It doesn’t matter if you’re a city slicker with a high stress job and a long commute or a stay at home mum with a menagerie of kids to manage, you can get into Ramadan mode and reap the benefits of this month too.
Ramadan presents a great opportunity to regulate our lives. The best benefit that can be derived from Ramadan is to carry the lessons learned from it — moderation and discipline — to the year that follows.
Get ready for it
Shape up your soul: Prepare yourself spiritually by fasting on last days of Sha’ban. Wake up earlier than usual even half an hour before Fajr (dawn prayer) and pray. Read the Quran after Fajr even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. Stock up on interesting Islamic lectures that you can listen to during the day or on your way to work. If you’re cooking or waiting in a line or have some free time, remembrance God and say His name.
Detox your body: Stifle the urge to munch snacks at odd moments or when you’re bored. Drink lots of water, and avoid endless cups of coffee and tea. Start with a complex carbohydrate breakfast that releases energy slowly and allows you to stay energized through the day. Have a light meal at the end of day with lots of fruit, vegetables, live culture yogurt and salad.
Free your mind: Get rid of all those exotoxins that are generated by daily stress and the anxiety hormones produced by thinking about daily life and read an interesting Islamic book instead.
Get prepared: Do what it takes to keep you organized in Ramadan. Shop for groceries in advance, prepare large batches of food and freeze them, chop vegetables and store them in airtight containers.
Wake up during Fajr to eat the pre-dawn meal and stay up to read a portion of the Quran before and after Fajr.
Try and get a little shut-eye in the day. Even a half hour nap will leave you feeling refreshed.
Be nice: A major aspect of Ramadan is being charitable to others and controlling oneself, count to 10 if you’re having a hard day. If someone’s out to give you a bad time, just be patient.
Be generous: It doesn’t matter if it’s a smile to a co-worker or a hundred pounds to a homeless derelict; it’s the season to give money to charity not to mention the Prophet’s traditions about that.
Don’t overeat: Start with dates and something liquid (water, juice, milk, a soup, a smoothie) and eat sparingly of the spread. Save your main meal for later in the night. If you’re cooking iftar (evening meal), bake and broil instead of frying.
Drink up: To combat dehydration, drink lots of water between iftar and Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) — try having at least two glasses of water at a go. Keep off fizzy drinks and opt for herbal teas or unsweetened juices.
Attend and organize community: Don’t forget to invite people who tend to get overlooked. Focus on ‘connecting’ with others in the community and discovering common ground, instead of ‘networking’.
Save some quality time with Allah: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by life and forget that this month is essentially about renewing one’s personal connection with God. The Quran says “When you are free from your affairs, then turn to your Lord.” Wake up in the night and pray as much as is easy for you.
Seek the Night of Power (or the Night of Value and Virtue): There is a night in Ramadan that is considered better than 1000 months, by virtue of the blessings that descend in it. Seek the Night of Power in the last thirteen nights of the month.
Make arrangements to give Zakaat al-Fitr on time. This can be done any time before the ‘Eid prayer.