It’s that time of year again that I find to have so much meaning and beauty. To me Ramadan is so much more than fasting from dusk till dawn or feasting during Iftar. Not only is it a time when I endeavour to increase my Taqwa/Iman, become more charitable and strengthen my knowledge of the Holy Qur'an, it is also a time that I become closer to Allah and have a closer relationship with the Qur'an.
Many of us who celebrate Ramadan take journeys at this time of the year and this Ramadan I want to take a journey on how I can get the most benefit from the opportunity Ramadan affords me and I want to encourage anyone who wishes to come along on this journey in making this Ramadan one of great triumph and blessings.
In my Ramadan journey this year, I wish to, first and foremost, give top priority to knowing and understanding the true contents and message of the Qur'an. And also, I wish to take a moment to reflect on which aspects of my life; my routine, attitude, personality or behaviour I need to improve on and what my plans are for changing for the better and bringing myself closer to the Islamic standard.
An important part of this journey for me is to be as charitable as I can possibly be. When possible, every time I see people in anguish and poverty, every time my eyes fill with tears at the sight of senseless killings, blown up bodies, devastation and displacement of innocent people, I will open my purse and give charity. I will remember to forego some of my necessities in order for provide for those who are in more need than me. I will also opt not to spend money on frivolous things and luxuries so that those who are in more need than me and my family can be helped through my charity.
Insha Allah, in my journey, I will sleep early after praying Ishaa and Taraweeh and go to bed with a clear and conscious intention of fasting the next day. Then, I will get up well before Suhoor time, thanking Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala for giving me life and then I hope to make special Du'aa for the mercy of Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala on our Ummah. From the start and right to the end of Ramadan, I will try not to sleep after Fajr, but instead study the Qur'an. In the last ten days of the Ramadan, I will go to bed with the intention of getting up early for Tahajjud prayers.
Throughout the day, for the duration of the Ramadan, I will find time to revise and re-learn the Soorahs and Aayaat I already know. Once that is completed, I will learn at least one Aayah a day from a Soorah that I do not already know.
Insha Allah, I will be extra kind, understanding, accepting, considerate and supportive to my non-Muslims friends and neighbours. I will listen to them, carry them along and find ways to have them participate in the blessings of Ramadan by sharing my food and gifts with them. I will counsel myself on my temperamental nature and strive to become calmer. I will try very hard to be forgiving to all those who have offended me, my family or my community. I will clear my heart from anger, suspicion and grudges.
For the full duration of the Ramadan, I will kick at least one of my bad habits and make a special effort to speak only to add value and to say only what is meaningful and useful. When I do not have anything useful to talk about, I will remember Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala through the beautiful and peaceful words taught by the Rasul (SAW), while paying attention to their meanings and feeling the impact of the words on my heart, my mind, my thoughts and my attitude.
Ramadan is a spiritual cleansing month not only for the soul but also for the body. It is said in a Hadith that the Prophet (SAW) said we should leave 1/3 of our stomach for water, 1/3 for air, and 1/3 for food.
Therefore, this Ramadan, in addition to my spiritual journey, I will be going on a health and weight loss one as well. While I embrace Ramadan for its spiritual benefits and all the positives that it represents, it really is an excellent opportunity to shed some extra weight. It can be very tempting to devour anything and everything edible during Iftar, but the tendency of this is putting on more weight than one had to begin with and becoming unhealthier.
When we fast, we are already resetting our metabolism by the protracted, long overnight fast, as well as the daily fasting. Our metabolism resets and our body begins to change the way it operates. There is no need to consume excess food at Iftar, dinner or Suhoor, but we usually do. And when we do that, our body thinks it is in a state of famine and will store everything we eat as fat, because it is worried about food supply.
Furthermore, eating once a day scares our body and our body starts to shut down and slow down our metabolism. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep us healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.
I know for me personally, each Ramadan in the past, I have always had a tendency to over-eat during Iftar. But this year, I want to be disciplined, eat healthy, eat slowly, avoid binge eating at night, listen to my stomach when it is comfortably full and practice constraint. I know Ramadan is not about losing weight, but I would like to use this opportunity, to address my issue of gluttony and use control and constraint on what I eat.
It is nice to have support and encouragement whilst we fast during Ramadan and as part of my Ramadan Plan, I will be sharing my plan of improving myself, my spirituality and my health and diet, which I hope to follow during Ramadan, on my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hannatu.musawa, my Twitter https://twitter.com/hanneymusawa, and my website www.hannatumusawa.com (In the Blog section under Hanneyz Honneyz), should anyone wish to follow along with me.
On these threads and forums, I hope we can share advise, Dua’s, thoughts on how we are coping, share things we want to improve on and share the things we are grateful for in our lives.
Furthermore, on these sites, for the duration of the Ramadan, I will post the balanced diet plan and menu for the low fat, high energy healthy meals I hope to eat in order to avoid the Ramadan extra weight gain.
If anybody wishes to follow this diet plan and come on this health and weight loss journey with me, you are welcome to do so. I will try to make the menu detailed and provide alternatives and recipes where necessary on the forums. However, while Ramadan is an excellent opportunity for overweight people to lose weight, please note that underweight or marginally normal weight people are discouraged from losing weight during Ramadan.
If, like me, you have decided to make this a meaningful and triumphant Ramadan by moving closer to Allah and identifying areas requiring improvement in your life, may Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala assist you and bless you for taking this step in your life.
If one can succeed this Ramadan in living as planned by the true tenants of the Quran, one will be able to look back and rejoice and feel inner joy and true happiness knowing that their Eid day will be the day of celebrating rewards from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'aala.
As we begin this journey for Ramadan, I wish each and every person welcoming this Ramadan a Blessed, fruitful, safe and peaceful month. Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak!
Written By Hannatu Musawa
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