Ramadan is the most awaited time of the year for a lot of Muslim people across the globe.
During Ramadan - the ninth month in the Islamic calendar - Muslim people worldwide focus their time and energy on worship, study of the Quran, communal prayer (ṣalāt), introspection and fasting.
One of the important aspects of Ramadan is the month-long fasting. During the Ramadan fast, Muslim people do not eat or even drink water from sunrise until sunset.
Being away from the bustling community at home during Ramadan can be an emotional roller coaster for international students studying abroad - sharing delicious iftar (the meals after sunset to break the fast), sleepily eating the Suhoor (pre-dawn meals) and having deep reflections during prayers with the entire family.
If you are missing home this Ramadan, we have put together seven ways that you can celebrate this special time in Australia:
1. Stay in touch with your local groups and community
The biggest missing piece during Ramadan for many students away from home can be a sense of community and common goal. Try joining local Muslim student groups, Mosques or finding a friend who is fasting as well. Simple things like breaking the fast or heading for the prayers together will boost the Ramadan vibes for you!
Several mosques regularly host Iftar and Suhoor meals. Attending these will help you connect with students like you, meet new people and help you find a family away from home.
2. Make good Suhoor choices
We know Ramadan is not the same without your parents pushing you to wake-up for Suhoor!
We suggest, planning simple yet slow energy release food options for Suhoor. Include grains, oats, beans, and protein in your Suhoor meal, along with dates and fruits – these will help you sustain the whole day’s fast.
One option is picking ready-to-make ‘Talbina’ powder from your nearest supermarket. The barley porridge will be ready in 2-3 minutes and will keep you full for a long time!
Also, swap your fizzy drinks with water and fruit juices to avoid dehydration.
3. Maintain a sleep-schedule
It can be a challenge to get a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep during Ramadan. However, try to avoid going without sleep between Iftar and Suhoor. Sleep at least for four to five hours before Suhoor and a couple of hours after your morning prayers, if possible. Fight the urge to sleep for most or part of the entire day – don’t let lethargy spoil your Ramadan.
4. Stay connected with your family
If there is a time-difference with your family back home, use this time to connect with them during Suhoor. Share pictures of your Iftar and Suhoor meals with them regularly and keep aside a couple of minutes every day to chat with them.
5. Rest well
Your body and mind are undergoing a lot of changes as you forego food and water for the entire day. It is important to be mindful of this and avoid over-exerting yourself. Do not spend hours in gym after Iftar or before Suhoor. Let your body recover and only indulge in light workouts.
6. Focus on your mental health
Take care of your mental well-being during Ramadan. Reach out to your friends and family if you need any support. Try to stay involved in as many activities in the community as possible. You could also listen to motivating podcasts.
7. Savour the cultural diversity
Ramadan away from home is a wonderful opportunity to explore the various ways it is celebrated in other countries and cultures. Go beyond your own community and learn about the different food and practices around you! After all, Ramadan is all about improving yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually.