The holy month of Ramazan is a very special time for Muslims around the world. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. And as the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramazan begins on a different date each year unlike holidays, which follow solar calendar and fall on the same date every year.

From being generous to those less privileged to putting a lid on lying, the month has lots of great principles to offer — to both adults and kids.

Ramazan is a time when believers concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives, it is a time of worship and contemplation.

It is also a month of fasting. From the first light of dawn, until the sun goes down, Muslims don’t eat or drink anything. Pre-dawn meal time is known as Sehr, while Iftar is the evening meal which people break their fast with, followed by Maghrib prayer and dinner.

Fasting helps us to realise the thirst, hunger and sufferings which the poor and the needy go through. However, the purpose of fasting is to practise self-discipline, understand what self-sacrifice is all about, and become pious and submit ourselves to Allah’s commands. In addition to learning patience and endurance, fasting is beneficial for our health as well, as it gives our body a chance to cleanse its systems.

Children are not required to fast until they are a little older, however, in many families, younger kids enjoy participating and are encouraged to practise fasting for a few days during this month. This way, they enjoy the feeling of participating in a ‘grown-up’ form of worship and get into the habit.

Here are some tips that will help you maintain a fast with little difficulty and stay healthy too.

• Do not miss your sehri. Yes, sometimes it is hard to get up at that hour, which is why it has lots of benefits and rewards. It will help you to wake up for the Fajr prayer roo. having Sehr is Sunnah, and is generally recognised as the most important meal of the day. Try to limit the intake of fried and spicy food because that will make you even thirstier during daytime, instead opt for whole-wheat cereals, fruit and vegetables — these will help sustain you and provide you energy throughout the day. Do not overeat, though.

• During the hottest part of the day, stay in cool areas (indoors or in the shade) and limit your physical activity. Rest if possible.

• Avoid gorging yourself when breaking the fast at sunset. It is advisable to break your fast with dates and water, which is Sunnah, or milk and fruit juice.

• Have a healthy and balanced dinner. Follow the rule of filling your stomach one-third with food, one-third with water and leave the last one-third for air. This will help you stay fit during Ramazan and throughout your life.

• Drink up! Since the month of Ramazan is taking place during the long, hot days of summer, it is very important that you drink enough water during the time you are not fasting.

• Take a shower after Iftar as it will freshen you up so that you will be able to say your Isha and Tarawih prayers easily and not feel lethargic and lazy.

• Use your time wisely. The month of Ramazan passes very quickly. Be productive. Use whatever tools you can find to help motivate and encourage yourself and other.

• Be mindful of the fast of others. Whether you are fasting or not, do remember that adults will be fasting so don’t make unnecessary demands on them.

However, Ramazan is not merely a month of fasting. It is rather a season to cultivate all sorts of virtues and good habits, and the perfect opportunity to break free of all negativity that has been holding us back from achieving true happiness and improve ourselves for the better.

I think the best benefit that can be derived from Ramazan is to carry the lessons learned from it, such as moderation and discipline, to the year that follows. Wishing a very happy Ramazan to all!

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