“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
Ramadan is a special time for all Muslims. It is during this month that the holy Quran was first was revealed to our dear Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Ramadan is a time in which we can grow spiritually, gain extra reward and forgiveness of sins by fasting during the day and praying during the night. It is during this time that the gatesof heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained up, hencemaking worship and good deeds during this holy monthy month easier.
Know that you are not alone in fasting for the first time – our pious predecessors also fasted for the first time at the dawn of Islam. There are also many others around the world fasting for the first time. Here are some practical suggestions to make your first Ramadan easier:
Before Ramadan begins, try fasting one or two days before the start of Ramadan, so that you can get a feel of how fasting feels. The first day of fasting is usually the most challenging, but after a day or two the body becomes used to fasting and it becomes easier to fast.
During Ramadan, try to wake up for suhoor (pre-dawn meal). Choose a healthy and light meal or snack such as dates and milk, soup and yoghurt. Avoid fried foods. Eating at suhoor helps with the hunger during the day and makes the days of fasting much easier, and is a sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upn him. You could also try meal prepping for suhoor if waking up and preparing something to eat is challenging.
Ramadan is the ideal time to make a lot of dua and ask Allah for forgiveness of sins. The prayers of the fasting person are never rejected, and every minute that you are fasting, you are engaged in a type of secret worship that brings you closer to Allaah, so don’t miss out on the precious opportunities to ask Allah, and keep talking to Him throughout your day.
During the day try to allot some time to reading the Quran and it’s translation during the day, even if its just a few ayahs (verses) after each prayer. If you’re working, try reading the Quran for a few minutes after the fajr prayer. Apps can really help in this! If you are not able to read the Quran, you could listen to the Quran and read its translation. The point is to have a little bit more of a connection with the Quran in the Month of Quran, whatever that looks like, for you.
Ramadan is an ideal time to watch Islamic lectures, videos and podcasts about Islam in general and the virtues of Ramadan online. There are many series to look out for – look for one short series that you can watch or listen to while prepping your pre-dawn meal , for example, and then choose maybe a longer one that appeals to your heart and what you need right now- it might be a series on a deep dive into one particular surah, or a series which does a summary of the thirty parts of the Quran. Pick one and you will feel a sense of growth and accomplishment and even companionship with all those who are listening along with you. The danger to be aware of is to get sucked into recommendations and notifications from many different social media chats – pick your series and only add others as and when you can, remembering that consistency builds strength, with the permission of Allaah.
Many mosques host iftar (breaking of fast) gatherings. This is a good way to meet Muslims, make new friends and ease any loneliness one may feel. You could also host an iftar gathering for Muslim friends and any non-Muslim friends and family. This is a good opportunity for dawah if you are able to host one.
Preparation is key. Before the month begins, try gathering recipes and buying food items that you need to cook for the first few days before Ramadan, thus freeing up time to spend on worship. You could also buy all the non-perishable food items needed for the month of Ramadan to make the most of this precious time.
When breaking the fast avoid drinking copious amounts of liquids, take sips to get your body used to drinking and eating after fasting. Break your fast with dates as is the sunnah. Drinking warm drinks and soup before the main meal helps.
The Night of Power is better that a thousand months – Surah Al-Qadr, 97:3
The last ten nights of Ramadan is an ideal time to increase worship, seek forgiveness and give in charity with the intention of catching Laylatul Qadr (the night of power). By the last ten nights we have become used to fasting and increased worship, and though you might feel tired, remind yourself that this is the last leg of the race and you really want to make it count. Do what you can to make things easy for your worship and remembrance of Allah at this time – if you can book days off from work, do so. If you can have meals prepped in the freezer from earlier, then do so. If you can cut out something- socialising, screen time – for the sake of Allah at this time, do so, because these moments are precious and you want to try and extract as much goodness from them as possible.
Buy new outfits and any food, drink and decorations before the big day, so that you have time to enjoy the day and spend valuable time with friends and loved ones. Make plans beforehand if you don’t have family to spend eid with – look up events in your local masaajid, or make plans to spend the day with friends, ask around if anyone knows of gatherings for reverts, and get in touch with Solace if you are finding it a challenge.
If you miss any fasts ( because of medical reasons or because you are on your period), make a note of them somewhere you will remember, as you’ll need to make those up when you can, inshaaAllaah, as its surprising how bad your memory can get ( “I’m sure it was only 3 days….” when it could have been seven!).
Congratulations on completing one of the pillars of Islam! And remember to congratulate yourself, for your achievement, and thank Allaah for this opportunity to be cleansed of sins and to come closer to Him.
May Allah accept our worship and fasting and make our Ramadan a success, ameen.
اَللّهُمَّ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان
Allahumma ballighna Ramadan
O Allah! Let us reach the month of Ramadan
About the author:
Iman was born and raised in London. She is a former teacher who taught English in Saudi Arabia for almost a decade. Iman loves reading, writing, travelling and learning about other cultures.