Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ramadan 102

So the last post was outlining what Ramadan is and why muslims fast.
This post is more of a 'day in the life of a faster' kind of thing, just giving you a rundown of what happens during the day.

First things first, I'll outline the five prayers that muslims pray during the day.  It's obligatory for muslims to pray during the day, at 5 separate times.  In urdu/punjabi it's called 'Namaaz', in arabic- 'Salaah/Salaat'. (You're exempt from praying for obvious reasons like illness, pregnancy, and ladies don't pray when they are on their period).

The 5 daily prayers are obligatory, as it is so easy to get distracted and caught up in other things in this world, that we don't even realise when we're disconnecting spiritually from God. So we pray at different times of the day to remember God, and be thankfully for all we have etc. (If you believe in God, you'll get it, if you don't....then just pretend you do and bare with me :P).
So praying is the time to spiritually reconnect with God.  The word 'Muslim' actually means submission, or one who submits to God, so it's our duty to remember and submit to god throughout the day, as it is so ridiculously easy to get lost watching TV, or on the internet or playing games etc. etc.

The time it takes to pray differs between each prayer during the day, but the longest it takes is about 20mins, so it's not too long.

Anyway, the 5 daily prayers are;

Fajr (Pronounced Fah-jur): Prayer performed before the break of dawn/sunrise.  Works out to be at roughly 3.15am in the UK right not

Zuhr (Zu-hor): Early afternoon prayer.  Starts at 1.15pm

Asr (As-ar): Late afternoon/evening prayer. Starts at 7.45pm

Maghrib (say it as it's spelt): Evening prayer, performed after sunset. Starts at around 9.30ish

Isha: Night prayer. Starts at 10.45pm

Picture kind of summarising prayer times during the day

The times of prayer a based on the location of the sun throughout the day, so the times of prayer are constantly changing, for example, In winter time, Salat-ul-Fajr is significantly later than it is in summer, beginning at around 5am-ish, as the sun rises a lot later during winter.
Masjids (mosques) anticipate this, and so have calendars of prayer times throughout the month

The reason I outlined the prayer times was because the routine of fasting during Ramadan revolves around the prayer times.

So my first fast began on Friday, whilst others began fasting on Saturday
(This is due to Mosques in the UK being fragmented, and all of them not sharing the same belief system as to when Ramadan officially begins, and therefore when we begin fasting, but that's a discussion for another time).

It's actually really annoying that the whole county does not just start fasting on the same day, as it mean everyone celebrates Eid on separate days then!  but as individuals, we must follow what Mosque we belong to, and if they say Ramadan starts on a certain day, as opposed to another Mosque who says it starts on another day, then all we can do is follow our local Mosque.  It's the Imams and Sheikhs duties to guide us, so all we can do is believe them when they say that the crescent moon has been sighted! (And when I say sheikh, I don't mean the sleazy sheikhs you see in tv shows that have harems of women! They aren't real sheikhs!!)

As the first day of fasting for us began on friday, that meant that the Taraweeh prayer would begin, and had to be prayed on thursday night (This post is getting wordier than I expected, so here's a short blurb about taraweeh namaaz if you're interested).

Taraweeh Prayer is an extended version of the evening prayer, Isha.  So that's when Ramadan officially begins, and the first fast will start the next day.
In preparation, people usually stuff their faces to the point of regret, where it feels like you're stomach is going to explode!
I used to be one of those people, but I've learnt from experience!!

So basically after you've prayed your taraweeh namaaz, if you have work/school/whatever the next day, then you'd go to bed.  But since, when you are fasting, you can't eat from sunrise until sunset, you must get up just before Fajr (the early morning prayer), before the sunrises, and eat.  this time is called 'Sehri' time.  It's better to eat stuff like fruit, weetabix, anything that will keep you going throughout the day.  And this is the time to drink lots and lots of water.
So you've eaten, the cut off period is 15 minutes before the sun rises, so you can't have anything after that.  You pray your Fajr namaaz, and then pop back to bed.

You wake up for work/school/whatever at whatever time, but this is the not so great bit, you must not brush your teeth with toothpaste.  the best thing to use is Miswaak (again, getting to wordy, google it).  You can't use toothpaste as it has those nice minty flavoury thingys, and it's inevitable that when you're brushing your teeth, you're gunna swallow some toothpaste. So as you cannot eat or drink anything at all, it's best not to use toothpaste, as it's pretty likely that you're gunna swallow some, and you know, rules be rules and all that.
Just do what I do and brush your teeth at Sehri time.

so you go about your day, read your prayers when it's time.  Do things that will enhance your spirituality, like go to islamic study circles, read the Qur'an, Read Islamic books to increase your knowledge etc etc.

Then comes the wonderful time called Iftari.
That's when you open your fast, and eat, till your brain begs you to stop, basically.  You open your fast at Iftar when the sun sets, so you eat, and then go pray your Maghrib salat.

Open your fast with one of these bad boys. I loves me some dates.

Then you chill for a bit, sit there, regretting you're decision to drink that 3rd glass of Lassi and eat your 15th Samosa, and then countdown the time until Taraweeh namaaz begins.  Then you come home from taraweeh, sleep, wake up just before sunrise, and do it allllll over again, for another 29 days!

Some stuff that peoples said:

That rambling chap Mark said: 
'I think if it's just not eating during the daylight hours, even someone like myself could do it. Abstaining from pointless activities would be a lot harder than not eating for me really :)'

It's the same for me.  I don't really mind the whole not eating bit.  Cuz you're in such a meditative state, you're mind and body know that eating is on the back-burner for now.  Like when I'm not fasting, if I haven't eaten any breakfast, come 12pm, I'm starving! But when I'm fasting, I know I can't eat, so I don't even think about, and my tummy doesn't start growling at me until 5pm-ish! 

In regards to the pointless activities things, there are so many other things to do during the day, that you don't really notice! And we all have to indulge in some form of pointless activity at some point during the day!

That nice Lady In Red asked:
'I was under the impression that you eat throughout the night during Ramadan - is this correct? Or just one meal at sunset?'

Technically, the permissible time to eat is through the night as we only fast when the sun is out, but when you've been fasting all day, your tummy shrinks, and so the capacity to can eat shrinks also!
It's like if you've ever been starvinggggg all day, and when you finally do eat, you get full really easily, it's like that when opening a fast.  So as far as I know, most people just eat the once, then pray, then sleep, then wake up and eat lightly again before the sun rises, but if you choose to do so, you can eat all night :D

That really funny lady NellieVaughn said:

'But then, I read the part about limiting caffeine. I drink a lot of water, so I should be fine, even with all the caffeine I drink, right? I just couldn't give up coffee. I just quit smoking, and it's all I have.'

 You can drink all the caffeine you want :D
It's just dieticians and other people who like to tell you what to eat say that caffeine can dehydrate, so may not be best if you're gunna fast for a month, but as long as you hydrate yourself, you do what you gotta do to prevent you from smacking a random person in the face 
*thumbs up*



  1. you really know all this???

    1. Yessss :D
      I did have a little help from google though :P

  2. It was interesting to find out that there is some disagreement about when Ramadan starts. It has always been the conventional wisdom around these parts, that Muslims were all on the same page as far as the rules and regulations were concerned, and we Christians were the only ones who bickered about such things. Now I think I am seeing that is the same pretty much in all faiths.

    1. For the most part, Muslims are in agreement about major things. it's not as fragmented as Christianity, but there are plenty of disputes within the different sects/groups in Islam!

  3. This does sound like far too many rules for me after all. Okay that's it, I'd never make it as a Muslim. Back to being agnostic for me then I guess :) But good luck with the fasting and what not. I'm sure you'll get through it fine :)

    1. haha, there are a lot of rules in Ramadan, but it's not too bad.
      As long as your soul is at peace, it doesn't matter which faith you belong too :D

  4. Replies
    1. You think so? Maybe I overcomplicated it! Or maybe it's normal for me as I'm used to it?

  5. Fantastic... Sounds complicated folks, indeed I thought it was, but it is all really simple... Couldn't have worded things better. Thanks, and keep up the good work, mashAllah.

    1. I hope I didn't overcomplicate it too much :(
      thank you :D

  6. Ramadan Mubarak :) another gr8 informative blog :)

  7. ramadan kareem! adorable post and props for doing an informative post on ramdan. u don't use toothpaste? uh.. i do since i had probably end up stinky-smelly if not for the minty toothpaste. guess it's not exactly forbidden, but u r just being on the careful side of things. =D

    happy fasting!

    ps-our faSting started on saturday

    1. Ramadan Kareem to you too!
      Eh the toothpast thing isn't a strict no no, it's just something we've always done from young age so I suppose we're used to it!
      Hope your ramadan is going well!

  8. Ever since I was a little girl, I thought about becoming a nun, but it's a highly disciplined life. On the one hand, I feel that I can do it, as I spend a lot of my time doing volunteer work, and have completely turned my back on romantic relationships. On the other hand, I am still very selfish and lazy. Looking at what is asked of you from your religion this month has made me realize that a convent is in my future, just not my immediate future.

    1. Aww that's sweet. There are a lot of rules and criteria in religion, but they're not impossible to carry out :)