By: Haris Saleem, Trainee Solicitor
As we near the end of the second full week of Ramadan, I thought it would be a great opportunity to provide an insight into what it is like to be a Muslim fasting during the month of Ramadan.
To many, Ramadan may seem like a month where Muslims fast for 30 days and enjoy nice meals after the fast. However, Ramadan is much more than this. It is an opportunity for Muslims to reflect on their lives, improve their spirituality and strengthen their faith and connection with God.
This article shows how I spend my day as a Muslim trainee solicitor during the month of Ramadan.
7:30am: My day typically starts at 7:30am on the days when I work in the office. On the days where I work from home under the firm’s flexible working policy, I get an extra hour’s sleep (which is certainly welcomed due to the long nights during Ramadan).
8:00am: I travel into the office by car and take a short walk across the River Clyde. The views from our Glasgow office and whilst walking to the office certainly provide motivation for the day.
9:00am: I start my working day by having a Teams call with the team. My morning workload can vary from having internal meetings and client calls to focusing on client work.
1:30pm: I take my lunch break at 1:30pm to allow me to walk to Glasgow Central Mosque to pray Zuhr, which is the second prayer of the day. Spending time in the mosque provides a sense of spirituality and provides an opportunity to build my connection with God.
2:00pm: I return to the office and my afternoon workload will consist of client meetings and client work such as drafting terms and conditions and reviewing various contracts. This is the point in the day where the belly starts to rumble and my mouth becomes dry. Despite this, by taking breaks from my computer screen and walking during my lunch break, I am able to keep focused and complete my tasks for the day.
In previous years, Ramadan would be in peak summer months and the high temperatures often lead to dehydration and fatigue. Therefore, I am sure I speak for a lot of Scottish Muslims when I say the gloomy Scottish weather is a welcomed sight (which isn’t said often).
5:45pm: I finish work and travel back home. When I get home, I pray Asr, which is the third prayer of the day. This is where tiredness and fatigue start to kick in and I use the time in between finishing work and the fast opening to rest either by having a quick nap or unwinding by watching a show or film.
7:45pm: I travel to my local mosque where I open my fast and read Maghrib, the fourth prayer of the day, and Isha, the fifth prayer of the day. By opening the fast in the mosque, it provides me with an opportunity to spend time with those in the community and celebrate this blessed month with others. I also pray Taraweeh which is a longer prayer as the leader of the prayer will recite one chapter of the Quran during the prayer each night.
11:45pm: After praying Taraweeh, I make my way to the gym. Although many may consider the gym to be unnecessary and contribute to tiredness and fatigue, I find that the gym helps reduce stress and certainly helps with falling asleep when I get home.
1:00am: I return home, shower and head to bed. I try and get approximately two hours of sleep before waking up for the morning meal, although there may be days where I stay up to reflect and read portions of the Quran (and maybe watch some basketball, which unfortunately in the UK is usually televised in the early hours of the morning).
3:45am: I wake up and enjoy the morning meal. This meal will vary day-to-day from a breakfast bar or some fruit to having a full breakfast. Coco Pops is certainly a favourite of mine, although its nutritional value remains questionable. Keeping hydrated is also important, hence I try to drink around 1 litre of water during the morning meal before the fast starts.
4:30am: I pray Fajr, which is the first prayer of the day. As I often have little time between finishing work and the fast opening, especially where I am napping in between, I try to use any extra time in between eating and praying Fajr to read a portion of the Quran.
4:45am: Sleep (finally!)
…. and repeat!
Commonly Asked Questions
Are you allowed to drink water?
In short, no. One of the purposes of Ramadan is to teach self-control which includes refraining from food and drink (water included).
What is the best part about Ramadan?
Being able to build on my connection with my faith and strengthen my spirituality is the best part of Ramadan. With friends, family, members of the community, and people all over the world striving for the same goal during this blessed month, there is real drive to achieve these goals.
What is the hardest part about Ramadan?
For me, the hardest part about Ramadan is adjusting to a new sleeping pattern. Outside of Ramadan, I will sleep from 12:00am to 7:00am but during Ramadan, I often sleep from 1:45am to 3:30am and 4:45am to 7:30am.
How much food do you eat after opening the fast?
Typically, I start off by opening my fast with a date and water. After praying Maghrib prayer, I then have my dinner as I would any other normal day. I then usually have one more meal in the morning before going to bed such as cereal, toast, fruit, eggs, and plenty of water.
Does it get easier?
Many Muslims will experience difficulties with the first few fasts. Adjusting to spending most of the day without food and drink can take some time. Even after fasting for around 10 years, I still find the first couple of fasts to be harder than the rest (certainly not to say the rest are easy!). However, as the days progress your body becomes used to the conditions and the fasts reduce in difficulty – I certainly hope so anyway.
Ramadan is a blessed month for Muslims all around the world. It is not just a month of no food and drink for a portion of the day, it is an opportunity for Muslims to build on their connections with their faith and increase their spirituality. Whilst the days can be long and tiring, the rewards are like no other which is why Muslims strive during this month strive to do good deeds and increase their faith.
For non-Muslims, this is an excellent opportunity to find out more about Ramadan and I would encourage anyone who is curious or has any questions about this month to reach out to Muslim colleagues and friends to find out more!