Five tips to prepare for Ramadan
The blessed month of Ramadan - where Muslims from all continents unite in a period of fasting, self evaluation and spiritual growth - will begin on 17, 18 or 19 June.
Below, you will find five tips to help you prepare for the month of Ramadan, giving you extra time to focus on its more important aspects.
1. Do your shopping:
This will save you having to rush around, and worry needlessly, during Ramadan. This could include food, as well as Eid clothes and gifts. For food, make a shopping list, and buy all the dry food that you can now. For example, if you intend to soak dates in milk or water and eat them for Iftar, you can buy (and pit) those dates now. It’s also possible to prepare other foods, for example, you can prepare and freeze vegetables to save you time later.
Thinking ahead to Eid, sort out your Eid outfit, and if you intend to buy new clothes, do that now to avoid the stress of having to buy something last minute. Once you have your outfit, make sure everything is clean, pressed and in one place to make sure that you, and your family, are prepared for the early morning Eid prayer.
Finally, gifts. If you buy your gifts now, you can get them wrapped, labelled and prepared for Eid.
2. Remove caffeine from your diet:
The NHS advises that if you drink a lot of caffeinated drinks - such as coffee, tea, carbonated soft drinks or energy drinks - reduce and ideally remove them from your diet before Ramadan begins. This will help you avoid ‘withdrawal’ symptoms, such as headaches and tiredness. If you reduce caffeine now, you will be able to offset these symptoms by drinking a lot of water.
You can use caffeine free alternatives, or drink more herbal and fruit teas. Try to keep to this rule during Ramadan too - caffeine is a diuretic, and drinking it at Sahour means that your body may lose fluids, minerals and salts that you need for the day ahead.
3. Prepare for Fajr:
In preparation for the Fajr prayer, change your routine now. If you find it difficult to get up in time for Fajr, you can make changes to your routine now. Start going to bed earlier and setting the alarm for Fajr time. It may take you a few days to get used to this new routine, but it will ensure that you are getting enough rest and better able to cope with getting up early when Ramadan begins.
4. Calculate your Zakat obligations:
Ramadan is a time for generosity and giving, and an important part is the payment of Zakat. This is a compulsory act of worship that requires Muslims with wealth at or above a certain threshold (Nisab) to donate some of it to those more needy than themselves.
If you’re unsure if you qualify to give Zakat, or what level of Zakat to pay, please see Al Rayan Bank’s online Zakat Calculator. This has been developed with our Zakat Education Partner, the National Zakat Foundation (NZF), which aims to utilise Zakat funds and voluntary donations collected in the United Kingdom for the benefit of local, eligable recipients.
5. Ensure that you eat well when you’re not fasting:
It is very tempting to eat and drink a great amount during Suhour and Iftar. However, in order to stay healthy, try to avoid the rich special dishes, and instead eat simple, wholesome food - and not too much. This will give you the energy that you need for the long hours of fasting ahead. The NHS 'Guide to healthy fasting during Ramadan' advises, that you start preparing for the fast early by eating smaller meals that contain food from all of the major food groups:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Bread, cereals and potatoes
- Meat, fish, eggs, beans or protein alternatives
- Milk and dairy foods
- Foods containing fat and sugar
Cut out food that contains refined carbohydrates (ie. sugar and white flour), and fatty food (eg. cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets like Indian mithai) as they will not give your body the nourishment it needs.
For more information on how to prepare yourself for Ramadan fasting, including meal plans and a video, please go to the NHS page on a Healthy Ramadan.