What Ramadan is (Really) About

Re-posting this for the start of Ramadan 2017.

As a bonus, here are a few tricks-of-the-trade for fasting:

0.) Have a Plan — first recognize that fasting for Ramadan is a difficult practice (intentionally so), and that it impacts your daily routine in a big way. Everything from your sleep schedule to your work life will be affected. Figure out what your goals are for the month (be that losing weight, or just getting through without wearing yourself out) and plan accordingly.

1.) Breaking the Fast — pace yourself. Tempting as it is to gluttonize, doing so is a mistake. You will quickly feel full and lethargic, both of which will prevent you from using this valuable time. Binge eating followed by inactivity/sleep is also poor practice for those looking to lose weight this month. Islam is about self-control and moderation.

2.) Exercise — while many observing the fast this month will want (understandably) to stay as sedentary as possible, it’s important not to get too lazy this month. Exercise (particularly, weight training) conditions your body to expend energy more efficiently.

3.) Be Mindful of Nutrition — I recommend an emphasis on fruit and vegetable consumption when breaking the fast. These are not only more healthy and less filling than alternatives, but will replenish you after a long day of fasting in a way that most other food groups simply won’t. If you elect to wake up early in the AM for “breakfast” (Sahoor), I recommend a meal high in proteins — the most efficient/longest-lasting source of energy.

4.) See the Bigger Picture — do not lose sight about what this month is about. Always keep in mind those for whom fasting is a daily practice by necessity; be thankful for what you have, and give your time/money to charitable causes. Apply the self-control you are learning this month to form other good habits and kick the bad ones (patience/anger).

March On Progress

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. At least, Monday was the beginning for many, but the exact/proper date of its start is a topic I have no interest in discussing.

This is my first blog post, so I should describe my background a bit…

I am a citizen of the USA (I almost never call the country “America” because I am a bit of a pedant). I was born in the Midwest and have lived there all my life. I was raised in a Muslim household: one parent was practicing, the other far less so. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I grew up with strong ties to the local Muslim community, which I still have.

On a personal level, I have previously made efforts to be regularly practicing of the religion I grew up with. These efforts have never…

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