A convert’s quick guide to Ramadan – part 1: fasting. If you’re a revert and looking for a little guidance to help you get through Ramadan, Jessica is here to help. Keep tuned for this three-part series to assist you!
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A Convert’s Quick Guide to Ramadan
Part 1: Fasting
“Not even water?” is easily the most common Ramadan question recent converts and non-Muslims ask. It might seem daunting to avoid food and water from sun-up to sundown (especially if you’ve never fasted before), but by following these simple tips, insha Allah (God willing), you will have an enjoyable and spiritually-rich Ramadan experience.
When do I Start?
Fasting starts when the time of Fajr (the dawn prayer) begins. If you are unsure when the prayer time begins, check with your local mosque or use a prayer app.
No food or drink should be consumed after the Fajr adhan (morning call to prayer). I try to give myself at least 20 minutes in the morning to prepare food and to eat my meal. Once you get started, you will see what works for you.
Remember, if you do not wake up to eat, then you shouldn’t have any food or drink until Maghrib (the sunset prayer). If this is your first time fasting, then this could be very difficult for you, so it is strongly advised that you wake up to eat the early meal, called suhoor or sehri.
Foods to Eat
For many converts, this is the first time we have fasted without food or drink for an extended period of time. It’s important that you choose foods that will both hydrate and energize you. Fruits and vegetables are hydrating and nutrient rich foods that will provide you with a healthy start to your fast. Like these suhoor drinks. It is also sunnah (a custom of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) to have dates and water. Personally, I’ve found that eating a date at suhoor (early meal) helps me feel fuller longer and minimizes my afternoon headache. Lastly, make sure to add protein to your meal. Some simple options are eggs, milk with your cereal, cheese, or yogurt. Try to keep your suhoor (early meal) simple, so you are able to maintain the good habits for 30 days.
Foods to Avoid
Generally speaking, the less fried and sugary foods you eat the better. These can dehydrate you and make you feel hungrier sooner in the day. Also, caffeine should be limited. As a regular coffee drinker, I try to reduce my coffee intake prior to Ramadan. I still have a cup in the morning, but try to be mindful of what I’m eating and the amount of water I’m drinking so as not to become dehydrated. Others will detox from coffee a week before, or switch to drinking coffee at night. Be mindful of coffee headache withdrawal. If you stop drinking coffee at least a week before Ramadan, then you can take aspirin to relieve your headaches.
The fast ends when the sun sets, or at the time of Maghrib (sunset) prayer. It is sunnah (recommended) to break your fast with dates and some water. The dates help your body to digest food more easily after a long day of fasting. Then, it’s also sunnah (recommended) to pray Maghrib (sunset prayer) before iftar (the meal in which we break fast). However, you can eat first if that is easier for you. Remember to continue to drink water throughout the evening to prepare your body for the next day of fasting.
Jessica Daqamsseh is a published poet, writer and educator from North Carolina. To learn more about her work, please visit www.jessicadaqamsseh.com or follow her on IG @j.daqamsseh.