Ramadan is here.

This is the month during which Muslims shun food from dawn to sunset in accordance with the dictate of Allah in the Quran Chapter 2 Verse 183: “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may attain piety”.

Apart from abstinence from food during the day, Muslims are expected to stay away from sexual intercourse, refrain from bad talk and deeds.

However, the month comes with its own challenges as it entails a lot of changes in the lifestyle of the faithful.

It runs from May 27 until June 25 this year.

Here are some tips to maximise the benefits of the month and minimise stress.

1. Prepare financially

The month of Ramadan is a time when Muslims are expected to undergo a lot of changes in their lifestyle – physical, financial and spiritual.

Although there is reduction in intake of food, additional expenses are incurred by the change in the quality of food, fruits and other items the Muslim consumes.

2. Change routine

The Ramadan month is when one has to adopt different schedules – waking up early to take Sahur (pre-dawn meal)  and getting home early to prepare and take meal for breaking the fast at dusk.

This may present some challenges for the person whose work schedule entails getting home late or staying out late in the night. The fasting Muslims have to effect changes to enable them get home early and also sleep early so that they can wake up on time. It is not unusual to find some people planning their annual leave at work to coincide with this month so that they can be in more control of their time.

3. Break your fast slowly and don't overindulge

While it is tempting to overindulge when breaking the fast after a day of food deprivation, remember that you should slow down.
Start with a few dates and water and then wait before starting your main meal. Dates are a great source of energy for the body, helping it to secrete digestive enzymes in preparation for the upcoming meal.

4. Eat food and drink fluids that hydrate your body

When you fast, you are slowly being dehydrated over the course of the day. So once you break, you will need to eat foods and fluids that put water back into your body.

It can be difficult to drink an entire 1.5 liter bottle of plain water. Drinking coconut water is a great alternative to plain water. Coconut water provides the body with electrolytes, vitamins and nutrients. You can also make smoothies, juices and soups.

5. Sleep remains key

Without it you are going to be of no use to anyone. Although your sleep may be segmented it is still super important. If you can grab a few hours here and a few hours there then do so. Without a decent amount of sleep (7-8 hours every 24) then you are going to be in all kinds of trouble.

6. Free time to visit and share

One of the lessons of the month is sharing and empathising with the less fortunate. The haves are made to experience the plight of the have-nots who have to go hungry for lack of means. It is a time to draw near to them and share our meals. It is also a time to reach out to our friends and relations whom we haven’t seen for some time. Although the pressure of work may not allow us go out as much as we would like, telephone calls and messages are options to explore.

7. Provide for Zakat-ul-Fitr

The culmination of the Ramadan is the observance of the Id-Fitr, the festival at the end of Ramadan. This is preceded by the Zakat-ul-Fitr, the charity of Id-Fitr where fasting Muslims are to give alms to the needy in form of edibles, especially grains. The head of each family is expected to offer a certain measure of grains multiply by the number of the household, including infants. This charity is to be offered before the Id-Fitr prayer, preferably a day before Id-Fitr.

Zakat-ul-Fitr is a continuation of the inclusive and leveling tradition of Ramadan. The needy are afforded opportunity of having some food to celebrate the end of Ramadan alongside the rich.