What Ramadhan? Part II
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
* In this post I’ll cover a couple of other unique features of Ramadhan in terms of daily routine, before moving onto a final post in this mini-series touching on more spiritual matters inshaAllah *
Fasting lasts from (just before) dawn until sunset. This year in the UK there were some pre-Ramadhan murmurs about how fasting would be really difficult (the first fast of Ramadhan lasted around 18 hours here), but to be honest I don’t think it has been all that different from other years, especially once you get into the ‘rhythm’ when you have a few fasts under your belt.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم advised us to eat a pre-dawn meal before beginning a day’s fasting as there is blessing in it. So in Ramadhan if you were a fly on the wall in a Muslim household you’d find the family getting together at what might seem like a ridiculous hour, to have their suhoor meal. This year mine has varied between cereal, toast, bread rolls and leftovers from iftaar time. Oh and caffeine is a must. I essentially treat it as a very early breakfast!
Fasting ends at sunset, the time of the fourth daily prayer, Maghrib. It’s traditional to break the fast with dates and water as this is following the way of the blessed Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم . You might imagine that as soon as the day’s fast has ended Muslims get stuck into their meal. Actually, Maghrib prayer needs to be performed so many of us simply break our fast with dates and water, perhaps have a piece or two of some ‘finger food’ and then complete the Maghrib prayer before sitting down to our meal. Iftaar time is a blessed time as Allah says the supplications of a person are accepted at this moment, so if you were still a fly on the wall you would probably see a lot of Muslims sitting at the table supplicating at the moment of breaking their fast despite the hunger they might be feeling.
Personally I avoid eating a heavy iftaar meal if I can help it. It might be tempting after a day of feeling hunger, but it is so much harder to pray taraweeh and stay up to worship throughout the night when you’ve eaten too much! You can always have a snack again after taraweeh if you still feel hungry and then suhoor is just around the corner anyway with the short nights we have this year in the UK. Besides, one of the many benefits of Ramadhan is that it teaches us self-control and gratitude: if we know we regularly over-eat, Ramadhan is a good time to try to break the habit inshaAllah.
Muslims having their iftaar meal at a masjid, Dubai