Ramadan is the month of excitement for Muslims. it is the month of revelation of Qur'an, the month of reading and reciting the whole Qur'an, the month of tahajjud and qiyam al layl, of tarawih prayers, of sadaqah, zakah al-fitr and zakah al-mal. It is also a month of social activities among Muslims.
No one can go anywhere without preparation, and no one invites a guest without preparing to welcome him/her. Similarly, to welcome Ramadan, the month of fasting, one has to prepare. The following are some tips to help the reader prepare accordingly:
v Try to fast Mondays and Thursdays as of today.
v Start reading Qur'an daily after salat al fajr.
v Spend some time listening to recitations from the Qur'an.
v Train yourself to go bed early so that you can wake up far salat al fajr.
v Keep yourself in a state of wudu' most of the time.
v Evaluate yourself daily before going bed. Thank Allah for good deeds, and repent to Him for your mistakes and sins.
v Give yourself time alone, so that you can meditate, make dhikr, tasbih, takbir, tahmid and tahlil. You will be elevated spiritually an you enjoy life tremendously.
v Those who can afford to make Umrah before Ramadan comes should do so.
v Start giving sadaqah daily, no matter how little. Make it a habit like eating and drinking.
v Find time to pray extras, such as duha salat, qiyam al layl, and tahajjud.
v Spend more time reading Islamic books, especially the Qur'an, Sirah, Hadith, and Fiqh.
v Find time to help others with your wisdom, knowledge and other talents.
v Try to write articles on Islam for Muslims and others for non Muslims.
v Associate with Muslim scholars, hafidh, gari', and other ulama so that you may learn from them.
v Train yourself to do good, render free service to others.
v Try to learn how to make daw’ah to non-Muslims. It is an art requiring knowledge and diplomacy.
What to avoid
v Reduce the number of hours you watch TV, instead spend more time reading the Qur'an and other Islamic literature.
v Avoid looking at unlawful pictures, whether they be from commercial magazines, department store catalogs or otherwise.
v Avoid going theaters; instead go to masjid, and make that once a daily habit at least.
v Avoid eating too much. Do not eat unless you are hungry and try not to fill your stomach completely.
v If you drink coffee, tea or soda, be sure to reduce consumption.
v If you smoke, try to reduce daily usage; otherwise Ramadan will be very difficult for you to observe.
v If you like to listen to music, whether the style of western societies or even those from Muslim countries, reduce, even eliminate the time you spent on them; replace them with reciting and listening to recitation from the Qur'an.
v If you enjoy playing cards and board games try your best to avoid the as much as possible and fill your time with something useful.
v If you enjoy going with friends to picnics and other social gatherings, try to reduce it before Ramadan; otherwise fasting the month of Ramadan will be more difficult.
v If you have friends who do not practice the teaching of Islam, try to avoid socializing with them.
v If you travel a lot on business, try to do more local business so you can be more closer to your family and community.
v If you are used to stay up till , try to go to bed earlier, so that you will be able to wake up early for fajr prayer and tahajjud as well.
To prepare ourselves before Ramadan arrives is far better than waiting till he comes. To prepare ourselves for anything in life is a sign of wisdom and maturity. No one is assured of living one day more; tomorrow may not come. So hurry and benefit from blessings and rewards from Allah.
Sr. Umm Bilal Al-Alim
SOME HEALTH GUIDELINES FOR RAMADHAAN
This article provides useful advice on how to avoid some common problems encountered in Ramadhan. If followed, it would enable one to fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual benefits of Ramadhan.
During the holy month of Ramadhan, our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is over-weight, Ramadhan is an ideal time to normalize one's weight.
In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods including fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.
v Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, unpolished rice, etc. (called complex carbohydrates).
v Fast-burning foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
v Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc
The foods eaten should be well-balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems.
v Fried and fatty foods.
v Foods containing too much sugar.
v Over-eating especially at sehri.
v Too much tea at sehri. Tea makes you pass more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.
v Smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadhan. Smoking is unhealthy and one should stop completely.
v Complex carbohydrates at suhor so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
v Haleem is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-burning food.
v Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
v Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat.
v Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
v As much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time.
Constipation can cause piles (haemorroids), fissures (painful cracks in anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling.
Causes: Too much refined foods, too little water and not enough fibre in the diet.
Remedy: Avoid excessive refined foods, increase water intake, use bran in baking, brown flour when making roti.
Indigestion and Wind
Causes: Over-eating. Too much fried and fatty foods, spicy foods, and foods that produce wind e.g. eggs, cabbage, lentils, carbonated drinks like Cola also produce gas.
Remedy: Do not over-eat, drink fruit juices or better still drink water. Avoid fried foods, add ajmor to wind-producing foods.
Lethargy ('low blood pressure')
Excessive sweating, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, especially on getting up from sitting position, pale appearance and feeling faint are symptoms associated with "low blood pressure". This tends to occur towards the afternoon.
Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake.
Remedy: Keep cool, increase fluid and salt intake.
Caution: Low blood pressure should be confirmed by taking a blood pressure reading when symptoms are present. Persons with high blood pressure may need their medication adjusted during Ramadhan. They should consult their doctor.
Causes: Caffeine and tobacco-withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack of sleep, hunger usually occur as the day goes by and worsens at the end of the day. When associated with "low blood pressure", the headache can be quite severe and can also cause nausea before Iftar.
Remedy: Cut down caffeine and tobacco slowly starting a week or two before Ramadhan. Herbal and caffeine-free teas may be substituted. Re-organise your schedule during the Ramadan so as to have adequate sleep.
Low Blood Sugar
Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, perspiring easily, feeling shaky (tremor), unable to perform physical activities, headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar.
Causes: in non-diabetics having too much sugar i.e. refined carbohydrates especially at suhur (sehri). The body produces too much insulin causing the blood glucose to drop.
Remedy: Eat something at sehri and limit sugar-containing foods and drinks.
Caution: Diabetics may need to adjust their medication in Ramadan, consult your doctor.
Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium foods.
Remedy: Eat foods rich in the above minerals e.g. vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat and dates.
Caution: Those on high blood pressure medication and with kidney stone problems should consult their doctor.
Peptic Ulcers, Heart Burn, Gastritis and Hiatus Hernia
v Increased acid levels in the empty stomach in Ramadhan aggravate the above conditions. It presents as a burning feeling in the stomach area under the ribs and can extend upto the throat. Spicy foods, coffee, and Cola drinks worsen these conditions.
v Medications are available to control acid levels in the stomach. People with proven peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia should consult their doctor well before Ramadhan.
Kidney stones may occur in people who have less liquids to drink. Therefore, it is essential to drink extra liquids so as to prevent stone formation.
Causes: During Ramadhan, when extra salah are performed the pressure on the knee joints increases. In the elderly and those with arthritis this may result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort.
Remedy: Lose weight so that the knees do not have to carry any extra load. Exercise the lower limbs before Ramadhan so that they can be prepared for the additional strain. Being physically fit allows greater fulfillment, thus enabling one to be able to perform salah with ease.
Author: Farouk Haffeejee, MD, Islamic Medical Association of S. Africa http//www.jamiat.org.za/hramadhaan.html