If you've not made use of the first half of Ramadan; its never too late to make use of the other half and make the most of seeking forgiveness and helping others. Positivity takes you a long way in sha Allah.
Ramadan is a great opportunity for Muslims to improve their character and increase in good action and to be grateful. For Allah subhanahu wa taala said in Quran [2:185]:
"(He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must glorify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him"
It is important to initiate Ramadan by making the intention (Niyyah) to fast. For Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
“There is no fast for the person who did not intend to fast from the night before.”
[Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 2454. A number of the scholars, such as al-Bukhaari, al-Nisaa'i, al-Tirmidhi and others thought it was likely to be mawqoof. See Talkhees al-Hubayr, 2/188]
The next manner for fasting is to consume pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) as it is full of blessings. There is plenty evidence in the Sunnah. Amongst them are as follows:
Amr ibn Al-As radia allahu anhu narrated that Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the book [Jews and Christians] is the taking of Suhoor".
Salman radia allahu anhu reported that the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"Blessing is in three : The Jama`a [the congregation of the Muslims], The Thareed [a broth of (crumbled) bread and meat] and the Suhoor".
[Tabarani and Abu Nu`aim; Hasan]
Abu Said al-Khudri radia allahu anhu said that reported that The Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"The Suhoor is a meal of blessings, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes a gulp of water, since Allah sends mercy and His angels seek forgiveness for those who take Suhoor".
[Ahmad and Ibn Abi Shaibah]
So what can we eat in Suhoor? Amongst the food Allah has bestowed on us are dates. As the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"How excellent are dates as the believer's Suhoor".
[Abu Dawood, Ibn Hibban and al-Baihaqee; Sahih]
Moreover, our character my dear brothers and sisters, each of us are in need of polishing our character. It is like the yeast that makes the bread. It is like the water that allows the fish to survive. What is worship and fasting without improving our character? The Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
“Fasting is a shield – one who fasts does not use obscenities or act in an ignorant manner. If someone argues with you or insults you, say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting’.”
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1795)]
Amongst the ways in which we can improve our character is to have manners and respect for the old, young and for all faiths and we should also need to be modest. An important trait that we need to strive to improve is to restrain from anger and Ramadan is an excellent chance to develop clemency. For the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"Fasting is not [abstaining] from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: "I am fasting, I am fasting."
[Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim; Sahih].
The Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah Mighty and Majestic has no need [i.e. will not accept] that he should leave his food and drink".
Another manner in which we should approach Ramadan and beyond is genorosity. Ibn Abbas radia allahu anhu said that the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
"The Prophet was the most generous of people, but he would be his most generous during Ramadan when he would meet with [the angel] Jibreel (Gabriel). He would meet with him every night and recite the Qur'an. When Jibreel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind."
So how can we generous during Ramadan... hmm well here are some ideas, visiting the old people’s homes, feeding the poor, giving food to a fasting person:
"He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting person's reward".
[Ahmad, al-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban; Sahih]
In addition another manner we as Muslims can adapt when we fast is by using the Miswak (tooth stick)
Abu Huraira radia allahu anhu narrated that the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
'But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution."
Furthermore, when we fast, the manner in which we should break our fast is by making supplications: The Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam used to recite the following duas to his guests:
‘Allahuma aghfir lahum wa irhamhum wa barik lahum fi ma razaqtahum’ ‘O Allah forgive them, have mercy upon them and place bless what You provided for them.’
‘Allahuma at3im man at3amani, wasqi man saqani’ ‘O Allah fees the one who feed me, and give drink to the one who gave me drink.’
‘Akala t3amakumul abrar, wa salat 3laykuma al mala-ika, wa aftar 3ndakuma sa-emoon’ ‘May the righteous eat you food, may the angel seek forgiveness for you and may those who fast break the fast with you.’
[Ahmad, an-Nasa'i and others]
So when can we break our fast. The manner in which the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam approached this was to break it when the sun has set.
Abu Darda radia allahu anhu said: "Three things are from the manners of the Prophets: Hastening in breaking the fast, delaying the Suhoor, and placing the right hand upon the left in prayer".
What did the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam break his fast with?
Anas radia allahu anhu narrated that Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If not available, he would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water."
[Abu Dawud, al-Hakim and at-Tirmithi, / Sahih al-Jami`]
Anas radia allahu anhu narrated that the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said: "If the food is already presented, eat before the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste."
[al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Furthermore, one of the major aspects of Ramadan is the Night Prayer. The feeling of the sounds of the wind and the observation of the stars in the night shining brightly on the way to the masjid. The Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam advised us to perform the night prayers with good intention.
Abu Huraira radia allahu anhu reported that the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam: "Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.
What manner did the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam and his companions radia allahu anhu pray the night prayers?
Jaabir Ibn Abdilah radia allahu said: "When the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam led the people in prayer, during the night of Ramadan, he prayed eight Rak`ah and the Witr".
[Ibn Hibban and Tabarani; Hasan]
Abu Salma bin 'Abdur Rahman radia allahu said: I asked 'Aisha, "How is the prayer of Allah's Apostle during the month of Ramadan." She said, "Allah's Apostle never exceeded eleven Rakat in Ramadan or in other months; he used to offer four Rakat-- do not ask me about their beauty and length, then four Rakat, do not ask me about their beauty and length, and then three Rakat." Aisha further said, "I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Do you sleep before offering the Witr prayer?' He replied, 'O 'Aisha! My eyes sleep but my heart remains awake'!"
I recommend this book The Night Prayers Qiyam & Taraweeh By Dr. Mohammad al-Jibaly that can be brought from here https://www.mijbookstore.com/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=2471
May Allah bless you all!
Ramadan is a time where we not only focus on thinking about the poor, improving our character and spiritual aspects but also to control ourselves and manage our health and well-being. Many people assume that fasting is a great opportunity to ‘lose weight’. With all respects it can to an extent where you are able to burn the fat that is in your body to produce energy and lower the levels of cholesterol.
Other advantages of fasting are the following:
a) To dissolve and remove toxins that are stored in fat. Amongst the toxins dissolved is mucus who plays a major role in reducing immunity. So by dissolving mucus when we fast; it aids in increasing the immune system to combat many diseases.
b) Lowering of the blood pressure
c) Controlling our diabetes better.
d) Improve aging and can act as a healing agent. The body makes Human Growth Hormone which is synthesized by the pituitary glands. The hormone is needed for growth and development so when we fast; the hormone is produced more and aids in improving our skin. When the energy is being used, dead cells, tissues, tumour cells are excreted from our body.
So what happens when we fast?
Glucose is a sugar (monosaccharide) that is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver which is the body’s main source for energy. When fasting; this storage is used up to provide energy. After when the glucose is used up; fat is then used as the next source of energy for the body. However; when you continuously fast for many days non-stop; the muscle protein is then used for energy; which is why those that undergo prolonged fasting look thin and are weak. Subhanallah!
However; when we look at the concept of fasting during Ramadhan; we won’t reach this stage as our fasting is broken on a daily basis and lasts from dawn to dusk; so the energy we need for our body has been re-fuelled from meals eaten before dawn and at dusk. You see the wisdom behind Allah’s commands! Alhamdulilah
What are the seven types of food?
Macronutrients is needed in large amounts (carbohydrates, proteins, water, fats and fibre).Micronutrients is needed in small amounts (water, minerals).
How can I keep fit?
1) Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is one of the ways where one can know how to maintain a healthy weight.
BMI = (Weight/Height) x Height.
· Underweight = 18.5
· Normal weight = 18.6-24.9
· Overweight = 25-29.9
· Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
2) Eating the right amount of food and drink water.
a) It is essential that the food we eat is simple and contain the necessary carbohydrates, proteins and fats to replace the lost energy.
b) It is vital to drink lots of water. The kidneys try to maintain water and mineral salts such as potassium and sodium needed for the body but can be lost via sweating, breathing and excretion of urine. Drinking water also helps to prevent headaches and dehydrations.
c) Try drinking milk! Did you know it contains 80-90% water?
d) Consume fruits and vegetables.
e) Space out the meals to aid in digesting food.
f) *AVOID* drinking fizzy drinks with high sugar content as it is not healthy to throw a large amount of sugar into your body all at once when you have used up the glucose from the body.
g) *AVOID* drinking diuretics such as tea and coffee as it cause dehydration.
h) *AVOID* eating frying or oily food such as chips, pakora, somasa, bhajis on a daily basis.
For Suhoor (pre-dawn meal); it is best to eat food that slowly release energy for example grains such as rice, flour, oats, barley, wheat and cornmeal etc.
Here is a suggested Suhoor plan
A glass of milk/water
Tuna salad, egg salad, cereal
Here is a suggested iftar plan:
Smoothie (fresh fruit with water/ fresh fruit with milk)
Dinner: rice or pasta chicken/fish/meat
3. Light exercise
A 15 minute walk after Fajr and after Iftar is great.
If you do lifting; *AVOID* doing TOO much lift training. An ideal time to lift would be an hour before iftar; that way when you break your fast; it will aid in recovery.
Examples of exercise you can do are squats, bench press, deadlifts during Ramadan.
4. Small naps/sleep
Common medical situations and possible solutions to resolve them.
Headaches can occur due to worry, not resting a lot, hunger, dehydration, exposure to sunlight and other reasons.
To reduce the risk of getting headaches:
a) Having a balanced diet is essential.
b) Drink lots of water.
c) Having medications such as Paracetamol can also help.
d) If the weather is hot; stay in the shade, wearing hat, sunglasses, would be a good idea.
e) If the headaches is persistent then it is best to visit your G.P.
The purpose of the acid’s presence is to aid in digestion (breakdown) of food. The stomach is naturally protected from the acidic environment via sphincters (doors that opens and closes to control the amount of food entering the stomach called and leaving the stomach) and digestive juices. The sphincter that links the food pipe (oesophagus) with the stomach is called the lower oesophageal sphincter and when the hydrochloric acid levels are high in the stomach this causes this sphincter to weaken and this is where you will feel the heartburn.
Fasting lowers the amount of hydrochloric acid made in the stomach; however when we think about the food; it causes the production of more hydrochloric acid. Thus it is important that those who experience heartburn are normally on medications that are taken regularly and should be taken during suhoor to avoid experiencing it when fasting. Examples of medications include the popular antacid called Gaviscon, other examples are proton pump inhibitors such as Zoton and antihistamines such as Zantac. Peppermint oil is another example as it can relax the smooth muscles of the bowel. Another way in avoiding heartburn is to lower the amount of greasy and spicy food.
This normally occurs as a result of loss of water via excreting urine, sweat and also breathing. It can be severe and be linked to cramps, dizzy, lethargy (tiredness) and even fainting. Thus it is important to drink a lot before fasting and after breaking the fast. It will also help if you are prescribed diuretics.
Those who have their Diabetes under control should seek their GP before Ramadan to discuss treatment plans. Those who inject insulin should not be fasting. All Diabetics should self-monitor their blood glucose levels regularly. Having low levels of glucose in the body can result in sweating, fainting and dizziness and if this occurs; ensure to drink a high sugar content drink.
It is not essential to fast whilst pregnant. Some research suggests that it is not advisable for a pregnant woman to fast. However, during the early pregnancy, if the pregnant woman feel that she is fit to fast she can proceed. The Shariah law states if she is not fit to fast then she can make up the fasts later on. If she is unable to fast, then she can perform fidyah which is to give a poor person food or give the value of the meals.
During Suhoor and after when breaking the fast, ensure that you eat fruits, vegetables and drink lots of water. What also helps is to eat food that has fibre. This will aid in bowel movement which will help break down food. If this problem still occurs; ask the GP to prescribe you with laxatives.
Fasting can also lead to overweight when consuming large amounts of food without discipline. Thus it is important to eat within proportions.
8) Having high or low blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is under control you can fast in sha Allah. I think you should also visit your GP prior Ramadan as they may want to change your medications that you take currently; so that you can take them at pre-dawn meal or after breaking your fast to help control blood pressure whilst fasting. Consuming lots of water also helps.
Try to make yourself busy by reciting Quran and not staying too long in the sun.
In sha Allah I will try to wrap up the article by mentioning that please ensure that you look after your health and well-being during Ramadan and beyond. If you are unable to fast due to not feeling well then do not put yourself in tahluka meaning in problem as Allah subhanahu wa taala says:
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. [2:184]
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