With over 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, this year between the 12th of April to 12th of May the Islam community will be observing the holy period of Ramadan. In this edit of TALA Talks, Nasima from TALA HQ gives us a breakdown of her routine for Ramadan as well as common practices around fasting and how it impacts the body.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that during this month, the gates to heaven open. It’s a month where Muslims take the time out to reflect, build a closer relationship to God, help those that are most in need and spend time with friends and family. It lasts between 29-30 days and this year, Ramadan begins on the 13th April 2021 and ends on the 13th May 2021.
What are the rules of fasting?
During Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. Some people are exempt from fasting; pregnant women, the elderly, those that are travelling and those that are ill. In the UK that's 16 hours of not eating or drinking. The fast teaches discipline, sacrifice, mindfulness, reflection, and empathy for those who are less fortunate.
What makes Ramadan so special to me?
- Gratitude: It’s a time where we abundantly practice gratitude. When I can’t drink water for 16 hours, it reminds me of those that don’t have basic necessities like food and water and how grateful that I take something so small for granted. Water tastes so much better after being dehydrated for 16 hours!
- Charity: Muslims believe charity doesn’t decrease wealth but actually increases it. In this month, we give 2.5% of our earnings to charity. During Ramadan, I always look for causes that are dear to me, every year I support a charity called One Family who help to rehabilitate girls who are affected by human trafficking in and around Nepal. Charity can be in any form, whether it’s making someone smile, making someone happy, calling a friend and checking on them or just checking to see if your neighbours are ok.
- Forgiveness - Ramadan is often known as the month of mercy and the perfect time to ask for forgiveness to anyone you may have upset. It’s also the perfect time to forgive yourself and remind ourselves we are only human. 2020-2021 has been a difficult year for many, so it’s the perfect time to remind me that it’s ok sometimes not to be ok and that I am enough.
- Spirituality and hoping for a better future: During this month, Muslims spend as much time as possible asking God for whatever their heart desires. Muslims believe that God writes the next 12 months - so whether it’s that’s a promotion at work, staying healthy, or improving important relationships. This is the time to ask God for it. I spend most nights staying up until dawn developing my understanding of Islam and spending time quality time with family.
What does Fasting do to your body?
- Detoxifying: Abstaining from food for hours is a great way to cleanse the body improving the function of the organ whilst promoting a cleansed digestive system, removing harmful toxins from the body and improving blood circulation.
- Improved immune system: Fasting promotes healing in the body, when you stop eating the body gets to work on focusing on other areas of the body applying focus to its immune system and metabolism vs focusing on digestion. The immune system is mostly made up of white blood cells and fasting encourages your body to recycle any old white blood cells which result in a healthy immune system.
- Mental Health: Fasting is also known to sharpen focus, improve productivity and provide mental clarity driven by the reduction of calories, sugar and salt in your body.
THE FASTING PROCESS
Phase 1: The cleansing process
The first few days, your blood sugar levels and blood pressure drop which makes these days quite hard, I tend to get headaches and the hunger pain is strong.
Phase 2: The repair process
Your body starts to get used to the fasting process, your digestive system is starting to rest ( as you’re not eating as much). The digestive system then focuses on cleansing the body and starts to heal the white blood cells become more active.
Phase 3: The healing process Energy levels start to improve, your mind starts to get sharper and the healing process is working more efficiently as the body repairs damaged cells. At this time, the colon, kidney and skin are eliminating toxins. For me, I find every year my skin massively improves any hyperpigmentation on my face and I see a massive difference in tone.
Working out during Ramadan
Working out during Ramadan is still possible! I limit my usual cardio during this month to prevent too much burn out and exerting too much energy during the day. I tend to do light work during the day and I’m feeling energetic. I'll switch to higher intensity workouts only after I break my fast. Yoga tends to be my go-to exercise during Ramadan.
My go-to TALA fits when fasting during Ramadan
Have you got friends that are fasting?
- Wish them, Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak
- Some may be alone this year due to lockdown restrictions, check on them and see how they are
- Eating and drinking in front of us - don’t worry it doesn’t make us hungry, but try not to where possible.