Ramadan diary: ‘I made a mistake not preparing to fast – and I’ve paid the price’

Ramadan began on April 2 this year, and Muslims observing the month are now one week into their fast. Last week writer Zesha Saleen wrote about how to fast safely. Here, in her brand new weekly column, she tells us how her first week of fasting has been…

"The first week is often the hardest when it comes to Ramadan.

Some Muslims (cleverly) anticipate this and so start to prepare a week or so in advance – this could be by cutting out caffeine, fasting for a few days in the run up to Ramadan and starting to adjust their lifestyle to make it easier.

This year, I didn’t get to do this, mainly because of how busy life was over the past two weeks.

As a result my first fast was plagued by a horrible headache, leaving me irritated and tired.

Yesterday, I was at my desk doing some work – I kept reaching out for my water bottle which is usually always filled up and sat next to me.

There was no bottle, as I had previously moved it into the kitchen [Muslims who are observing the fast must refrain from drinking water, or any other liquid, and eating food, for the duration] so it led to me simply reaching out into the air, grabbing onto nothing.

Even as we approach the end of the first week of Ramadan, I’m still struggling to find the right routine – balancing work with an increased effort on my faith is proving tricky.

As of today (Thursday), fasting has become easier – I’m still a bit tired because of my changed sleep routine but I don't feel as hungry or irritable any more.

The cooler weather is also a blessing as it makes fasting easier – I remember fasting in 2016, where the weather was beautifully hot, and the fast was very, very long.

With the Easter holidays now starting, it’s a lot easier to fast as I’m back at home with my parents – no more having to make my own Iftar meals [the sunset evening meals that end that day's Ramadan fast] or worry that I won’t wake up in time for Suhoor [the morning meal].

If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt from the past week, it’s that being a more patient person could do wonders for my life.

Ramadan requires a lot of patience, especially if you’re someone like me who really enjoys her three meals a day.

In life, you will be in situations where things might not go your way, or they’ll leave you irritated with a slight sense of FOMO.

Getting through the first week is the hardest and requires oodles of patience. Especially if you have a 9am start at work or school – getting through life as usual during Ramadan is harder than usual.

There’s no shame in admitting it, we’re human.

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Of course, we’re going to find fasting hard in the first few weeks, let’s not shy away from that.

Instead, let’s focus on how we’re going to adapt to get through the next week in the best way possible."

Zesha Saleem is a freelance journalist, Muslim and medical student. As a child she did half-day fasts, beginning fasting properly when she was 13, which she now enjoys each year.

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