With the blessed month of Ramadhan upon us, this article hopes to serve not just as a reminder to ensure we make the most of this month but also as a means of servitude through advice in order to ensure we can gain not just spiritual healing and a greater sense of purpose and unity but also to ensure we gain the maximum physical benefits of this month too.

Now long before ‘detoxing’ or ‘intermittent fasting’ were hot topics in the health and fitness industry, Muslims have been fasting from dusk until dawn and reaping the benefits: a complete sense of rejuvenation of mind, body and soul.

First and foremost it is important to understand that whilst Ramadhan should not be seen merely as a means of losing weight; the prophet (SAW) states “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended”. So let us all ensure to correct our intentions and even if we do utilise Ramadhan as a means of improving our physical health we should do so with the intention of it creating a positive impact on our ibadah. As the better we feel physically, the more likely we are to have the physical and mental strength for greater ibadah.

Remember, any good action done for the sake of Allah is promised to be rewarded and the Prophet of Allah said “your body has a right over you” hence making sincere intention to utilise Ramadhan to improve your physical health alongside your spiritual health to then positively impact your prayers can, in fact, serve as a form of ibadah in itself!

Intermittent Fasting – The benefits:

This blessed month is bestowed upon us year after year, encasing an endless number of blessings and beauty for those who seek to find it and even for those of us, myself included, who don’t realise what our souls have yearned for. What many of us also don’t realise, however, is despite Ramadhan being a means of feeding our souls rather than our bodies, it also has several incredible health benefits.

Fasting has been proven to promote weight loss, to improve muscle building, focus and productivity. The list only seems to get better. Fasting has been scientifically proven to improve not just blood pressure but also cholesterol, insulin levels and heart disease. SubhanAllah!

Top 3 Tips and Tricks

Now, these may sound simple, but it is often the simplest of things that are the most rewarding. When it comes to fasting, this is certainly the case. Here are our top tips to ensure we all stay in the best of physical, mental and spiritual health:

1. Hydration!

Water is vital to the healthy functioning of our bodies, especially whilst fasting such long hours of the day. Aim for 2 – 2.5 litres of water between Iftar and Suhoor times. This may sound like a lot but is easily implemented and makes a huge difference! One of the easiest and highly recommended tips to improve your water consumption is to keep a water bottle with you between eating hours, in particular, beside your prayer mat whilst praying Taraweeh.
Alongside water, be sure to include foods high in water content, the celebrated watermelon is a perfect example, other fruits and vegetables high in water content would be cucumbers, apples, melons and berries.

2. Eat to fuel not to feed your body

For many of us, iftar is full of heavy, oily, carbohydrate-packed foods that leave us struggling to find room for our stomachs in sujood. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you, one I have implemented for the past three years myself is:
Cut out the fried food!

Now I understand I sound crazy, possibly even delirious to suggest such a thing, however, as someone who has stuck by this rule and reaped the benefits, I can only recommend this to you too. This doesn’t mean, however, that I eat less. If anything during Iftar and Suhoor I consume more than I ever did previously, what has changed however is the nutritional value of what I consume and the subsequent benefit these choices give me.

  • Choose ‘whole’ unprocessed foods – e.g. oats and cut out refined carbohydrates and sugars such as white bread, white pasta, fruit juices and energy drinks.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – Blueberries, Bananas, Watermelon etc.
  • Healthy Fats – Olive Oil, Avocados, Nuts.
  • Cut back on refined sugars – These do nothing but spike up your blood sugar levels only to then drop them leaving you feeling tired and lethargic.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee. These have more of a dehydrating effect on our bodies and limit our water retention levels.
3. Exercise

Arguably the hardest of these tips and tricks but certainly one of the most beneficial. Fasting is not a month of standstill for our regular activities, in fact we are told to continue with our lives as we are and although for some of us exercise is not a regular daily activity, it should be!

Exercise is essential to the healthy maintenance of our bodies. In a society that is now more sedentary than ever, how can we ensure we are giving our bodies everything that they need in order to keep ourselves fit and healthy?

We can prioritise our health; this again ties into intentions. I have often been reminded that the time I spend in the gym could be spent doing Ibadah instead. To which instead on a lengthy eyeroll (I’m tempted to do more often than I should) I simply respond the intention in my heart is between myself and Allah.

Staying healthy is essential. Giving your body attention is essential. Somehow these things are barely prioritised within Asian cultures, where we should be moving a lot and eating less, we are eating denser foods and doing minimal movement and whilst we are young we may be able to get away with this without it impacting our daily lives, however, the older we get the more likely we are to suffer from high blood pressure and cholesterol and even heart problems.

I would suggest at least 15 to 30 minutes of exercise daily which in retrospect to the amount of time we spend mindlessly scrolling through social media, is nothing at all.

That is it for the top three most essential tips to enjoying a healthier, happier Ramadhan. May Allah allow us all to live to experience many more of these blessed months, may He give us the strength and ability to embrace every day as a new opportunity to serve Him and His creation.

May He accept all of our efforts no matter how big or small, Ameen.
Ramadhan Kareem, dearest brothers and sisters x

-Aliyah Unia