Time flies so fast that suddenly it is March and Ramadan is coming! InshAllah, this most awaited celebratory moment for Muslims will start from April 12, 2021, in Singapore time. Ramadan is the most heart-warming moment where Muslims abstain themselves from pleasures by fasting. Known for its benefits, fasting actually can be done by anyone including Non-Muslims.
I know most of you must have heard or read about numerous benefits of fasting, such as weight loss for example. Since we have to stay home most of the time during this pandemic, perhaps most of us feel a little bit down, gained some weight, and might even feel less energetic. Well, maybe this can be the answer for you to attain a healthier and fit physique and mind. Furthermore, you can even get closer to your Muslim friends and showing some support by trying out and understanding what they have been doing every year during Ramadan!
Here's the Ramadan Fasting 101 guide, all you need to know on Fasting with your Muslim Friends this Ramadan 2021:
Ramadan is the biggest celebration for Muslims. It is the holiest month where Muslims focus on spirituality, self-reflection, endure Sabr or patience, and self-improvement which anyone with different belief systems could also consider trying. Ramadan is celebrated as the ninth month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar.
In this holiest month, Muslims are obliged to abstain from food and drink from dawn (sahur) to dusk (iftar) for 29 to 30 days as it is one of the five pillars of Islam. Other than that, while fasting, Muslims must avoid sinful behaviors, such as lying, swearing, fighting, arguing, smoking, and lust. In Ramadan, Muslims gather and perform a compulsory nightly prayer called Tarawih. Muslims are also encouraged to perform a charity called Zakat and read or recite all 30 sections of Al-Qur’an.
The name of Ramadan was taken from the Arabic term called “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat. Muslims celebrate Ramadan for the revelation of the Quran, to Prophet Muhammad.
When fasting, Muslims have to get up early to prepare Sahur, which is a pre-fasting meal. Muslims usually prepare and eat Sahur between 4.00 or 5.00 AM in the morning and then do a morning prayer called Salah Subh.
It might seem really hard but waking up early in the morning might be a solution to improve your daily routine because your body’s internal clock will adapt to your new sleep routine. Apart from being able to watch the sunrise and relax, you will also have plenty of time to set your daily schedule and do morning stretches or light exercises. In this way, a fresher and healthier mind and body are possible to attain.
Dr. Otto Buchinger, a German physician, proved that fasting can not only detoxify and cleanse our body's toxins but if done regularly can also cure diseases in our body. Otto Buchinger himself had proven that with a routine of fasting, his rheumatic disease gradually healed. Other than that, based on his research, fasting cures many illnesses, such as: eating behavior disturbance, allergies, tension and migraine headaches, cardiovascular disease, chronic digestive system diseases, glaucoma, and also skin diseases.
Fasting may be difficult in the first few days but because we control the timing and portion of our food intake, our body will adjust it so it becomes a habit. Not only that our bodies can get fitter, but also, we will have more energy.
In Islamic teachings, there is something called taqwa, which means self-restraint or God-fearing nature. Taqwa is a state where we are fully aware and in control of what we say, do, and think. When fasting, we are challenged to be persistent and take complete control over our bodies, or simply to be present because we abstain from food, drink, and other sinful behavior from dawn till dusk. Whether you are surrounded by people eating their mouth-watering meals or drinking their cold water, it will not be a problem for those who are in that state.
While fasting, we begin to develop the ability to be fully aware of our bodies, thoughts and prevent ourselves from doing negative habits such as smoking for example. Therefore, being taqwa can definitely improve our mind, mental health, withdraw from any addiction and elevate our spiritual abilities. As written in the Holy Qur’an:
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo kutiba AAalaykumu alssiyamu kama kutiba AAala allatheena min qablikum laAAallakum tattaqoona
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous”
(Surat Al-Baqarah [2:183-189])
One of the reasons Muslims fast is to teach children or younger generations about gratitude. When fasting, Muslims endure hunger and thirst for about eleven hours which is not easy for children. They patiently waiting to break the fast. Therefore, children can learn that patience has its rewards.
To create a warm and cheerful atmosphere for the children, Muslim parents usually prepare delicious and healthy food for their children, especially when breaking the fast. Meals that are mutually agreed upon, from appetizers, main meals to desserts are prepared on the table. Before eating, we pray and be grateful for the food on the table.
In that way, we can learn to be grateful for whatever food is on the table and simply not to overeat or even waste any food.
During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to do a charity called Zakat or Sadaqah. While Zakat is an obligatory practice and one of the five pillars of Islam, Sadaqah is voluntary. Muslims make use this time as an opportunity to foster a sense of sympathy and empathy for those in need by engaging in charity as a solid action. Zakat or even Sadaqah can lift up the suffering of millions around us. Doing zakat which means 'to cleanse,' is believed to be able to purify, increase and bless one's wealth.
Maybe you can also try to help those who are in need simply by doing a voluntary charity or just by helping out your friends. Because we also believe that good things will return to those who did.
Fasting should not prevent your adequate water intake. You must make sure to drink 2 liters of water, which is the same as 8-12 glasses per day.
Consume a Balanced Diet:
Your body needs energy and you must never skip Sahur! Consume enough food high in fiber like rice, oats, or bread in sahur which could also be replaced with root veggies like sweet potato. They will provide the body with a good source of energy. However, make sure to add some protein, veggies, and fruit. For example Kaya Toast, Soft Boiled Eggs, and Milk Tea.
Similar to sahur, a good iftar meal requires fiber, protein, veggies, and fruits. Moreover, it is suggested that one needs to break the fast with food or drink containing some natural sugars for energy. For example Dates, Bubur Lambuk Ayam/Sapi (Chicken/Beef Spiced Rice Porridge), and Ice Kachang.
Watch Your Food Portion:
Hold your urge to eat too much when breaking your fast, especially carbs. When it is time to break the fast, we might feel like we could eat a whole cow but we actually just need 85 grams of beef steak. Moreover, you should treat your stomach with caution and take the meal light meal first. Trust me, breaking your fast by eating too much and in a hurry, can make your stomach upset, really upset.
Stay Physically Active:
When fasting, it does not mean you can spend time sleeping around and lying down. Our bodies need to remain physically active, simply by walking or exercising lightly before eating sahur or the pre-dawn meal.
Don't Fast When You are Feeling Unwell:
For those of you who have COVID-19, acute or chronic disease like diabetes, it is advised to avoid fasting as it may interfere with the healing process and affects blood sugar levels. Do consider consult this with your dietitian.
Don’t Fast When You are on Your Period:
During menstruation, the body loses iron and triggers anemia. Some women also experience stomach cramps and back pain while menstruating. Therefore, it is best to avoid fasting while menstruating.
Don’t Fast While Travelling Far:
Traveling long distances requires a lot of energy, therefore, it is best to avoid fasting. Even for Muslims, it is explained that Allah does not desire to make things difficult for Muslims. What Allah desire is for Muslims to do their fast easily.
Don’t Fast When You are Pregnant:
Fasting can be very risky for pregnant women. Pregnant women should avoid fasting, especially those who are in the second trimester to reduce the risk of preterm labor.
Now, are you ready to fast with your Muslim friends this Ramadan 2021? Download the HalalTrip App for free for more Ramadan tips!