Ramadan is a deeply spiritual time of year for Muslims, full of worship and worship. There is no doubt that from a spiritual perspective, Ramadan brings with it great ease, blessings and peace of mind.
But fasting for long periods of time (up to 20 hours per day in some parts of the world) can take some adjusting for the body. Many communities have traditions of luxurious iftars and heavy meals, which can also take its toll on our bodies, leaving us feeling bloated and lethargic.
This year, with coronavirus still affecting Muslims in all corners of the world, it is more important than ever to take care of your body to stay healthy and make the most of the holy month.
Food – the power of eating right
The food we eat can help us maintain a good immune system and stay healthy. During Ramadan, make an effort to maintain a balanced diet comprising of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals.
To keep up your strength whilst fasting, eat slow-release carbohydrates such as oats, wholegrain rice and wholemeal bread. These are particularly good food options for suhur and will help to keep you full and energised throughout the day.
Revive the sunnah with your meals
During iftar and suhur, forget to include some of the sunnah food and drink into your diet including water, dates, honey and milk.
Dates contain many nutrients and health benefits including reducing blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and colon cancer and relieving constipation. Dates are a great source of slow-release energy – keeping you going for longer. Perhaps you could first open your fast with a few dates and a glass of milk or water before taking a break to pray.
Hold the salt, and other things to avoid
Be mindful of how much salt you use while cooking during Ramadan, as too much sodium can lead to bloating, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and heavy in the evenings while you pray.
During suhur, avoid caffeine, which can cause dehydration. Consider replacing your tea and coffee with decaf options or milk and fresh juice.
It is important to drink plenty of water, and eat foods that have a high water content such as watermelon.
Let’s keep moving
It is important to keep moving while fasting, especially as restricted activity at the moment means that we are all spending more time at home. Exercise has great health benefits and can be done without putting too much strain on your body.
It’s sensible to build up your levels of exercise gradually throughout the month. A brisk walk around your area before iftar – keeping a safe distance from others – might be a good idea. You could even tie this into listening to Qur’an or to an Islamic talk if you want to be really productive!
Among your friends and family, you could set a challenge of walking a certain number of steps collectively, or doing a home workout video online at the same time, forming a group activity and holding each other to account. This is also a great way to stay connected during this time of distance.
Seek advice if you are unwell
The Qur’an states, “Whoever is ill or on a journey, then the prescribed period should be made up by days later. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (Qur’an, 2:184-5).
Consult a local scholar if you are unsure about whether or not you are exempt from fasting but as a general guide you may be excused if you reasonably fear that the act of fasting will increase your sickness or slow your recovery. If you’re unable to fast due to illness, you must make up these fasts when you are fully recovered.
Allah has also accounted for those with longer-term health conditions who are not able to make up missed fasts by requiring that they pay fidya, which is money given to the poor for each fast missed in Ramadan. The amount to pay is the local value of 2kg of wheat per missed fast. Calculate and pay your fidya here.
Please support our Ramadan Appeal. Your generosity will help us come together as one and help save lives. Read more about Ramadan 2021 with Islamic Relief here.