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Written & first published for Muslimah Media Watch

This guide is a light-hearted insight into some of my experiences embarking on Ramadan for the first time. It goes without saying that this might not apply or be relevant for everyone, but I wanted to share it nonetheless, so others who might be fasting for the first time don’t feel alone in their Ramadan experiences. Please share away or print out and pass it on to any newbies you might spot. Better still, invite them over for Iftar! Ramadan Mubarak.

 

experience-may-vary

 

  • Day one, you will be very enthusiastic. You will wake up an hour before dawn and try to consume two litres of water and three meals before the adhan sounds on your phone. This probably isn’t advisable. I was sick before fajr.
  • If you are praying, be aware that the prayer times are not standardized in the UK so choose a main mosque and download the prayer times so you don’t accidentally eat during daylight hours.
  • Try to make your prayers wherever you are. My brother made his prayers in a stationery cupboard one year…yes, that tiny closet in your office that stocks spare staplers.
  • Bring your prayer stuff to work if you need to, however, it might be a good idea to let people know you will be wearing something different if that is the case. Somebody told me I looked like a ghost in my white prayer shawl. I will sew a floral one this year.
  • Ramadan does not have to curtail your social life, but you should also not feel pressured to socialize if you are just not in the mood. For example, you may receive multiple invites to the beer garden – if you don’t feel like it, it may be best not to go. Sometimes it can hard enough saying you don’t drink alcohol, never mind saying you can’t drink water.
  • You may have to get used to solitary meals late in the evening. This can be difficult, but on the other hand, there is a blessing in all this extra time for dua and prayers. Plus that first glass of water never tasted so good.
  • If you have decided to begin to wear hijab, you may decide that now is the month to try it out. Go for it, but don’t be fooled; three years in and I’m still struggling to wrap it right. Watch plenty of YouTube tutorials before you start.
  • Try and get to your nearest mosque for some congregational prayers so you don’t feel alone. Last year, I watched the Taraweeh prayers via YouTube just so I could pretend to have someone to pray with.
  • And/or if possible, visit a 24 hour supermarket in a bigger town and see if it has run out of yoghurt and has stacks of dates at the door. If the answer is yes, there are fasters about. Hang around after iftar and make some friends.
  • Prepare a stock answer for the following frequently asked questions;
  • How do you survive by not eating or drinking for 30 days and nights?
  • Aren’t you hot in that?
  • ‘The enthusiastic non-Muslim faster’. Last year my sisters wanted to fast with me for a day. It felt good to not be alone and they came away with a new appreciation of what it feels like.
  • If you are feeling up to it, (and if this is something you support and are interested in) this could be a perfect time for Dawah and introducing people to the beauty of Islam.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself to learn everything there is to know for your first Ramadan. But add ‘research Layla Al Qadr’ to your list as this is one you probably don’t want to miss.
  • Decorate your house/room/space with some reminders on the Holy Month and follow some Muslims on social media so you feel part of the community.
  • When you reach the end of Ramadan you may feel so happy that you buy everyone gifts whether they are expecting them or not. You may be hoping that in some way it makes it easier when you tell them you won’t be buying Christmas presents this year… it probably won’t.
  • After Ramadan, you are going to seriously appreciate that first cup of tea in the morning (for non-Brits, you can replace ‘tea’ with ‘coffee’).
  • Remember, when the winter comes around, you will have one of the shortest fasting days in the world. Think how much easier that will be!

Source for header image.

 

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