So far, I've spent a lot of time talking about why I fast during Ramadan and the purpose of Ramadan. I also touched on what is included when fasting. So I figured it's time to give you a peek at an average day of fasting for me. So let's dive right in.
I always make sure to wake up in the morning well before the sun begins to rise to make sure that I have time to grab something to eat and drink some water. But also, more importantly, I have a prescription that I have to take first thing in the morning. It's also something that I can't take with food. It has to be on an empty stomach. So I set my alarm to wake myself up about an hour before the sun will begin to rise. In addition to taking this medication on an empty stomach, I also have to wait awhile before I can eat anything. So while I wait, I usually take this time to drink a lot of water.
After I've waited long enough, I grab a bite to eat. How much I wind up eating varies depending on how hungry I am. If I've had a lot to eat the night before, I typically only eat something light. But if I wake up fairly hungry, I'll have a bigger meal to make sure I don't get too hungry throughout the day. I try to drink a lot of water without making myself feel sick. When it comes to fasting, the point isn't to gorge yourself on food and drink so much water that you feel sick. It's not meant to be going between two extremes. That would be a major shock on your body. So within my window of time to eat and drink, I try to be mindful of drinking enough and yet not too much.
Once I'm finished eating, I'll go and brush my teeth and make wudu (ablution Muslims do before praying). I honestly have my morning down to such a routine that by this time, I usually have another 10-15 minutes to spare before I officially start fasting. So what I do with that time is that I do an extra prayer called tahajjud. This is also known as the night prayer and is not obligatory. Typically by the time I am finished, it's right around the time for the call to prayer for the fajr, or dawn prayer. This will not only signify that it's time for the fajr prayer, but this also marks the start of the fast for the day. So I will pray the fajr prayer and relax a little while before going back to sleep.
I typically wake up by about mid morning. I may spend some time relaxing or if it is a work day, I typically start getting ready for work right away. For work, I not only pack a meal for when I break my fast, but I also make sure to bring a couple of dates to break my fast with (breaking your fast with a date is recommended, but not obligatory), a full bottle of water, and I brew coffee that I bring with me in a thermos to keep it warm.
For some, during the day they will spend time reading Quran, but I've found that I really struggle to read Quran during the day. I've found that while I'm fasting, I don't retain what I'm reading. So it winds up being empty words. So I prefer to save reading Quran for the evening after I've had some food and I'm no longer fasting. I've found that I retain so much more of what I'm reading and understand so much more. I have a greater take away by reading Quran in the evening. So when I'm not working, I spend a lot of my day time resting. I tend to get tired while I'm fasting, So if I'm home, I usually take a nap at some point during the day. But otherwise I do little things around my apartment that I need to get done.
Another thing I like to do on my days off in my down time is to listen to different talks that are recorded. Due to our current quarantine situation, there are so many new videos going up every single day that are recorded by the mosque and other various religious leaders that I can choose from. I enjoy these kinds of things while I'm fasting because it's something I can enjoy and get a great take away from while not trying to focus on reading. The other thing that happens during this middle of the day are two more prayers. There is the dhuhr, or mid day prayer, followed by the asr, or mid afternoon prayer.
After the asr prayer is when I typically will start to plan and working on what I'm going to eat that evening. I try to keep my meals fairly simple so I don't exhaust myself cooking while I'm fasting. But some days it's also nice to go all out.
One thing I've also noticed when I'm at work is that around this time of day, I find that I'm absolutely freezing. I can't remember this happening in past years, but the weather lately has been cooler. So maybe that's why? Either that or I never noticed it before. But it's always around asr time that I feel like my fingers are icicles and I just want to wrap myself up in a warm blanket. But I don't dare wear warmer clothes to work because once I finish eating in the evening, I'm roasting for the rest of the night. Some days I feel like I'm absolutely sweating. Like I said before, I never noticed this before this year, but it happens every day when I'm at work like clockwork.
And that brings is to just about maghrib (sunset) time. These two situations look wildly different depending on if I'm at home or if I'm at work. So let's start with maghrib time at work.
Since I'm fasting, I push my break back to maghrib time. By the time of night, I'm the only one in my area still around, so it's a lot easier for me to manage taking my break at this time rather than coordinate with another person. Leading up to maghrib, I try to get as much work done as possible so I can relax while I eat. If I'm running behind, I usually scramble and eat quickly. But I prefer to take my time. I also try to bring cold food so I can keep it in our fridge in our pharmacy so I don't have to worry about heating it up. I make my way back into the pharmacy just before maghrib and pull out my food. Once the call to prayer goes off, I break my fast with a date and pray the maghrib prayer right away. When I'm finished praying, I sit down to eat the food that I've brought, have some water, and enjoy my coffee.
Now on days that I'm home, that whole time looks different. Leading up to maghrib, I'm typically finishing up cooking. If I've cooked earlier, I'm usually heating up the food that I have. Just before it's time to eat, I bring my food to my table and get everything settled. I also get my coffee pot set up and ready to brew. Once the call to prayer goes off, I break my fast with a date and a sip of water. From there, I go and pray. Once I'm finished praying, I usually start my coffee pot so that by the time I'm finished eating, I have hot coffee ready to go. And from there, I sit and relax and enjoy my meal. I don't have the pressure to get back to work, so I can take my time and enjoy myself. When I've finished cleaning up, I pour myself a cup of coffee. While the coffee in the evening helps prevent a caffeine headache, it also feels a bit like a little reward that I give myself for making it through the day fasting.
When I'm at work, I jump right back into work when I'm finished eating. But when I'm at home, this is the time that I sit down with my Quran and start to read and take in everything that is written. After a filling meal and some coffee, I feel refreshed and ready to focus. I try to keep my phone on silent to eliminate distractions while I read and let myself be fully immersed in what I'm reading. I take a break from it when it's time for the isha, or evening prayer. As I said in my last post, the late evenings and the early mornings are the times that I love the most. It's the time when I can really focus and free myself of distractions. It's the time when I have the most take away from the Quran that I'm reading and it's the time when I feel the most clear minded to make these blog posts. And from there, I head to bed when I get sleepy. And the next morning, I start it all over again.
At this point in my life, I am not married and I don't have children. I live alone and that allows for me to create my own schedule and routine for things like Ramadan. So after having done this for a few years now, it's like second nature to me. Everyone's Ramadan looks different. And I don't necessarily think that anyone has the "perfect" Ramadan routine. I don't know that any of us would even really know what the "perfect" Ramadan routine would be. But I think it's important to find what works best for yourself. And this is the routine that I follow and it's what works best for me.