5 Ramadan Hacks to Improve Your Fasting Experience

This article is dedicated to my fellow Muslim readers who are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan. Below, I have compiled a list of five useful hacks to better your Ramadan experience, especially as we approach the last ten days- the most blessed segment of the month. 


1) Have porridge and watermelon for Suhoor:

This hack is immensely beneficial. For Suhoor, I usually have a bowl of porridge, followed by a handful of berries and a few slices of watermelon. I then take two iron supplements with two glasses of water. Porridge has numerous benefits; it sustains me throughout the day, as it is very filling, and (being an excellent source of carbohydrates) releases bouts of energy throughout the day, thus ensuring continued optimal brain activity. Watermelon has similar benefits. This particular fruit is extremely hydrating, as 92% of it is water.

2) Set an alarm for each prayer:

Aim to pray on time; set an alarm for each prayer on your phone. You can even customise the sound to make the Adhan play for each prayer. After Salah, read a few pages of the Qur’an. Bear in mind that during this holy month, the rewards for each good deed are multiplied by 70- do not waste this opportunity!

3) Alter your timetable:

Daily life does not simply stop for Ramadan. We are still expected to work, sit exams and carry on with life as usual. That being said, due to Taraweeh, Suhoor and Tahajjud prayers, even the best of us can become sleep deprived during this time. Sleep deprivation has numerous detrimental effects on health, so should be avoided at all costs. The average human being requires approximately seven hours of sleep per night, but this can be divided into portions. During Ramadan, it is a good idea to have a long nap after Zuhr (i.e. after school), work at a leisurely pace between Asr and Maghrib, then carry on working until Fajr.

4) Make a good deed checklist:

Ramadan is, by far, the best time of the year to rack up on good deeds. To ensure that you use this time wisely, why not make a good deed checklist? After Fajr, make a list of good deeds you can do throughout the day. These can include smiling at people, helping an elderly person, giving charity and learning more about the faith by studying Hadiths.

5) Do Wudhu with cold water:

Going for hours on end without any renewed sources of energy can result in fatigue and lack of productivity, but this does not have to be the case. Cold water is a very effective way to wake you up, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be drunk in order to do so. Washing your face, forearms and other body parts with cold water during Wudhu can stimulate blood flow and wake you up instantly.

I hope these hacks will prove useful for you, and I pray that you enjoy and benefit from these last ten days as much as possible.


Sadia Ahmed, 2016

Swiss Cheese and Baguettes

From Friday 13th to Sunday 15th November, my family and I enjoyed a splendid weekend break to Saint Louis in France (near the French-Swiss border) after only a week or so of planning. In my view, spontaneous trips are by far the best kind, and are often cheaper than all-inclusive trips during the school holidays, when airport queues are longer, the activities on offer are far too cliche, and having an adventure is simply not an option. 

 

I apologise for the delay in posting this article. Recently, I have been immensely preoccupied with exam revision, homework and coursework. Education is, no doubt, an intrinsically beautiful thing, however stress is an inevitable product of it.

I have decided to use a slightly different layout for this article; I shall share with you a handful of edited excerpts from my journal:

12/11/15: Tomorrow, at 4:00, we shall leave for Switzerland. I am experiencing some mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, I am very excited to learn more about another part of the world- about the landscape, customs and people of Switzerland. On the other hand, I am terrified. According to numerous online reports, Islamophobia is widely prevalent there.

13/11/15 7:18: We are all aboard the plane. Getting here has been a predictably unpleasant experience. Flying with Ryanair has, so far, been a worse one. Many of the staff members were alarmingly rude. For example, when my necklace triggered the metal detector, the woman at Security remarked, in a very impudent manner, “That’s a surprise”.

Additionally, when we told the lady at the departure gate that my aunt has severe learning disabilities, and so is unable to respond to her questions, she said, without a shred of consideration, “So what? You understand, don’t you?”.

Tutting is the language of Ryanair staff.

11:13: We have rented a car from Sixt, and are attempting to configure the Sat-Nav, whose display settings are currently set to French.

12:48: We are eating at a kebab shop- Kebab de l’Europe. Saint Louis is absolutely beautiful. Contrary to my own prejudices, the people here are so very amicable and jovial. I may be generalising here, but the people of Saint Louis are far more courteous than the people of East London!

19:22: The ‘Aparthotel’ is very homely and pleasant.

For lunch, I enjoyed an oversized Margherita pizza. Then, for dinner, I rebelliously had a banana, two biscuits and a few brioche slices with chocolate spread, all of which I purchased earlier during our explorative walk around the town.

21:26: We have just returned from an evening vehicular cruise. We crossed the French-Swiss border and drove around Basel, Switzerland. We were fortunate enough to have seen the River Rhein- the very river that divides Germany, Switzerland and France.

For dinner, the sequel, I had noodles, which dad purchased from a nearby Japanese restaurant. I ate outside, on the balcony.

The streets of Basel are very different to the streets of Saint Louis, though both are astoundingly beautiful. The streets of Basel are a lot busier, and resemble the frenetic streets of London a lot more.

Today, it is Friday the thirteenth, but (save from my Ryanair experience) I’ve had an ironically pleasant day. Dad has been experiencing some difficulty adapting to the different road rules here. He is finding avoiding collisions with trams the most difficult aspect of driving here to overcome.

14/11/15 9:40: We are at Basel zoo. For breakfast, I made myself some instant porridge. As I sat down to eat, I noticed that my mum was watching the news on TV with a worried facial expression: yet another terrorist attack has taken place in Paris. Government officials suspect that ‘Islamist’ militants were behind the attacks. I am terrified.

Mum is fearful of the potential backlash that Muslims in France and Britain will undoubtedly face.

11:26: Our trip to the zoo was very enjoyable, though the animals all looked severely malnourished in comparison to those in London zoo. Seeing the lethargic animals made me ponder on the notion of freedom.

We are now at a Turkish restaurant- Yasar Imbiss- in Basel. After lunch, while everyone else finished their meals, I played football outside with the owner’s son, Ali.

16:00: We are currently aboard a train, going halfway up the tallest mountain in Europe. I love train journeys, and I love mountains. My heart is content.

16:54: Earlier, Sweetie and I went hiking.  It is very cold, but we are warming ourselves up with some hot beverages at a mountain lodge. The atmosphere of this place is replete with rustic charm. The sun is setting, and I honestly cannot put into words how majestic this view is.

23:o1: At roughly 20:30, we returned to the hotel. After having an invigorating shower, I checked my Twitter newsfeed. In the wake of the the aforementioned terror attacks, some people are denigrating all Muslims! I firmly believe that, in order to eradicate such global cancers, we must all  (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) stand together. ISIS does not represent me, and it never will.

I am absolutely, categorically in love with Switzerland and its people. Wow.

 

 

 

 

Steaks and Salads

TODAY I vowed to abstain from steaks and other poisonous (though delicious) samples of junk food. My reason for this sudden and surprising change is due not to self-consciousness and an overwhelming desire to be as skinny as a twig: nay, I simply wish to evade and significantly reduce the risk of having severe health issues in the future.

I made this decision after seeing my uncle Safwan after a while: he is younger than me by a month, though way taller. Recently, he decided to go on a diet- or rather, a fitness regime, as he likes to call it. Safwan was once one of those people who’d have third, sometimes fourth, helpings of food for dinner. Now, he only eats peanuts, salads and fruit. At first, I was appalled. 

We went ice-skating today, and Safwan came along. After skating for twenty minutes or so, we stopped at Tesco, in order to purchase a few drinks and snacks for the journey home. While the rest of us indulged in Oreos, Galaxy bars and Lucozade, Safwan bought water. A teenager going to Tesco to purchase water. I laughed at him, and (waving my chocolate bar tauntingly in his face) asked whether he’d like a salad with that. 

Later on, we had lunch at a grill restaurant. I enjoyed buffalo wings and steak chips, and even assisted my cousins in finishing their meals. Meanwhile, Safwan ate one piece of grilled chicken with an abundance of salad. Suddenly, I realised that, however delicious junk food may be, our bodies are temples, and deserve nutritious foods. It was after that highly-fulfilling meal that I became determined to eat healthy, and perhaps engage in some strenuous physical activity every once in a while. 

To test my own commitment, during dinner with my father and his friend, I ordered a Greek salad and mango smoothie. This was the ultimate test for me; I am usually a girl who’d favour steaks over anything, and my father had taken us to a steak-house of all places. I forced the salad down my throat at first, but later began to enjoy it, at least relatively. I resisted the urge to eat anything detrimental, but then gave in to the temptation of steak chips, but only a few. 

Right now, I feel absolutely great; I wonder whether this feeling will last.

© Sadia Ahmed 2015