As I write, we are halfway through Ramadan in the UK and most of us have fallen into some sort of routine. A routine that isn’t measured by the hourly clock, but by the prayer.
And it’s beautiful.
For non-Muslims, this routine is something strange. For Muslims, this routine comes to reset our spiritual clock. If you’ve been neglecting your prayer, you come to pray on time. If you’ve been neglecting fajr, you come to realize just what you’ve been missing.
Let me share with you a typical day in Ramadan.
Fajr – 3:15 am
The first prayer of the day marks the start of the fast. As soon as this prayer is called, we must stop eating and drinking. Most of us will wake up about an hour before the prayer to make sure that we have something to eat and drink that will set us up for the day. We call this suhoor.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Eat Suhoor (predawn meal). Surely, there is a blessing in Suhoor. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
If you are born Muslim, your family may have a traditional suhoor meal. For those of us who have converted to Islam, discovering what is best to eat is a case of trial and error.
You should eat something that will help maintain your energy levels throughout the day so oats and wholegrain are good. Personally, I find that porridge followed by yogurt works best for me. It goes without saying, we need to drink plenty to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Avoid anything salty as this will leave you feeling thirsty. Also, avoid anything too sugary as this will raise your blood sugar quickly and result in a sugar crash.
With an eye always on the clock, we make sure we brush our teeth and make wudu ready for the prayer.
I try to take a few moments at fajr to do dhikr or make dua, enjoy the stillness of this time of day and listen to the birds sing their dawn chorus. This is also a good time to quietly read Quran.
Then it’s back to bed for some sleep before the normal day begins.
Dhuhr – 1:20 pm
For those of us at work or college, dhuhr prayer will be called at around lunch time. This gives us the perfect opportunity to take a break and pray.
Find an empty room, or even just a quiet corner, and offer the dhuhr prayer. With the rest of the lunch break, take some time to recharge.
If you’re at home this is another great opportunity to do some dhikr and read Quran.
Always keep in mind that although a huge part of Ramadan is fasting, it is also the month of the Quran and we should try to connect with the word of Allah as much as we can.
It’s also the month of refining our character; and as well as abstaining from food and drink, we should abstain from arguing, being rude or ill tempered.
Whoever does not stop speaking falsehood and acting in accordance with it, God has no need of him giving up his food and drink. (Al-Bukhari)
Asr – 5:40 pm
The time between Asr and Maghrib is the most difficult. This is the time of day when energy levels are low and fatigue is high. Some people choose to have a short nap at this time in preparation for the night prayer.
For the rest of us, we’re preparing iftar. This will be the meal we break our fast with.
Many born Muslims will be making iftar preparations with their family, taking turns to host the meal or bring food to the masjid. It’s quite a lonely part of the day for converts as our non-Muslim families will be enjoying their evening meal together. I used to take myself up to my room to read the English translation of the Quran.
Then we wait for maghrib…
Maghrib – 9:30 pm
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to break his fast with fresh dates before praying; if there were no (fresh dates) then with dry dates, and if there were no (dried dates) then he would take a few sips of water. (At-Tirmidhi)
Dua at the moment of breaking the fast is readily accepted by Allah, so I usually take time to remember any requests as well as to pray for my family and myself.
After the maghrib prayer it’s time to eat!
We all know that if we go food shopping while we are hungry we will buy too much. It’s similar with fasting; cooking while hungry usually means we cook too much. However, I find that after a few bites I feel full.
As the month passes we tend to better anticipate our appetite and calm down on portion size. It’s also imperative to make sure that we drink water enough to dehydrate our body. So drink up!
Ensuring that our iftar meal is well balanced and nutritious is so important to make sure that our body is getting all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Alhamdulillah, at the breaking of the fast we feel a great sense of satisfaction that we have achieved another day of fasting.
Isha – 11:25 pm
The last prayer of the day comes in quite late; and as a sister I have the luxury of staying at home to pray. This is usually the case for those of us with small children. There’s also the fact that at this stage of the day we’re happy but exhausted.
Others, men in particular, choose to attend the masjid for Tarawih prayers which is a special night prayer performed in Ramadan. Many masjids aim to complete a full recitation of the Quran during this prayer throughout the month.
While the prayer comes with many rewards, it is a sunnah (optional) so there is no sin on anyone who misses a night.
Depending on what we need to do the next day, some of us will try to get some sleep while others will spend time in prayer, recitation or reflection.
We set our alarms for Fajr and the Ramadan routine continues.
May Allah accept our worship, our fasts and our duas. Ameen!