggle to wake up for Fajr. It can also work for the Tahajjud prayers.

With a couple of your friends choose one member that has no difficulty in waking up for this early prayer. When that person wakes up they should call one friend to make sure that they make the prayer. This friend in turn calls the next friend and this keeps going until the last friend calls the first friend to confirm that everybody has woken up to pray. This particular exercise will ensure you don’t miss the Fajr prayer, while strengthening your bond and increasing your love for each other for the sake of Allah.

Qur’an Swap

With your group of friends, you can gift each other a small Qur'an to take everywhere you go. When each friend reads from this Qur'an, both the reader and the friend who gifted it are rewarded. This will encourage you and your friends to read this beautiful book as you love for your brothers and sisters what you love for yourself. The nagging from your friend to increase their reward does help too! If you don't want to buy a new Qur'an, how about simply swapping the copies you already own with the same intention?

Accountability Partner

Partnering up this Ramadan might provide that extra push that you need. Following up on the Qur’an swap, you can have that same partner make sure you’re doing the things you have to do like your obligatory prayers as well as encouraging you to go that extra mile. It might even lead to a little healthy competition to keep things interesting during this month.  It will also ensure that nobody falls behind in their worship.

Skincare

Ramadan has a lot of benefits, but the sudden change in routine does take a toll on our bodies.

The timing of this Ramadan is going to hit us at the peak of the summer, and so we could be fasting during a heatwave. We usually get a lot of advice on how to take care of our bodies on the inside, but we fall short on taking care of our bodies on the outside. Below are a few tips on how to take care of you skin this Ramadan:

1. Hydration - Stay hydrated. How your body is feeling on the inside will reflect on how your body will look on the outside.

2. Stay away from sodas and caffeinated drinks: - The trick to taking care of your skin in Ramadan is to avoid certain foods and drinks. Caffeine and fizzy drinks are known to suck out the minerals in the body, which has a negative effect on your skin. Stick to water and healthier options like milk, natural fruit drinks/smoothies etc.

3. Aim for the shade - This is incredibly important during summer. If you are running errands, try to avoid the sun and walk in the shade whenever you can - and of course apply sunscreen to your skin before you head out. No matter what skin tone you are you still need protection from the sun's rays!

4. Load up on nuts - The perfect thing to snack on during the night to take care of your skin is nuts. Eating cashews and almonds can really rejuvenate your skin as they contain large quantities of fibre and fatty acids. Nuts make a tasty light post-iftar snack. 

5. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! - Don’t neglect your skin this Ramadan. Wash your face with lukewarm water and moisturise afterwards. Your skin needs plenty of case it has probably lost a lot of its moisture due to a lack of hydration.

6. Rest - Make sure you get plenty of rest to rejuvenate your skin and keep up your energy levels.

Food

The first tip when it comes to food is to eat in moderation. This will help you avoid bloating and the inevitable food coma from overeating.

  • Avoid salty, greasy meals and junk food so you don’t get dehydrated the next day.
  • Eat carbs as it turns into sugar slowly and will also give you energy for the next morning.
  • Eating yoghurt and drinking milk will keep your throat from becoming dry the next day.

Have a look at our Sunnah Recipes to try something new and join our competition. 

Renew Your Intentions

After the first week or two of Ramadan, we slowly start losing momentum as we feel we’ve done 'enough'. We must remember that any worship that we do would not have been possible without Allah’s mercy and guidance. When it gets to this point, renew your intentions and continue Ramadan the same way you started - with determination and willingness.

Revisit the goals you set - are you on your way to reaching them? It’s not too late to catch up if you fell behind. Take a deep breath, make plenty of du’a and carry on up to the finish line!

We hope this survival guide proves useful to you this Ramadan and we pray that you get the most out of this blessed holy month this year. Embrace the spirit of this special month and try and be positive and count your blessings. It will make the month go a lot more smoothly insha'Allah!


Muslim Hands UK

Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an aid agency and NGO helping those affected by poverty, conflict and natural disaster in over 20 countries worldwide.