Instead of Ramadan being a month of culinary restraint, many people actually put on weight during it.
Good morning dear brothers and sister, and I wish all of you a blessed month of Ramadan. In this article, I would like to talk about the blessings of this holy month and some of the ‘dos and don’ts’ during it.
The days of Ramadan are days of blessings, community and togetherness; a spiritual feast to replace the physical one of which we are deprived. Entirely understandable, we see Ramadan through a soft-focus lens: a time of exaltation, family togetherness, and spiritual pleasure in the face of physical pain. In forgetting the material burdens that only weigh us down, we are uplifted by the spirit into a stratosphere that is otherwise unimaginable. There is no doubt about the spiritual merits of Ramadan that Muslims recognize and share.
But it is no disrespect to the holy month if we recognize that our reality of Ramadan is not quite as picture-perfect as we like to portray it. Yes, we feel uplifted, and our sense of spirituality and community is irrepressibly heightened, but we must not airbrush out our less palatable behavior. It is time to tackle our Ramadan bad habits.
Women turn from already being hardworking wives and mothers into almost full-time chefs. We have high expectations of an amazing iftar evening after evening. Every food item we have craved over the previous 24 hours before iftar must materialize before us when it is time for it, and each person must have their tastes catered for.
Around the world this duty falls mostly on women. What a counter-intuitive result for Ramadan, that women spend more time cooking and toiling into the small hours doing food preparation. Perhaps we can reduce our expectations, or better still, all get involved in the preparations, cooking and tidying up afterwards. We need to give wives and mothers a rest.
It is one of the Muslim World’s open secrets that instead of Ramadan being a month of culinary restraint, many people actually put on weight during it. We are meant to be more conscious of food consumption as a sign of thankfulness, and to have empathy with those who have less, all the while shifting focus away from the body. If our body mass goes up, then we have done something terribly wrong. It is time to rethink our Ramadan strategy and dispense with a bad habit.
No doubt it is hard to maintain concentration while fasting. But laziness at work and complaints that it is impossible to engage in proper employment are, quite frankly, baffling. The point of fasting is to carry on with normal life as much as possible. Skiving off work is hardly an ethical form of behavior. No need to moan, be slothful or sleep at work. And if you really cannot do it, then take some holiday time.
You go to a number of government institutions and want your papers done as quickly as possible, but there you get the answer: “Come back tomorrow, the manager is absent.’ Or another scenario is when you are told that the employee is sleeping in the other room.
In many parts of the Muslim World, traders unscrupulously raise the prices of their products and services to exploit the needs of Muslims at a time of need for staple goods. That is not very Ramadan-like in my view.
But perhaps most important of all of Ramadan’s bad habits is the lack of focus on our behavior. There is no point in getting hungry if all we are going to do is snap someone’s head off, get into an argument, or sit and gossip to pass the time. Caffeine withdrawal seems relatively simple to deal with by comparison to some of the changes needed to get rid of those bad Ramadan habits.
Finally, let us treat Ramadan the way it deserves and act according to its blessed teachings and morals, rather than blaming everything on it.
Till the next article insha Allah.
By Talal Al-Ghannam