My Annual Ramadan Journey by Hannatu Musawa

It’s that time of year again that I find to have so much meaning and beauty. To me Ramadan is so much more than fasting from dusk till dawn or feasting during Iftar. Not only is it a time when I endeavor to increase my Taqwa/Iman, become more charitable and strengthen my knowledge of the Holy Qur’an, it is also a time that I become closer to Allah and have a closer relationship with the Qur’an.

Many of us who celebrate Ramadan take journeys at this time of the year and this Ramadan I want to take a journey on how I can get the most benefit from the opportunity Ramadan affords me and I want to encourage anyone who wishes to come along on this journey in making this Ramadan one of great triumph and blessings.In my Ramadan journey this year as always, I wish to, first and foremost, give top priority to knowing and understanding the true contents and message of the Qur’an. And also, I wish to take a moment to reflect on which aspects of my life; my routine, attitude, personality or behavior I need to improve on and what my plans are for changing for the better and bringing myself closer to the Islamic standard.

An important part of this journey for me is to be as charitable as I can possibly be. When possible, every time I see people in anguish and poverty, every time my eyes fill with tears at the sight of senseless killings, blown up bodies, devastation and displacement of innocent people, I will open my purse and give charity. I will remember to forego some of my necessities in order to provide for those who are in more need than me. I will also opt not to spend money on frivolous things and luxuries so that those who are in more need than my family and I can be helped through my charity.

Insha Allah, in my journey, I will sleep early after praying Ishaa and Taraweeh and go to bed with a clear and conscious intention of fasting the next day. Then, I will get up well before Suhoor time thanking Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala for giving me life and then I hope to make special Du’aa for the mercy of Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala on our Ummah. From the start and right to the end of Ramadan, I will try not to sleep after Fajr, but instead study the Qur’an. In the last ten days of the Ramadan, I will go to bed with the intention of getting up early for Tahajjud prayers.

Throughout the day, for the duration of the Ramadan, I will find time to revise and re-learn the Soorahs and Aayaat I already know. Once that is completed, I will learn at least one Aayah a day from a Soorah that I do not already know.

Insha Allah, I will be extra kind, understanding, accepting, considerate and supportive to my non-Muslims friends and neighbours. I will listen to them, carry them along and find ways to have them participate in the blessings of Ramadan by sharing my food and gifts with them. I will counsel myself on my temperamental nature and strive to become calmer. I will try very hard to be forgiving to all those who have offended my family, my community and I. I will clear my heart from anger, suspicion and grudges.
For the full duration of the Ramadan, I will kick at least one of my bad habits and make a special effort to speak only to add value and to say only what is meaningful and useful. When I do not have anything useful to talk about, I will remember Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala through the beautiful and peaceful words taught by the Rasul (SAW), while paying attention to their meanings and feeling the impact of the words in my heart, my mind, my thoughts and my attitude.

Ramadan is a spiritual cleansing month not only for the soul but also for the body. It is said in a Hadith that the Prophet (SAW) said we should leave 1/3 of our stomach for water, 1/3 for air, and 1/3 for food.

Therefore, this Ramadan, in addition to my spiritual journey, I will be going on a health and weight loss one as well. While I embrace Ramadan for its spiritual benefits and all the positives that it represents, it really is an excellent opportunity to shed some extra weight. It can be very tempting to devour anything and everything edible during Iftar, but the tendency of this is putting on more weight than one had to begin with and becoming unhealthier.

When we fast, we are already resetting our metabolism by the protracted, long overnight fast, as well as the daily fasting. Our metabolism resets and our body begins to change the way it operates. There is no need to consume excess food at Iftar, dinner or Suhoor, but we usually do. And when we do that, our body thinks it is in a state of famine and will store everything we eat as fat, because it is worried about food supply.

Furthermore, eating once a day scares our body and our body starts to shut down and slow down our metabolism. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep us healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.
I know for me personally, each Ramadan in the past, I have always had a tendency to over eat during Iftar. But this year, I want to be disciplined, eat healthy, eat slowly, and practice constraint by ensuring the biggest part of my diet consists of green vegetables, green fruit and green juice. I know Ramadan is not about losing weight, but I would like to use this opportunity, to address my issue of gluttony and use control and constraint on what I eat.

If anybody wishes to follow my green food and juice diet plan and come on this health and weight loss journey with me, you are welcome to do so. I will post several recipes for making green juice on my Twitter Page at @hanneymusawa and my FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/hannatu.musawa and on my website on www.hanneymusawa.com.
However, while Ramadan is an excellent opportunity for overweight people to lose weight, please note that underweight or marginally normal weight people are discouraged from losing weight during Ramadan.

I also intend to dedicate my writing, articles and op-eds in the next four weeks of Ramadan, fully, to a series addressing a subject and area that I want to dedicate prayer and Du’a to. The 4-week series will be titled, ‘YA ALLAH, MY DU’A IS FOR…(FOLLOWED BY THE SUBJECT TO BE COVERED IN THAT WEEK).” I hope that others will join me in my prayer.

If, like me, you have decided to make this a meaningful and triumphant Ramadan by moving closer to Allah and identifying areas requiring improvement in your life, may Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala assist you and bless you for taking this step in your life.
If one can succeed this Ramadan in living as planned by the true tenants of the Quran, one will be able to look back and rejoice and feel inner joy and true happiness knowing that their Eid day will be the day of celebrating rewards from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala.
As we begin this journey for Ramadan, I wish each and every person welcoming this Ramadan a blessed, fruitful, safe and peaceful month. Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak!

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