RIYADH: Ramadan, known for being the holiest months in the year, may be the most spiritual but at times can be physically draining.
Many worshippers are under lockdown, and difficulties may arise with the added mental strain of organizing the day to fulfill the balance between life and spirituality.
As different as our experience might be this year while fasting during a nationwide curfew, it can still be productive and rewarding, through discipline and adhering to a schedule. The essence of devotion is lived through fasting, meant to attain an elevated and heightened state of spiritual being. Ramadan is a time of self-renewal as we face the daily grind of lives with a multitude of demands on our time — from family to careers to spirituality.
“In the blessed month of Ramadan, we need to schedule our daily activities, especially as during this month mealtimes are different,” Mai Abdullah Al-Jasser, a school teacher, told Arab News.
Al-Jasser spends her day reading the Holy Qur’an and performing prayers. She then prepares for iftar. With the meal planned a day ahead of time, she doesn’t fuss in the kitchen and waste time thinking about what to make.
“On the heals of Maghrib (sunset) the whole family meets to break our fast and our nights are filled with hours of prayer, reading the Qur’an and being at one with Allah,” Al-Jasser said.
She said that organizing her time wisely contributed to her sense that she had fulfilled her goals.
Marwa Alamasi, a mother of four and a commentator and writer, said: “Being quarantined is a new element of my Ramadan program this year,” she said. “I’m receiving it with positivity and keen on investing my time between caring for my family and practicing acts of worship and Sunnahs for this blessed month, which will undoubtedly alleviate the impact of the current social isolation.”
I have time to schedule in more workouts, finish reading the Qur’an and add some healthy nutritional meals rather than the famous fried foods we are accustomed to during this month.
Like many, Alamasi’s day will be focused on the calm achieved from reciting the Holy Qur’an and preparing meals for iftar. The evening is spent between “developing her skills as a voice commentator, video production and creativity, and between spending an effective and enjoyable time with my children and my husband, in a spirit of intimacy and evoking the distinctive customs of Ramadan.”
Though the days can seem long, especially when depriving oneself of food and nourishment, many have trained themselves and their minds for the various challenges that fasting long hours brings.
Ramadan has always been a month when people take time to renew their sense of balance in life, acquire good habits, sometimes by kickstarting new healthy balanced diets and exercising while working hard to maintain them. It is a time for calm and the renewal of relationships with people and with oneself.
For many, the highlight of iftar is when the sweets arrive. Indulging in a sweet tooth can be difficult to control, especially with the endless options of Arabic sweets on our tables. Overconsumption of sugar can provide temporary indulgence, but with enough control it is possible to get the best of both worlds.
Farah Mahana, a private company employee, warned of binging on sweets, a guilty pleasure for many. “Let’s just admit it, after a long day of fasting, nothing pleases the appetite like a sugar binge. Sweets and deserts are a favorite during this month. Don’t restrict yourself from enjoying them, but don’t go overboard and indulge like crazy.”
“The workload during Ramadan is usually light,” Mahana said, “especially now with the current circumstances and the extraordinary situation we are in. I have time to schedule in more workouts, finish reading the Qur’an and add some healthy nutritional meals rather than the famous fried foods we are accustomed to during this month.”
With two small children, she hopes to make Ramadan as fulfilling as possible for her and her family.
“The word of the day is balance in all things for a rewarding month and hopefully year,” she said.