Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

Things To Do In The 14 Days Leading to Ramadan

on June 16, 2014

Or Things To Freak Out About To Do Calmly In The 14 Days Leading to Ramadan …

Day 14.  You realize there is only about 2 weeks left until Ramadan starts and you start freaking out. Take a deep breath, and make a list of everything (personal and professional) that you won’t have time for during Ramadan, so you can finish it now. After you’ve finished your list, resist the urge to freak out again – you can do it! Who knew you had so many things on your to-do list?

Day 13.  Take another deep breath and divide the list into 3 parts: Must Do, Maybe Someone else can do, and Wait to do. Start delegating tasks to someone else, if you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Day 12.  Go to the grocery store and buy way more food than you do during a normal month. How is it that during a month of fasting you spend more money on food than any other trip to the grocery store the rest of the year, even if you eat moderately during Ramadan? You go to more than one more grocery store: the “normal” one, and the one with traditional foods (where you can buy flour for pakoras, roti, halal meat, and other such things). Then, you go to another traditional store, because everyone is buying up for Ramadan at the first store, and you waited too long. Oh, dear.

Day 11.  You start to pre-cook as many foods as you can and freeze them for use in Ramadan. You start one day after work. It’s midnight when you realize you’ve only finished two dishes. Why do traditional foods take so long to cook? And you realize you’re hungry, so you eat a bowl (or two) of food.

Day 10.  You wake up still feeling full from your late night snacking. And you realize you won’t be able to really work out for the next month, so you go to the gym. Of course, you haven’t worked out for a few weeks, but starting now is better than not starting at all, right?

Afterwards, you feel energized. You feel upbeat. You go home and cook/freeze three more dishes. You clean the house, and cross numerous items off your To-Do List. You are amazing and on top of everything.

Day 9.  Your muscles ache from your workout yesterday. Clearly, the best thing to do is just not work out until after Ramadan. You curse out loud at one particularly achy leg. And realize you should stop cursing, too. You can’t curse during Ramadan. And then you wonder: What if I think the curse, but don’t say it? Will that work? And you realize, “Of course it won’t!” You must begin to prepare yourself mentally for the long road ahead. And not just for a month, but for a lifetime of good behavior and good deeds. That’s what it’s all about. Being good and kind, inside and out. Deep breath. You can do this. You WILL do this.

Day 8.  You decide to cut down on your tea intake to prepare yourself for the lack of caffeine ahead, so you cut down from 6 cups a day to two. Not that I drink 6 cups a day. It’s just an example. I mean SIX cups, well, that’s a lot. And it’s not like you’re drinking six cups of strong tea a day. It’s pretty weak tea (I’m guessing). Which is why you drink it slowly all day long. So, really, when you think about it, it’s only, like, two or three proper cups a day. So really you’re just going from three cups down to two. And, really, when you think about it, you’re only drinking it to stay warm in your freezing office building, which is obviously necessary to maintain your health. So maybe you’ll at least keep drinking, er, holding a cup of hot tea, er, hot water to keep yourself warm. Ahem.

Day 7.  The iftars (dinners) are piling in now. Weekends you break fast at the mosque, but now you are scheduled to break fast at other people’s houses at least ten other days of the month, and there will be likely more before everything’s said and done. Now you start to wonder: Should I host an iftar? Can I do it? Do I have time? You decide you can’t make it work with your family’s schedule, so you tell everyone to come on Eid day for brunch. Success! No one has invited anyone for Eid day brunch after holiday prayers.

Later that evening, you realize you have decided to invite many people to your house, after a month of pure exhaustion during which you have very little time (or energy) to clean. Oh, dear. Time for more freaking out. And lists. You need lists.

Day 6.  Set your DVR for all those television shows you are likely to miss, or will not have time to watch. Shows that will keep the little ones distracted when you’re praying or reading Qur’an. Shows that will distract the big ones from complaining during the month. And shows that you can watch to help you get through. Don’t forgot about YOUR needs while you are helping others; your needs are important, too.

Day 5.  You start to prepare people at work by describing the month of Ramadan, and how it follows it the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. You try to explain why you don’t know when the month actually starts, and receive only confused looks in return. Except for that one person at work who’s cool and wants to know how they can help you. This is also a great time to shift work or tasks to another person on your team/in your department, if possible, or ask for an adjusted work schedule. Remember – DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.

Day 4.  Set aside money to give as charity, or plan how to save for it. You are not in the best place financially, but you remember that there is always, ALWAYS, someone more needy than you who needs it. And you remember a day, not so long ago, that you were struggling as well.

Day 3.  You need to prepare yourself mentally, so you start waking up even earlier for Fajr (the first prayer of the day) and also start reading the Quran a little more each day.

Day 2.  Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and on the 13-15th days of the Islamic month are considered especially important, so you complete some voluntary fasts to prepare yourself. You are exhausted by the end of it, but you feel better about what’s to come and the physical and mental strain ahead.

Day 1.  The night before Ramadan. Or what you THOUGHT was the night before Ramadan. Apparently, your mosque states it is Ramadan tomorrow, but Saudi Arabia (and the mosque across town) states it’s the day after next. And your family in Pakistan started fasting already!!! WHAT DO YOU DO? (Besides pull your hair out at the inability of even one city to start Ramadan together). You follow your mosque (since you’ll be spending most/all Ramadan with them anyway) and start the month tomorrow. ‘Twas the Night Before Ramadan, after all.

Day 0.  The month has begun. May Allah bless us all this Ramadan. Ameen.

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