Now that Ramadan is coming to an end, and only Allah knows if we will see this month again, the time that remains for us of this month is quite special. Within the last ten days of Ramadan we anticipate the Night of Power (Laylat-ul-Qadr), the most blessed night of the year. Many people seek to observe this period while in i’tikaf to maximize ibadah (worship). Physical health and strength is thus vital for observing i’tikaf in this blessed period.
Aisha reported: “With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray the whole night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.” [Bukhari]
Adapting our sleeping routine around suhoor and night prayers, and the general reduction in our intake of food are both factors that can cause a reduced level of energy for the acts of worship we aim to accomplish. The other cause lies in the quality of our iftar. Often, we find the dining tables at iftar full of food that is much larger in quantity than what we are used to at any other dinner time. Sadly, much of this food is not beneficial or nutritious for the body, thus leaves us in a weaker physical state.
But our body is an amanah (a trust) from Allah . With only the last few precious days remaining, it is crucial to focus on what we are consuming so that we can make the most of the time we have left.
The following tips can help keep us strong at nights as we seek to observe Laylat-ul-Qadr, in sha Allah.
Don’t miss suhoor
Narrated Anas bin Malik :
The Prophet said, “Take suhoor as there is a blessing in it.” [Bukhari]
Towards the end of the month, our stomachs have adapted greatly to the amount of food we are consuming, leaving us feeling like we are not hungry. As a result, many people skip suhoor because they feel full from iftar or feel nauseated by eating so early in the morning. Not only is suhoor a blessed sunnah, but it is also essential as an additional meal that will allow us to keep going for the day. Eat something small rather than leaving it out completely. Some healthy suhoor examples include:
- The sunnah nabidh – made from dates placed in water overnight (in empty stomach).
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Boiled egg and wholegrain toast
- Greek yogurt with granola and fruit
- Date smoothie made with oats, dates, and some milk and fruit of your choice
Drink plenty of water
It is essential to keep hydrated while fasting, especially if you live in a hot climate or have long fasts. When the window between iftar and suhoor is short, it is key to drink at least a minimum of two glasses of water with each of those meals. Eat fruits that are full of water, such as watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, grapefruit and raspberries. This will add to the water you are consuming. While praying taraweeh, be sure to take a bottle of water with you and take sips between each unit of prayer. Breaking down when you drink your fluid makes it much easier to take in a large amount, especially if you are someone who does not normally drink enough. Many suffer from headaches when they do not drink enough which can be debilitating for our night time worship.
Be careful of what you cook
This is a big point, especially for those who have the duty of making the food for iftar. In many cultures, it is the norm to cook various fried dishes and sweet foods. It is extremely important to fill your diet with foods that contain complex carbohydrates; this is a food group that releases energy slowly rather than giving you a dramatic surge in energy levels. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, beans, and vegetables. Protein, found in foods like fish, chicken, beans, and lentils, is another essential component to our diet. Ultimately, we should remember to eat everything in moderation. A samosa is not going to harm you if you eat one or two in a week, however eating just samosas throughout the month will not do your health any justice.
Do not overeat
When we have so much to choose from at iftar, it can be really easy to end up filling the plate with much more than we need. By overeating, we run the risk of making ourselves feel tired and drowsy during those key hours of worship in the night. Fill the plate with the minimum amount and only take seconds if the stomach is still rumbling.
While many of us feel tired at various points in the day when we are fasting, this does not mean we should lie on the sofa from sunrise to sunset. By remaining active, we are giving the body the essential amount of exercise it needs; it is a right of our body over us. Yes – running a marathon may be out of the question. But that does not mean you can not take short walks on a daily basis or do some light workouts at home. It is also important to mention that the act of salah is an essential tool in improving our physical state as it stretches out muscles in various movements, improves body posture and digestion. So never forget to pray salah on time, asking Allah to keep you healthy and active, in sha Allah.
Smart napping during i’tikaf
In the last ten days, we stay awake throughout the night when we used to take a nap earlier in the month. As we seek to observe Laylut-ul-Qadr, it is important that we take a nap in the day to make up for some of the hours we lose. This is essential to keep us alert and awake in our daily activities as well as during our worship at night. The time you nap will vary depending on your daytime schedule however the advised time in the sunnah is after dhuhr.
Also, make use of your sleep cycle and stick to napping for 20 minutes, 45 minutes or 90 minutes to keep yourself rejuvenated for ibadah. May Allah bless all of us to make the most out of this Ramadan. (Ameen!)
What are your tips for the last ten nights of Ramadan? Share with us below.