As Salaamu Alaykunna.
I wanted to share with my new sisters to the beautiful religion of Islam, some easy ways to get through the Blessed Month of Ramadaan. Whether you are young or older the concept of not eating and drinking for 10-14 hours sounds really hard. Speaking from experience, I felt the same way some 17 years ago when I became a Muslim. “I can’t eat? Can I chew gum? Can I drink water?” And it was no to all of those questions, MashaaAllah.
So my next concern, being a new Muslim is what do as a fasting person. Ok I can’t eat or drink, sexual intercourse wasn’t my concern because I wasn’t married. Of course, I read up on the fasting but Ramadaan was almost over that 1st year I started to fast. I brought a set of Sahih Al-Bukhari my 1st year of being a Muslim. I was told to stay away from the smaller books due to the false information that may be in them about Islam. That 1st year was hard but the week of Ramadaan I was doing OK, not good but OK.
The next 2 years, I spent reading out of Sahih Al-Bukhari and the Qur’aan. In this set of books, are different chapters (but are called books themselves) on various topics such as: prayer, ablution, fasting, hajj, menses, marriage, so and so forth. As you can imagine, I was definitely busy with learning my religion.
Then the third year of my Islam I was introduced to a class here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called “THE NEW SHAHAADAH CLASS”. I still remember the day like it was yesterday February 6, 2005. Until, today I am involved in this class. My teacher Na’imah Thomas (rahimahullah) really helped me with further learning about my religion. One of those many topics she helped me with is fasting during the Blessed Month of Ramadaan.
When a person thinks of fasting, the first thing they think about is not being able to eat and to control yourself with that aspect of not eating. Not eating or drinking or having sexual intercourse is only a part and some would say a small part of fasting during the month of Ramadaan. Fasting is an act the will get you closer to your Lord if you do it correctly, with sincerity and devotion. Fasting is one of those acts of worship you really can’t show off with because it’s really a secret between your Lord and you, even if you tell someone that you are fasting. Do they really know that you are fasting!?! And the not eating is really mind-over-matter.
Your brain is telling you that it can’t handle not eating for 5 hours let alone 12-14 hours. But we are going to learn that the self always wants things whether good or bad. Always, remember that this is an act of worship and this particular act of worship is special because there is a special reward for the one who does for the sake of Allah seeking His Face and Pleasure.
Ramadaan is the month of the Qur’aan. We should spend our time reading and reciting the Qur’aan if possible. Also, reading the tafsir (which is the explaination of the Qur’aan) will also help you to occupy your time and may even take your mind off of eating and drinking. When reading also we should contemplate on what Allah is trying to tell us in the qur’aan. If you can get your family together some parts of every day to read something from the qur’aan that would be great.
During this Blessed Month, we are also trying to acquire as many good deeds as possible for our deeds during this month are doubled. Some examples of good deeds are: can be helping your family to get themselves prepared for the days fast such as preparing the pre-dawn meals. Remembering not to have such a big sahoor(pre-dawn meal) because it may cause you to want to sleep most of the day and when you eat a big meal it can also make you hungrier faster inshaaAllah. We can also, give charity whether it is money, clothes, knowledge and/or a kind word or even a smile. During this month we should also work on our patience with people, with our family, our co-workers, people at the stores, everyone. During this Blessed Month you want to come out of better than you were before the month.
Some people like to stay busy either at work or cleaning the house, the 1st week or so you may want to do that just to keep you mind off of the not eating and drinking. I usually advise sisters to try to clean your house or workspace before Ramadaan so that you dedicate that time for benefit during this Blessed Month because before you know it Ramadaan will be over and you missed out on a lot of good deeds by wasting time with things that will not benefit you. And Allah knows best
But the last 2 weeks or so hopefully you start to realize that fasting isn’t that hard and it becomes easier. You no longer crave to eat big meals for iftar. No longer say I’m going to make baked chicken, mac and cheese, string beans, cornbread, mashed potatoes and apple pie for dessert because you realize when you break your fast with the dates and water you really aren’t that hungry. You may have a small piece of chicken and some string beans and you are full after that. Some people spend hours cooking, wasting time and food. Some people take this month as a month of food ironic is it!?! What am I going to cook tonight? And you have food left over for the previous night(s). When we should be reflecting on the blessings that Allah have given us of food and drink, in most cases whenever we want them subhaanaAllah. When going shopping especially for food, make a list and stick to it. You don’t want to come home and you have cakes, ice cream, cookies, potatoes chips and candy and you don’t have anything for dinner.
May Allah aid us in cleansing ourselves through worship of Him.
Sakeenah Green has been teaching the “New Shahadah” (New Muslimah) course in Philadlephia, PA, for several years.