The aroma of samosas frying in the kitchen, the sound of your favourite Ramadan programme on TV, the buzz of your household gathering for Iftar after a rewarding but challenging day of fasting… Yeah, forget all of that.
Ramadan Kareem to everyone partaking in this holy month. Hopefully, it hasn’t been too difficult with the jarring and drastic difference in sunset and sunrise times! For anyone who isn’t familiar with Ramadan, it is a holy month for Muslims who fast every day from just before sunrise to sunset, praying, reading our holy book, the Quran, and connecting with God, both thanking him for our blessings and asking for forgiveness.
Ramadan is also a time where families commit to spending more time with each other, having important meals, Iftar and Suhoor, gathered around a typically lavish table of delicious foods. Unfortunately, being a university student, it’s likely that you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time away from your family during Ramadan, if not the entire month. It’s truly disappointing and can feel pretty lonely.
This Easter break, I’m staying in Manchester, and that means I will be waking up at ungodly hours to cook in a cluttered kitchen and having breakfast at 8 pm while my non-Muslim flatmates raise a curious eyebrow. Oh, and I’ll be doing all that while trying to study for upcoming exams and maintain a semblance of a social life despite my messy sleep schedule. So far it’s been manageable, and so I’d like to share my tips for anyone who might be in the same boat as me!
Make your life deliciously easier
Let’s be honest, we totally took for granted our mothers’ and older sisters’ cooking for us every day so we had something delectable to break our fasts and close them with. I don’t know about you, but I wake up every day thinking, what am I going to make today? Something I’ve found very handy is treating cooking for Ramadan like cooking for any other regular time and cooking in batches. Make yourself a large pot of your favourite, enticing pasta, biryani or similar dish, and divide it into containers and plates. Fridge or freeze those away and you have really good food waiting for you
without a second thought! It’s such a relief waking up at 3 am and realizing, I don’t have to put any effort into what I’ll be eating tonight!
Who knew being Muslim was so tech-forward?
Apps like Muslim Pro, Athan Pro, and Daily Muslim (you get the gist), are surprisingly incredibly handy. Not only will they remind you of prayer times, but they’ll also let you track your fasting – which is especially handy for when you have to miss some days – and track your Quran reading too! Most apps have a built-in Quran, allowing you to bookmark, read translations, plan your reading and reach your goal for the month!
They’re definitely worth checking out if you don’t have a Quran with you, don’t know where the Qibla is, need a digital Tasbih or want to enjoy some Hadiths!
ISoc: A hidden gem!
If you follow the Manchester Islamic Society on Instagram, you’ll see the events and special evenings that they hold from time to time. It’s great that we live in such a diverse, welcoming city, so let’s take advantage of all the opportunities present!
Did you know they have free Iftars every weekday at the McDougalls Prayer Hall? Free food, getting to meet other Muslims in the same boat as you, and feeling the Ramadan spirit? Sign me up!
Spread the spirit: Host an Iftar
Muslim families are known for their hospitable, dinner-throwing natures. Let’s take after that! Ramadan can be lonely as a student but it doesn’t have to be. If you have Muslim flatmates or friends, or flatmates who have Muslim friends, gather them all, whether Muslim or not, and have a big feast for a dinner together one night! Beat the loneliness with fragrant fried foods, loud laughter and cheerful companionship. Even if you all just have a Dixy take out, eating together is a great form of bonding, and
you’ll feel the rewards for sure.
Ramadan entertainment – they make or break the Iftar table!
I’m sure most of you are used to watching certain shows or programmes at the Iftar table or after having broken your fast! Whether it’s a series by famous actors or deep, emotional talk shows and interviews, most of us look forward to Ramadan for this reason too. Alone, I don’t find much to do at Iftar. I have no one to talk to, no TV in my flat and my family are busy in their own time zones sometimes.
If you face a similar situation, I suggest you go onto Google and find the streamings of your favourite Ramadan programmes to put you in the Ramadan spirit and keep you entertained. Its hard being alone, and a little depressing. Try not to succumb to the void, and keep yourself engaged! I for one like listening to the Asma Ul Husna while preparing Iftar. It helps.
If you stay up late for Suhoor, divide your day in 2
Not only is it Easter break, but it’s Ramadan too, which means my sleep schedule is mess). I’ve been able to make the best of this unideal situation by dividing my day into two parts: before and after Iftar. This way, I’m able to plan out my studying for upcoming exams in a strategic and realistic way. If I have to study four units in one day, I’ll watch two before Iftar and two afterwards. Iftar acts as a nice break but also a checkpoint for me to check in with myself and see how I’m performing. Although with uni starting again in a week and a half, that situation is a little sticky! Try not to put yourself in a bind and maybe sleep at a decent time as hard as that may be!
Well, folks, those are my tips for surviving Ramadan, separated from your beloved family. Try to take this opportunity to create new traditions instead of mourning those you no longer partake in! With that, all that’s left to say is, good luck, (and I hope you stop having dreams of accidentally eating throughout the day!)