8 Tips for Fasting in a Non-Muslim Environment.

Ramadan, a month awaited by excited Muslims! This month reflects the rituals of faith that strengthen the links between each individual and Allah. Each country has its own customs and traditions, and Muslims live all over the world, many of who are in non- Muslim countries. These Muslim communities celebrate this holy month, in addition to lifestyle and custom differences between the state in which they reside and their countries of origin. Nonetheless, rituals of Ramadan are the same among Muslims in the west and Muslims living in Islamic countries.

Russia is not a Muslim country, but rituals practiced by Muslims in Ramadan are the same: meeting at the suhoor table, going for prayers in congregation at the mosque, reciting Qur’an in groups, performing the Taraweeh prayer etc. These people feel a sense of closeness and religious faith by meeting with other Muslims who are doing the same.

However, when you have a busy schedule, keeping focused and caring about your spiritual deeds is not always easy. It takes steadfastness to focus, good motivation, and working smartly to beat interruptions.

Here are some ways to manage your time in Ramadan, and be productive.

1. “I always miss suhoor”

Suhoor is a Prophetic Sunnah. Anas ibn Malek said, the prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said: “Have Suhoor, indeed there’s blessing in it”. [Bukhari].

If you work day shifts and get to bed late, make sure you wake up for suhoor. Even a glass of water and some dates will suffice, for Allah has put barakahin this. You will get the blessings In sha Allah and at the same time the food will give you the power to stay awake during your day.
2. “I can’t join my family for iftar”

Being with family especially in Ramadan, is a good thing that makes you feel warm and close to those who love and care about you. But due to office working hours, you may find your shift during iftar. But there’s a way out, you can arrange to have iftar with family over the weekend. Alternatively, if your manager can understand the “family tie idea”, you can excuse yourself for an hour to have iftar with the family, and you’ll work for that hour after the usual working time. What if you can’t arrange that?  You can have iftar at work with office colleagues.

3. Don’t be a Glutton!

A lot of people eat too much at iftar, and end up not praying Taraweeh or even breathe! Eating is not forbidden, but eating too much is not approved of course. The body and digestive system are badly affected by doing so. Break up the big meal into small ones that your body can handle easily, and leave you feeling less overwhelmed.

For example: break your fast with dates and water, then pray Maghrib, then have something light like a fruit or vegetable salad, then pray Isha. You can have your main dish after prayers. Small meals consistently, will bear fruit over time, and you will not feel tired during Ramadan and at the end of the month, you will be in better health.

4. “I want to pray Qiyaam but…!!”

Praying Taraweeh and Qiyam is one of the most spiritual acts in Ramadan. Praying is preferred in a mosque, as the prophet(pbuh) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer”. [Tirmidhi]

But what if you don’t have mosque in your city? Or the mosque is very far, like a 100 kilometers? You can pray with your friends at home, or specify a place and use it as a mosque, just to get the merits of praying in jamaa’a.
5. “I can’t feel Ramadan”

Unfortunately, a lot of us say that, feel that, and can’t handle this point. So, how do you stay motivated to make the most out of Ramadan when everyone else around you treats Ramadan as a non-important event? Each one of us has a great way out. Just keep making “Istighfaar” all the time. It’s an easy thing you can do while you’re working, cooking, driving etc. The same goes with dhikr.

You can easily motivate others and get yourself motivated too. For example: distribute dates for iftar at office, your colleagues will be happy and will feel that Ramadan is a month of giving. You could also use this moment  to tell them about Allah and Islam.

6. A Coin Might Equal a House in Paradise

“The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower. [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 261]

The example set by the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) teaches us to be as generous as possible. We are also encouraged to give alms as a way to earn the pleasure of Allah, averting calamities and and to cure ailments. There was an incident from the recent past regarding a woman who was diagnosed with renal failure. Dialysis stopped showing positive results and she was recommended to undergo a kidney transplant. Another poor woman came to the hospital to donate her kidney, but was crying a lot. They asked her why she was crying. She said she was donating her kidney because she was too poor and couldn’t find any work and her kids were going hungry. The sick woman paid the poor woman the total amount for the kidney without actually taking the kidney. A day after that, when the doctors examined the sick woman, they found her 100% healthy. Subhan Allah!

7. Love Technology? Tune It Out and Reconnect with Ramadan!

A lot of today’s youth are addicted to technology; they might spend 20 hours per day playing video games or surfing the net. But Ramadan is to remember Allah and share the happiness with your family, friends and community as well.

In Egypt, the youth keep themselves busy with social projects in Ramadan. One such task is called the  “Ramadan Bag”. Each youth contributes some money and they buy dry rations like rice, sugar, oil etc. Each product is packed and then put into bags, and then distributed to the poor across the country.
8. Do some Da’wah

One of the most important things each one of us can do in Ramadan as a community, is to take advantage of questions from non-Muslims and  do da’wah about the virtues of fasting in Islam, and how it purifies a person’s soul. Da’wah or calling others to Islam is the best of deeds, because it involves guiding people to the straight path and to that which will bring them happiness in this world and in the Hereafter.

“And who is better in speech than he who [says: ‘My Lord is Allaah (believes in His Oneness),’ and then stands firm (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allah’s (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims.’” [Qur’an: Chapter 41, Verse 33].

If you do plan on doing da’wah (I hope so), you should know how to make da’wah. Allah says: “Say (O Muhammad): ‘This is my way; I invite unto Allah (i.e. to the Oneness of Allah — Islamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge, …” [Qur’an: Chapter 12, Verse 108]

Allah also says: “Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Revelation and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided” [Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verse 125]

The Muslims must follow the example and guidance of their Prophet and call others to Islam, bearing insults and harm with patience for the sake of Allah, as their Messenger did.

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much” [Qur’an: Chapter 33, Verse 21]

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