Countdown to Ramadan '11!!

Ramadan this year starts on August 1st. Call me crazy, but I love this time of year! Why? If you know me well then you'll know that I can be intense and serious towards my endeavours, and Ramadan is no exception. And regardless of the fact that over the past few years the fasts have become much longer and challenging, I've grown to cherish and love this time of year even more.

And no, it's not because all fasting Muslims during this time have the same ketone-smelling breath from close to 17-hour fasts from food and water! But nice try :)

Each year around this time, around a week before Ramadan starts, I start thinking about pragmatics. I'm thin to start with and can't afford to lose weight, so the annual theme running through my frontal lobe is "how can I cram more protein into my pre-dawn meal?!" And each year, without fail, I fail! I've tried milkshakes, protein bars, eggs, cheese, etc etc etc. Over the past couple of years, I supplement my meals with Lara Bars and yogurt. But in all honesty, and others will agree with me, no matter what you eat for that meal, YOU'RE GONNA GET HUNGRY!!! So I've given up on trying to perfect my pre-dawn meal and just focus on eating (note: not over-eating) a balanced and healthy meal. By this time, I know that my hunger pangs tend to hit around 10am, 1pm, and then an hour before breaking my fast (the doozie is this one!). So at least I can roll with them!

But Ramadan is not solely about abstaining from food and water during daylight hours, it's also a month of spiritual purification and heightened religious practice. You'll see Muslims heading to the mosque after breaking their fast to engage in lengthened night prayers (for us Muslims in some mosques, "Super-Speed Taraweeh!"). You'll see Muslims turning to the Quran more and using prayer beads more, and trying to purify their thoughts and mind through Ramadan. We are taught to experience the hardships of no food or water so that we are in the shoes of those who do not have the luxury of such basic necessities. And with the draught and famine occurring in East Africa adding to the already millions of people who are starving, Ramadan this year holds greater weight.

So I've been thinking of ways I can "up the ante" on myself to make this Ramadan the BEST YET! (corny, I know!). The following are a few ideas I had:

1. 30 blog entries for the 30 days of Ramadan (because when I try to think back to what the previous year's Ramadan was like, I can't recall much!)

2. SMART (Short, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and WITH a Time frame!) goal: "Sameera will attend at least 75% of Taraweeh night prayers at the NW Mosque with minimal adult support (i.e. attending with mom, meeting friend at mosque for prayers, alarm set to remind departure time!)"

3. I shall NOT PURCHASE ANYTHING FROM A MALL (OR ONLINE!!) DURING THE 30 DAYS OF RAMADAN! (sniff!)

4. I shall ONLY frequent Facebook AFTER sunset (let's make this 75% of the time because I know it's more realistic!!), with the main goal being to post links to my blog.

5. I will try to recite and read the transliteration of as much of the Quran as possible during Ramadan.

OK, those are the top 5! I do have more goals but I think that the above provides readers with a general sense of what Ramadan is all about! If you have any further questions, feel free to ask away! :)

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