Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ramadan 3: Questions & Answers

These are actual questions taken I found in the keyword searches that readers are using to find my blog.

I will attempt to answer. Perhaps my knowledgeable readers can fill in any gaps I've missed.

If you don't feel that you've gotten a good enough answer here, then keep searching.
Allah knows best.

What's the solution to being tired in Ramadan?

Simplify and prioritize.

Ramadan is a great time to admit what we actually need. We don't need endless hours sitting in front of a screen. We don't need to have lots of meaningless fun staying up late and using coffee throughout our day.

We need to get sleep. We need to wake. Eat nutritious food. We need to praise Allah and read Quran. We need to get work and chores done at a steady pace. We need to spend time with good friends and family. At the end of our day, we need to go to bed.

In short, the solution to being tired in Ramadan is to pare down to the essentials of life by taking out the needless and focusing on the integral.

Oh, and rest around 3:00, if you can. You don't have to nap necessarily, but do close your eyes, even for just 5 minutes.

Why do I feel hot after fasting?

I can't say that I feel "hot" when I break my fast. I do admit, though, to a rush of blood flow, which could be interpreted as feeling "hot". Everything in your body slows down when you fast. When you take in sugar from dates or juice, you do get it all flowing again. You might feel a kind of drugged up high, to be honest. That's why it's very important to take in the best of food when you break a fast. You are introducing something into your body that is going to really, really affect your system. Take it easy and be good to yourself as you break your fast. It is a moment not to be taken lightly.

Is is haram to brush your teeth in Ramadan?

While you're fasting? It's not advised. I don't do it. I love love love my teeth. However, I love Allah more. Currently, in the world there is such an emphasis on having sparkling straight white teeth and fresh breath. We should all be careful not to prize anything more than Allah.

Allah has commanded that NOTHING enter our stomachs during a fast OR it breaks the fast. This means not a drop of toothpaste. You want to be sure that no toothpaste enters your stomach? Not me. I realize it's possible to do, and I've tried it during fasting. I simply didn't like taking the chance.

Better to have very good dental health with brushing and flossing BEFORE the fast begins.

What about using a breath freshener?

The breath of a fasting person is more beautiful to believers than perfume. As for the other people who roam the earth, they really CAN NOT be your concern in Ramadan. Yes, it's hard to work with non-Muslims during the month of fasting, as you feel sheepish about your breath. Whatever. You have to take that stance. If you don't get a thick skin about being Muslim, you will try to be a people-pleaser instead of pleasing Allah.

Can I go to the dentist during Ramadan?

It's one month. Routine appointments should not be scheduled during this time. If it's an emergency, then you would have to be sure not to swallow anything. That's hard! If you do end up swallowing water, then you would be breaking your fast. Breaking your fast means paying for 60 people, I believe, to eat a meal at today's costs.

How many rakhas each prayer?

There is the minimum and the maximum for everything, right?

Here is the Muslim minimum:

fajr -2





Now, during the month of Ramadan you it is best to push yourself and increase your observance. Each prayer has the must "the fard" and the possible "the sunnah" which is what Prophet Mohammed, pbuh did. He did more than others. He did not hurt himself to please Allah. We aren't ascetics! He simply added extras rakhas before and after.

I have heard that the number of rakhas you pray before the obligatory ones should be equal to the number you pray afterwards. So, that if you add two rakhas before asr, then you also need to pray two afterward.

THEN there is taraweah, which is a special prayer of 11 that you can do during Ramadan. That is done is series of two each like you were praying fajr, with one to top it off.

How do I say "mosque"?

It sounds like the first syllable in "mosquito". That's because it's a Spanish derivation.

I don't use it. I use "masjid" instead.

NOTE: Reader "Tulip" asked me to look up the etymology of this word.

You can also find some information about it here.

Is it ok to sleep through suhour?

Really, it is not preferred. In sunnah, which are collections about how Prophet Mohammed, pbuh, lived and what he said, we are told to wake for suhour.

Is it ok to eat after fajr but before sunrise ?

No. You must stop eating BEFORE fajr. You must also be done with drinking and brushing teeth

There is a calendar put out by our local halal market which is very nice. It has a red box above the fajr time which states STOP EATING. The problem with that, in my opinion, is that you really have to stop eating a few minutes before to take care of brushing teeth and drinking water after that.

I, for sure, have been in mid-brush when I've heard, "IT'S TIME!" And I've had to spit out my toothpaste without drinking any water afterward. It's horribly hard to say your fajr prayers without that totally cleanly rinsed feeling in your mouth.

How long after dawn is it sunrise?

It's about an hour or so. You have that much time to pray but NOT to stop eating.

How many pages of Quran should we read each day in Ramadan?

OK, here's where I am going to tell my truth: I read as much as I can before I can't take in any more wisdom. Others will tell you that you have to read a certain amount of pages each day in order to finish the Quran by Eid. To me, I disagree with that idea.

If you have eaten in one meal all you can digest, should you keep going? No!

Now, some people are working, some are taking care of young children (shout out to all my mommy friends) and some are doing both (
Our Rewards Await Us, I love you, girl!) All of us have to keep really living while doing more Quran readings. Can all of us read a prescribed set of pages each day? I don't think so. I think some can and some cannot.

There is a danger with feeling the pressure to read those prescribed pages. YES, I've tried and failed. You start with the best of intentions, but as soon as you fall behind, you give up all together.

For me, this year, I'm so happy with my Quran readings, alhumdulillah. I am reading my Quran with tasfir. I've read the English translation of Quran all the way through twice. This time, I'm focusing on deeper understanding of what I read.

I started this endeavor well before Ramadan started. I got to read the wonderful MASHALLAH surah of Nabi Yusuf (Prophet Joseph) pbuh on the first day of fasting. I actually read it twice; once for the explanation and the second time I shared it. It was so great to read it aloud to my older kids.

It took me two days to finish Ar-Rad.

Now, I'm on Ibrahim and I'm excited to start that tomorrow.

Will I finish the Quran by Eid? Inshahallah. If I don't, does that mean I'm a loser? OF COURSE NOT! Even reading one word from Quran, knowing it's meaning, and believing it makes you a big fat winner!

Why does Ramadan move backwards?

You are thinking of Ramadan, as part of the Hijri calendar, in comparison to the Gregorian calendar, as used in the West. Muslim follow the Hijri calendar, which is lunar. Christians follow the Gregorian calendar, which is solar. The two differ by 11 days. So, really the Muslims have 11 fewer days than the Christians each year. That 11 day difference means that each year, on the calendars used in the U.S., our month of fasting "moves backwards" by comparison.

So, it takes about three years for a Ramadan to move out of a Gregorian calendar month to the month before it.

Oh, it's too early in the morning for me to do math, but eventually you spend Ramadan in each of the Gregorian calendar months. Figure out how long that takes, Smarties, and you win a prize.

Can we play video games or use computer during Ramadan?

Sure, you have free will.

Should you? That's not really the best use of your time, is it? I mean, at least, if you are going to do it, wait until after the fast is broken. Limit the amount of time also. You are still allowed your fun during Ramadan (as long as it's halal) but within moderation. Don't love anything more than Allah.

If the game arouses in you extreme surges of adrenaline, then best to examine why you are playing. Did you know that the adrenaline rush can become addictive?

If using the computer brings you into contact with bad company, then don't.

Ramadan is really a time of figuring out what's best. Many good habits are borne from these 29-30 days of renewed self-examination and reworking of our lives.

Can I listen to music during Ramadan?

Again, you can do lots of things during Ramadan.

Should you?

I'm not going to answer this one. I'm going to let you answer it.

Think to yourself who you want to be as a Muslim. Think if the music you are listening to is better than Quran. If you are wanting the most good deeds, then which one gets you your good deeds? If you believe that the Prophet Mohammed, pbuh, was one of the finest examples of humankind, would you imagine him listening to your music? He did actually listen to music--but was it during his fast? If you had to teach a child, whom you treasured, about Islam, would you teach them to listen to that station on the radio? Would you hand someone you loved and cared about that CD? Or would you hand them some recorded Quran?

What if you died tonight? I'm sorry to perhaps put a damper on your day but it's possible. As Muslims we must always be prepared. What would you be proud of having done on the third day of Ramadan? Whatever that is, do it now. Now, is all we have.


Anonymous said...

"It sounds like the first syllable in "mosquito". That's because it's a Spanish derivation"

Just a little FYI, but this is very untrue. See here.


About the "fresh" breath during Ramadan. Definitely the worst part of it. I have learned to stay far away from people cause seriously, the breath just reeks LOL. Anyways, Ramadan Mubarak


Yosra said...

Asalamalaykom Tulip,

Thanks for your take on the etymology of "mosque".

I know that many people really care about stale breath odor during Ramadan. I guess I just don't. It is what is it :)

For me, I think the worst part of Ramadan has become getting on the scale. I certainly feel 10 lbs. lighter, but the needle doesn't move. Wouldn't you think there'd be weight loss after all this fastin?!

Oh well...

Asalamalaykom "Sensible Reader,"

You won't see your comments here. They really sucked. You can write that I'm not an Islamic scholar and I'll agree. You can say that I've had a lot of relationships. I have. But you can't come to my blog and act like a passive-agressive do-gooder trying to put me in my place by comparing me to Osama bin Laden.

You say that, of late, I've become all religious and self-righteous.

Hmmm...now why in the world would I want to focus on my religion now? Why would I want to examine my own righteousness or lack thereof? Hey! I know! It's back-to-school time! No...not quite it...hold a sec...well, it really has been almost six years since I took shahaddah.

Oh, ya, I remember---IT'S RAMADAN!

How's your Ramadan going? Sincerely, I hope it's going well. For the life of me, I can't understand how someone fasting and praying and reading Quran can vent so much anger towards someone else trying to do good in the world. I might have come off sounding like a doofas. It's possible. Wouldn't be the first time.

In this case, I am so fine with my intentions for posting answers to these questions. I felt a moral obligation. Is there someone better equipped to handle the answers? Ya, and in fact I said that straight out at the beginning of the post. I want ALL OF YOU to help me answer them. "Tulip" did just that (see above).

Frankly, in life, if we always wait for someone smarter, better, faster to do the hard tasks they'll never get done. We have to step forward and do our best. I did what I could do.

I'm sincerely sad for you if your response to my attempt was hate.

May Allah bless you with a greater sense of your place in the world as my sister or brother and may your knowledge of our connectedness help you to reach out with a gentler gesture of kindness and understanding.

egyptchick7 said...

Today was my 1st day to fast ( bc aunt flo was around the first 2 days ) and it was REALLY hard bc I worked with ppl at my store for 8 hours. I am also into retail so fresh breath is a key issue. I do brush my teeth but be sure to be super duper conscious about not swallowing anything.

I am "scared"ish to set my alarm for suhour...the turn it off without knowing and then not wake up for work in the morning. So I will do what kinda worked last night. Drink a whole lot b4 I go to bed and have the bladder wake me in time. LOL. Is yogurt enough?

I think what I loved about today was telling my co-workers about fasting and seeing them awe-struck.

I have a q. Is taraweeh prayer usually after Isha? And can I take asprin or pills during my fast as long as it is without water?

This post, and all of your special Ramadan posts help give me strength and peace throughout the day. It's like the iftar I can't have anymore bc I am not in college. So thanks, and don't allow these ppl to put you down...

[[[ x Sparkling-Smiles x ]]] said...

asslamualikum sister =]]

just stumbled upon your blog. subhanAllah i love ur page design! beautiful :D

and this post is wonderful! love the way uve answered the questions in such a straight-forwrd and interesting,student-friendly manner. This line made me smile :"I love love love my teeth. However, I love Allah more!" lol :D!

may Allah almighty rewrd you sis. Allahuma Ameen.

stay smiling sis, and have a blessed ramadhaan

Sparkling Smiles~

Yosra said...

Asalamalaykom Smiling Sis,

Thanks for taking the time to make such giving comments.

You read my answers EXACTLY as I intended; not scholarly but friendly/conversationally.

May you get your sweet rewards from Allah as well :)

sister in MN said...

Assalamu Alaikum Sr.,
I think its great mashAllah that you are making this kind of information readily accessible to those who may be looking for it...Jazaki Allahu Khair!
Allow me, however, to make some humble comments and on some of what you wrote:
Pertaining the issue of brushing your teeth while fasting, I like how you err on the side of caution. Just from a physiological stand point however, its not a lapse in oral hygiene that makes bad breath when someone is fasting. Its the fact that the stomach is empty, that sends some odors back up into the mouth. So even if someone brushes with toothpaste, and manages to not swallow (very risky) they can't get rid of the odor, only add a minty smell to the mix :)
On the matter of using a breath freshener, it would definitely break one's fast because its something that would end up being swallowed, whether its drops or a mist or whatever, and to fast, like you've said Yosra, nothing can go down your throat.
As for the sunnah rak'as that you pray with the fardh, there is nothing that says that the number you pray before should equal the number you pray after. As a matter of fact, the way its done is to pray them either before or after. Fajr has 2 sunnah rak'as that are best prayed before the fardh, dhuhr's sunnah can go after the fardh, asr has no sunnah, although one can always pray whatever extras one wants to pray, maghrib's sunna goes after it, and isha's sunna and witr go after the fardh.
When it comes to reading Quran during Ramadhan, I totally agree with you that getting hung up on finishing a certain amount everyday only results in one giving up. And why read Quran in Ramadan? because its an opportunity to get more hasanat...its important to remember though that it is not a requirement, its a recommendation.
I like how thoroughly you explained why Ramadhan "moves backwards." Its also a blessing for the Muslim Ummah that it rotates through the seasons, because Muslims all around the world get a chance to experience it with different lenghts of day.
What Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) listened to is classified as nasheed, and not music. Many scholars have considered music to be haram, and not just because of the lyrics if they are bad, but also because it involves instruments taht are not percussion.
I hope all this helps.

Yosra said...

Asalamalaykom Sister in MN,

JAK for all you wrote.

This is exactly what I intended when I put my information out there. If someone had more to add, then let's collect it together here and share it.

When we don't agree with what someone else is saying, there still is something worth saving which we can build upon (as you've done). There is no need in life to crash down every premise built in order to start our own statements from the ground. While it's true none of us are scholars (at least I don't think we are), we all have knowledge and experience and with the help of Allah, we can share that.

May Allah forgive us of any transgressions of The Truth.

Oh, and Sister in MN---I totally love you :)

Anonymous said...

"Today was my 1st day to fast ( bc aunt flo was around the first 2 days )"

eeeeeew egyptchick7 keep that info to urself n don't make it public its not something u share with others...

Yosra said...

Asalamalaykom Anonymous who says eeeeeeew,

It's funny you should have that take on EgyptChick's comment. I've had to talk so much in Islam about my period (do you like "period" better than "Aunt Flo"?) it's ridiculous.

I've had to tell the sheik's assistant that I can't get ask for the divorce since I'm in menses (do you like the word "menses"?).

I had to tell when my last period was to determine iddah.

I've had to ask fellow teachers about the procedures for my students at zuhr when I'm unable to pray because of my period.

For when we are not fasting as well, we are bascially telling the world that we are having our period---if are otherwise in good health and not nursing a baby.

It's actually a good point to bring up in the Q&A. Women do not fast while they are bleeding. They must be absolutely free from color, which can be determined by dabbing tissue. If there is any color at all, then you must not pray and must not fast.

It doesn't mean that you are a dirty girl, as some critics of Islam have wanted to make it out. It is actually a mercy from Allah,Ar Rahman Ar Raheem, so we can rest and take it easy.

I guess you were trying to get EgyptChick to be more modest in her speech. Good luck! This terrific gal is not known for keeping things under wraps. She will flat out state whatever she feels AND I find her refreshing. EgyptChick, stay as-in, please :)

Anonymous who says eeeeeeeew, I appreciate you taking time to voice your opinion---really I do. It gave me a chance to add information to our discussion. So, keep commenting and next time maybe I'll agree with you more :)