Eid Mubarak, 2018

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Happy belated Eid!

As many of you might know a couple of days ago was the celebration (Eid) of the end of Ramadan. Ramadan for those who might not know, is a holy month in Islam where the revelation of the Quran was sent from God by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohamed (saw). During this month all Muslim are prescribed to fast from dusk to sunrise, abstaining from food, water,intercourse and provocative behavior during this period of time. Those who are sick, old, pregnant or nursing can opt out from fasting if one fears of his own health or the health of the baby. Those who cannot fast, should according to some Islamic scholars feed the poor for everyday of not fasting and if your reason not to fast is due to pregnancy or nursing than making up the missing fast is also recommended at a later time. However, there are differences of opinions on how a breastfeeding/nursing women should complete her missing fast, so I would make your own research if that is something you are interesting in knowing more about.

In this month, all Muslims are encouraged to increase their prayers, recitation of Quran and overall spiritual level and relationship with Allah (God). Also, in this month it is better to give to charity, ask for God’s forgiveness and His blessing and conduct good morals and overall behavior. However, being a mother of multiple little ones, all of the extra worshiping that should be done in this month can be a bit intimidating since we are already cramped for time. This is why I came to write this post to encourage us mommies and give tips and tricks, that I hope can be useful to you for your next Ramadan. As a nursing mother, I was scared of the impacts that fasting might have on my baby. I had concerns on whether the baby would loose weight or worst if my milk supply would finish.

The age of your nursing baby should be the first step on deciding whether to fast or not. My youngest was 9 months and I personally felt comfortable to fast as she is eating and drinking liquids. On the other hand if your baby is younger, feeding on demand and not eating, it would have been a serious factor on whether or not you would want to fast. With that said, there are people who still fast and are nursing their newborn. Personally, I found that fasting with babies that are 6 months or younger is harder on the mother but the baby will be fine. With all the research that I gathered from scientific to experience is that the milk will adjust to the fasting and will not impact your baby. With that said, mothers are the best of judge, so be super alert and attentive to ones body is the key. What I would recommend is to fast a couple of days before Ramadan to see how your body and baby reacts to the fasting.

Let’s say you are a nursing mother who has decided to fast and you and your baby are completely healthy than keep reading for some tips I have gathered that will help you throughout your fast.

First tip I would suggest, is regarding time. How can you use your time wisely? What are some things I can do to give more time to read the Quran and make extra efforts in Ramadan?

  1. Cut out social media platforms. If you are like me, I used to spend time looking through my Instagram while nursing. During Ramadan what I used to do instead was reading the translation of the Quran on my phone while nursing and I was able to finish the whole translation.
  2. When kids are playing and distracted try to read 1-2 pages of the Quran in Arabic (if you know how), at a time.
  3. Plan your iftar (breaking of the fast) ahead of time.
  4. Stalk up on groceries, especially during the first week where your body is still adjusting to the fast.
  5. Make goals for Ramadan. What would you like to accomplish and reflect on how that could be done throughout the month?
  6. Organize your house so it can be more efficient and less time consuming.
  7. Go out, don’t stay at home but do activities where the kids can play and you can sit down and retain some energy while you supervise, like the park.
  8. Change your kids bed time to later at night, so you don’t have to wake up super early. If you kids are older, you can wake them up to eat suhoor (breakfast) before dawn and they can try to fast with you ( all depends on the kid’s age).
  9. Make sure you nap at some point in the day, especially if you live in hot areas like Egypt, the heat and sun can have a big toll on you if you do not rest properly.

The next couple of tips are related to nutrition, how to eat well and stay hydrated.

  1. Never, never, never miss suhoor (breakfast before dusk). I know when you were young, you could sleep through Ramadan without waking up for suhoor but as a nursing mother that is impossible. Put 2, 3 alarm clocks if you have to, in order to be on the safe side.
  2. Eat suhoor with protein dense food. My suhoor would be something like; eggs, fool (egyptian beans) with bread, homemade granola that I made with oats, nuts, seeds and raisins on yogurt. Believe it or not that kept me very full throughout most of the day because of all the protein and fiber.
  3. This should be a no brainer but still people can undermine it, is drinking enough water. Being hydrated is the key to fasting while nursing. We are not our young teenage selves anymore and taking care of our bodies is a necessity
  4. Don’t forget your vitamins. I would take my multi vitamins in the morning for suhoor and calcium vitamins for iftar (dinner).

The next several tips are about refining a deeper connection and relationship with God especially during the month of Ramadan.

  1. Pre-plan what you want to achieve during Ramadan. For me, I wanted to finish reading the Quran either it would be in the English translation or the Arabic.
  2. I wanted to get the most out of Ramadan, so I disconnected mostly from social media and social outings.
  3. I wanted to make dawah (invitation) towards Islam. I spoke highly and passionately about Islam but most importantly, I wanted to encompass the examples I was preaching.
  4. I wanted to pray as much as possible, so I made sure I prayed the sunnah and taraweh prayer.
  5. Reciting the Quran was a prominent goal of mine during Ramadan.
  6. Making du’a and dikhr at all times.
  7. Paying close attention to my conduct being reflecting on my flaws and how I can work towards change.
  8. Increasing my knowledge in my faith in all type of aspects such as learning Arabic, memorizing the Quran and listening to lectures.

This was all possible only by prioritizing what was most important for me to accomplish during the month of Ramadan. I cut out the hours I was wasting in social media and watching tv. I also disconnected from my social atmosphere. I wanted to focus mainly on accomplishing all that I wanted for Ramadan and anything else could wait afterwards. I also redefined what I wanted to accomplish after Ramadan. Self growth was a huge goal of mine in the month, trying to pay close attention to my conduct and developing healthy habits. If you are like me, with little kids, nursing and wanting to have a deep connection with God in Ramadan than know that it’s ok to change the rules in your household, for example, letting your kids watch a little bit more t.v so you can concentrate properly in your prayer or rejuvenating your energy by taking a nap. This month is not about spending all day long in the kitchen so it’s totally acceptable to eat left overs and ask for help from your spouse and relatives if you feel like you cannot manage a proper iftar.

I hope all our prayers, fast, du’ah and extra efforts get accepted. I hope Allah alleviates all our hardships and blesses with ease. May He forgives us for our sins and shortcoming and may He keep us in the right path. May we see another blessed Ramadan! Ameen.

 

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Charity in Egypt During Ramadan

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Ramadan is a holy month where Muslim abstain from eating and drinking from early dawn to sunset, while replenishing spiritually. However, the month entails many other acts of worship, one being giving charity to the ones in need. Giving charity or zakat ( in Arabic) is a key component of acts of worship, it keeps one centered in this life and it increases your modesty. In Islam, a smile is considered charity which allows even the poor to practice this charitable act.

Muslims all over the world are especially generous during the month of Ramadan. In the west, many Muslim either donate money towards charity facilities that they deem fond of. Others, give out their service by volunteering their times and efforts in shelters or giving out iftar (the break of fast) in local mosques. In Egypt, however, people make charity very personal. People collect the most popular items in an Egyptian cuisine and give out to people they know are in need.

In the grocery stores you have an abundance of people trying to bulk on the essentials such as rice, pasta, sugar, flour, lentils and much more and giving out to family members, neighbors, people that perform daily labor services such as the trash collector, bus driver, housekeepers and others. Although giving charity to facilities and giving out iftar in mosques are other methods that Egyptian engage during the month of Ramadan. The most popular method of charity is very personal and is the act of knowing exactly where the charity is benefiting.

Another aspect that I found interesting in Egypt is that everyone is so excited to give whatever they can towards charity. There is an assurance that whatever effort is exhorted towards giving out, God will reward and give tenfold. People also never forget the acts of kindness done towards them. It is not unusual to hear supplications for good rewards in the name of the one who gives.

Ramadan is a month where people in general try to practice the act of good character. Today, I met a Christian Egyptian who told me that she loved Ramadan because people are simply happy. She said it all, people who hear about the sacrifice of fasting without food and water usually cannot fathom the happiness and joy that Muslim have for Ramadan.

Ramadan Kareem!

 

 

Ramadan Series-Day 17

I used to roll my eyes upon hearing my friends telling stories of Ramadan in their home countries. Part of my attitude was due to ignorance, not knowing what Ramadan was like in a Muslim country. The other was triggered by jealously upon hearing stories about family gatherings and traditions that I was not able to create with my non Muslim family.

This is my second Ramadan in Egypt and I must say that my friends were right, celebrating this month in a Muslim country is very different than in the United States. However, there are both cons and pros being in these two countries during the holy month.

Pros of Ramadan in Egypt;

  • The whole country evolves around this month. People are able to go to work a little later and/or come home early to break their fast. Image result for ramadan in egypt
  • The streets are lighten with Ramadan decorations.
  • After breaking the fast, the streets are filled with excitement and movement.
  • Eating many traditional foods and sweets
  • People are more prosperous towards each other. This month is also a great month for giving charity. Therefore, people make a great effort to feeding the poor, giving money to beggars and donate unwanted stuff.
  • There is less chaos during the hours of fasting.
  • Family/friends visiting each other to break the fast together.
  • Three days off to celebrate the end of Ramadan

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Cons of Ramadan in Egypt:

  • The daily routines get thrown out of the window. People stay up in the late hours at night and wake up super late.
  • The heat is beyond unbearable.
  • People tend to eat a lot and unhealthy during this month defeating the purpose of eliminating excess consumption and building empathy for those who do not have food to eat on a daily basis.
  • There is a stigma for eating in public for the people that exempt from fasting, for example, if you are a pregnant woman, breastfeeding mother, sick, on the menstruation cycle or even a Christian it is very hard to eat in public without judgment.
  • As a woman, you are not able to assist the Friday prayer and the extra prayer at the mosque

Pros of Ramadan in United States:

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  • Routine, the fact that it is Ramadan does not change the daily duties and responsibilities that need to be preformed. Although, the country does not change to support the Muslims during this month, actually can have great benefits, such as being organized on what you need to do towards your Islamic practices throughout the day and how one is going to accomplish the goals one sets for himself during this month.
  • Getting invited to friend’s house and enjoying a different culture and traditions while breaking the fast.
  • Going to the mosque and praying the extra prayer as a woman.
  • More changes to demonstrate Islam in a positive away and break the misconceptions seen in the media. Image result for ramadan in united states
  • No judgment if a Muslim is walking down the street holding a cup of coffee.

Cons of Ramadan in the United States:

  • No understanding from your job if you all the sudden are less productive and tired at work.
  • Breaking the fast during break time which sometimes consist of a 30 minute break, where we have to eat, drink and pray.
  • Life doesn’t stop in this month so if one is not organized, one can loose many opportunities for extra good deeds, charity and prayers.
  • No payed holiday for celebrating the end of Ramadan unless one uses his own vacation or personal time.
  • Not hearing the call for prayer and enjoying the Quran being recited in the streets.
Disclaimer:These are my personal experiences in both of the countries during Ramadan. It isn’t by any means a whole representation each of these countries.

P.S: I would love to hear what Ramadan is like where you live. Comment down bellow, where you are currently living and what are your Ramadan traditions.