Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. This period of time (29 to 30 days) is considered holy as the month in which god revealed the first verses of the Quran to the prophet Mohammed. According to the Quran, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained”, and so, this is a time to be more virtuous and focused on the community’s well-being.
The beginning date for the Ramadan is actually a bit complex since the Islamic faith uses a different calendar (The lunar calendar). Because of this, the precise dates need to be announced every year (as most people don’t follow this calendar very frequently). This year, Ramadan will star in May 15 and will end in June 14.
During this month, several things are expected from all faithful. Several sacrifices are part of the process to demonstrate discipline, an important part of virtuosity. One of the main ones is fasting between sunrise (Sahar) and sunset (Iftar). Many other smaller sacrifices are common; however, this is the most formal and popular.
Considering Pakistan summers are very hot and fasting makes people more vulnerable to dehydration, special considerations should be taken to avoid heat-related illnesses.
The Ramadan comes with several temporal commitments for those who follow the Quran that every individual should know.
Businesses reduce their work hours, especially in countries where Islam is the main religion. This is done to help those fasting to keep being productive while respecting their faith and the limits of their bodies during this period. Businesses with 6 days/week schedules, will temporarily adjust to working from 8 AM to 1 PM (8 AM to 12 PM on Fridays), while businesses with 5 days/week will adjust to working from 8 AM to 2 PM (8 AM to 1 PM on Fridays). Schools will probably remain open until the first half of the holy month.
Drinking or eating in public or outside designated areas is generally considered as impolite for those who are fasting. In general, during Ramadan, eating inside your house is the best option. Eating with moderation is also recommended.
Those who are ill or those too old are also exempt from fasting. Sick people can become too weak if they don’t eat normally and should NOT fast. The elderly (65 and up) can choose to fast, but this should not be expected from them as they can suffer great consequences due to their already deteriorated condition.
More time should be dedicated to pray and less to other activities that may distract you from worship.
During Ramadan, overeating at night is quite common. Naturally, this is not the best behavior, but no specific kind of food is really prohibited. As Ramadan advances, you’ll experience changes related to your eating habits, eventually you’ll adjust to not eating during the day if your diet is nutritious enough and your metabolic needs are met.
There are well-documented cases of people actually becoming healthier during Ramadan, sugar levels go down and healthy cholesterol goes up. So, one should try to follow the tips for spending healthy Ramadan to avoid weight gain and other health issues.
Water Intake in Summer
It is no secret that summer can be very hot in Pakistan, temperatures can reach over 50OC, this complicates things.
Fasting during Ramadan by itself does not cause people to have dangerously low levels of hydration during the day, however, that, combined with scorching heat can put some people in risk.
Fasting + High temperatures is a dangerous combination, it can lead to possible cognitive and physical impediments as only 1-2% water loss is problematic. If you are not able to consume large amounts of water at night, then staying cool must be a part of your plans for Ramadan.
Please, be aware for the symptoms of dehydration:
Less frequent urination
Best Choices for Sahar
You need to prioritize nutrition. Foods rich in fluids, high-fiber meals, oats, porridge, cereals, rice, couscous, yogurt and bread are excellent choices. These will get you through the day.
Best Choices for Iftar
For Iftar, you need to regain strength and replenish your fluids. Is important for you to drink lots of water (milk is also a good option), fruits and soup. A perfect guiding principle is: “Nutrition is more important than comfort”.
We hope that these ideas can help you have a prosperous, healthy and fulfilling Ramazan spiritually.