Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The sacred month of Ramadan is less than a month away. Ramadan is referred to as a holy month in the Islamic calendar with many significant events occurring during this sacred month such as the revelation of the Quran. Moreover, Muslims around the globe will begin to prep themselves to fast as a way to gain greater taqwa or God-consciousness.
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” (Al-Quran 2:183)
But what non-Muslims don’t realize is that Ramadan is actually so much more than just Muslims refraining from eating or drinking. Personally, this sacred month is a true test of spirituality, self-discipline, gratitude and empathy. Muslims are to distance themselves from worldly matters and cleanse their soul. They are encouraged to practise restraint and abstain from any sinful behaviour such as smoking and sexual relations.
During the fasting month, Muslims like myself wake up to have their sahur, the pre-dawn meal. Of course, this would be a struggle between wanting to snooze and fueling myself for the day. At sunset, Muslims would gather to have iftar, a fast-breaking meal. Just like many, I regard iftar as a time where the Ummah comes together whether it’s family, friends or community at large. To me, Ramadan is a time where I strengthen my relationship with God and my family as we would have iftar and perform tarawih prayers as a family.
Besides fasting, Muslims also strengthen their faith through prayer and charity. After breaking their fast and performing their compulsory prayers, Muslims are encouraged to partake in nightly prayers called terawih or tarawih. These prayers are prayed in a congregation at the mosque or homes and are only performed during Ramadan. Muslims, who can afford it, also emulate generosity and charity through zakat or sadaqah to the less fortunate.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I’ve roped in my HalalZilla team to find out how they observe Ramadan, the highs and lows they’ve experienced, and their #1 tip to Muslims for the upcoming fasting month.
As a Muslim, what’s your favourite “Ramadan” memory?
Staying up for suhoor with my cousins, as we were all pretty young and excited about learning to fast. – Sharifah Nur Afiqah, Content Strategist
The one Ramadan I will never forget is when I was going through my basic military training (during my National Service). It’s my favourite memory because not only did I enjoy it, but I felt that nothing could beat this hardship. – Syakir, Video Executive
My favourite Ramadan memory has to be the first time I did my terawih prayers at the mosque, Masjid Darul Ghufran. The feeling was indescribable because the Imam was extra emotional when he was reading certain verses. It was one of the most heartwarming moments in my life and I felt immense peace after that particular night. – Nur Sofia, Associate Editor
Ramadan is less than a month away. Do you do anything special to prepare yourself?
Hype myself up for the month ahead by creating a game plan in my head for the goals I’d want to achieve. – Sharifah Nur Afiqah, Content Strategist
I just mentally prepare my mind that the month’s routine will be a tad different, especially waking up for Sahur because I’m not quite a morning person. – Nur Sofia, Associate Editor
Hmm, not really. I guess I do try to go to bed earlier to escape my mother’s wrath when waking us up for sahur. – Sara Amira, Editorial Intern
Typically during Ramadan, the greatest challenge seems to forget about your hunger or thirst. But what other difficulties have you faced during Ramadan?
During Ramadan, sometimes I find it challenging to remain patient and be aware of the things that I say. Consistent effort is needed to ensure that you do your best to not say or do anything that might have an impact on your fast. As humans, sometimes our emotions get the better of us, especially when placed in a challenging situation. – Nur Sofia, Associate Editor
Fatigue and sleepiness. You won’t have much energy to function as per usual. Another would be waking up for sahur. Sometimes, sahur for me is just a cup of water which I will regret later in the day. – Syakir, Video Executive
Ramadan seems to a month when most Muslims “ground themselves”. Do you think Muslims should avoid travelling during the holy month?
Although I’ve never travelled during Ramadan, I think it’s incredibly beautiful to be able to experience this holy month in a foreign land. Different countries celebrate Ramadan differently and it will be interesting to soak up the festive vibes. Another plus point is the food of course! If you think Singapore’s bazaars are huge… I bet the ones in Malaysia are like mazes. – Nur Sofia, Associate Editor
Absolutely not. I never had a chance to travel during the Ramadan. But when the opportunity presents itself, I would. Maybe I would like to know what it’s like to fast in the North Pole when the days are shorter (laughs) – Syakir, Video Executive
As you’ve experienced many Ramadans, what’s your #1 tip to other Muslims this Ramadan?
Even though Ramadan comes every year, non-Muslims will always be curious about why we fast and ask the same questions again (laughs). I actually do like it when they ask though. I try to arm myself with little nuggets of information about Ramadan and fasting so that I can give a bit more comprehensive answers to my non-Muslim friends. You could do the same too! – Sara Amira, Editorial Intern
Enter the month of Ramadan with humility and challenge yourself this year to do something that you didn’t do last year; whether it’s donating food to the mosque for Iftaar or praying terawih for the full month. – Nur Sofia, Associate Editor
In essence, how is Ramadan special for you?
Ramadan has always been special to me as a time when I spend the most time with family — be it breaking fast together or preparing for Eid as a family. – Sharifah Nur Afiqah, Content Strategist
Ramadan is special because everyone is going through it differently. It can be similar but rarely the same. – Syakir, Video Executive
Ramadan is special to me simply because the atmosphere of the month is so different. It helps you to focus your time and energy on more significant things such as prayers and the act of fasting in itself. As a family, we’re a lot more bonded during this time of the year too and it adds to the overall experience. – Nur Sofia, Associate Editor
Complete this sentence: “To me, Ramadan is …”
To me, Ramadan is the one month that challenges you physically, spiritually and mentally. – Syakir, Video Executive
To me, Ramadan is care. I mean, people will still love and care in other months, but I feel that people put extra effort during this month. For example, putting in more care in the way you speak to others. – Sara Amira, Editorial Intern
To me, Ramadan is a time to reflect and focus on strengthening my faith. – Sharifah Nur Afiqah, Content Strategist