A balance of both
A guide to fasting in ramadan as a student.
I have compiled all the resources that I have found to make a guide to fasting and making the most of ramadan as a student. This guide will include:
1) Benefits of fasting: a) spiritual benefits, b) health benefits
Fasting has lots of benefits- whether that be spiritually, for the sake of purifying our souls. Or, health wise. Ultimately, this is a time for our mind, souls and bodies to be purified.
"Anyone who fasts for one day for Allah’s sake, Allah will keep his face away from the Hellfire for (a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
a) Spiritual Benefits
Ramadan is a time where Muslims abandon their instinctual desires- food, drink, smoking, intimacy from dawn until dusk. This month is a time for purification, where the materialistic and daily needs are pushed aside, and instead the state of the soul is reflected upon. Fasting gives Muslims a chance to take a step back and re-evaluate their use of time, their actions and their words. So undoubtedly it is packed with spiritual benefits.
Muslims are able to reflect upon the state of their soul, and make an active effort to engage in good deeds, charity and kindness- putting their desires aside for the month. Ramadan can also be a time to develop good habits and good routines, allowing you to be more mindful about the way time is spent. In addition to this, fasting strengthens the relationship that Muslims have with Allah(swt). By abandoning needs during the fasting period, that bond with our Creator is strengthened because we are given time to truly reflect on everything that he has blessed us with. And by intentionally giving that up during the time that we fast, we demonstrate that everything we do is for Him.
"Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
b) Health benefits
As well as unarguable spiritual benefits, fasting in ramadan does actually have a range of positive physical and mental health benefits.
Some health benefits of fasting in ramadan, demonstrated by scientific research include:
Cleansing and detoxifying of the body:
The gut is able to cleanse and strengthen it's lining. A process called autophagy is also stimulated where the cells self-cleanse and remove damaged particles. (Nutrionist Clare Mahy)
Increases weight loss especially in cases of obesity- Nature
"intermittent metabolic switching" is key for the benefits of fasting- which is what is done by fasting only during daylight hours. This can lead to enhanced cognition and the protection of neurons against degeneration and dysfunction. These benefits extend to after fasting, with new connections and the growth of new brain cells occurring after fasting.
Role in the prevention of epilepsy and an antidepressant effect.
Benefits for cancer treatment due to autophagy
For more detail on these topics click here to watch a video by Dr Tahir Nasser who explains in great detail.
“To fast is best for you, if only you knew.” - The Quran 02:184
2) Food and drink
It is important, for the likelihood of these benefits to arise, for you to be eating the correct types of food- and the correct portions. It is important to avoid overindulging, especially in fatty, fried food. To have a good sehri/ suhoor and Iftar is most beneficial.
Some foods which have proven benefits include:
Dates- not only for their spiritual connection and suggestion, eating dates actually has good health benefits too. They are high in several nutrients, fibre and antioxidants.
Water - make sure to be drinking lots of water during the times that you are able to in order to keep hydrated.
Raw nuts: these contain good fats that help release more sugars to avoid you being hungry during the day.
Lentils: good for digestive health and low in cholesterol.
Melon (any kind): good source of fibre and water.
For more ideas of good food to be eating during ramadan, click here.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important things to consider for fasting as a student. If you are able to plan out in advance a daily structure, you are already half way there. By doing this in advance you are able to prioritise everything that is important and have a balance of everything.
By thinking about your energy levels and when you work best, you will be able to fast, worship and study- you don't have to choose one or the other.
Below are some examples of daily routines. Or if you want to make your own, begin with writing out the 5 prayer times. Then around this fill in time to: study, sleep and relax.
5) Prayer and Duas
Remember that this month is one full of blessings, if you find yourself struggling- then pray to Him to help you through. You can do it!
Below are a list of dua's to help you through:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ لاَ يَنْفَعُ وَمِنْ قَلْبٍ لاَ يَخْشَعُ وَمِنْ نَفْسٍ لاَ تَشْبَعُ وَمِنْ دُعَاءٍ لاَ يُسْمَعُ
“O Allah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge that is of no benefit, a heart that is not humble, a soul that is not satisfied and a supplication that is not heard.” [Hadith; Nasa’i 5536]
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْهُدَى وَالتُّقَى وَالْعَفَافَ وَالْغِنَى
“O Allah, indeed, I ask You for guidance, piety, chastity, and self-sufficiency.” [Hadith; Tirmidhi 3489]
اَللَّهُمَّ اِنْفَعْنِي بِمَا عَلَّمْتَنِي, وَعَلِّمْنِي مَا يَنْفَعُنِي, وَارْزُقْنِي عِلْمًا يَنْفَعُنِي
“O Allah! Grant me benefit in what you have taught me, and teach me useful knowledge and provide me with knowledge that will benefit me.” [Bulugh al-Maram]
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ فِي قَلْبِي نُورًا وَفِي سَمْعِي نُورًا وَفِي بَصَرِي نُورًا وَعَنْ يَمِينِي نُورًا وَعَنْ شِمَالِي نُورًا وَأَمَامِي نُورًا وَخَلْفِي نُورًا وَفَوْقِي نُورًا وَتَحْتِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ لِي نُورًا
“O Allah! place light in my heart, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light on my right, light on my left, light in front of me, light behind me, light above me, light below me, make light for me.” [Hadith; Muslim 763 g]
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
“Our Lord, give us in this world good and in the Hereafter good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” [Quran; 2:201]
رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
“My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.” [Quran; 28:24]
Ramadan Mubarak, may it be a blessed month for you all :) x