SHAFAQNA – What’s it like to go without food and water for almost 19 hours a day in this current hot spell?
With Britain basking in a heatwave, most of us are reaching for iced drinks and making sure we have plenty of water or other fluids.
But what if you can’t have any food or drink because you are a member of the Muslim community involved in fasting for
Shaz Manir, CEO of Amirah Foundation, a Birmingham charity which supports homeless and vulnerable women,
told the Birmingham Mail : “It’s British summertime and the sun doesn’t come down. So you can do a day of work, go home and you still have seven hours left till you can eat something.
“I get dehydrated very quickly. I personally find at day five or day six very tough, You can’t be a martyr to your body, that really isn’t on. God doesn’t want you to hurt yourself.
“So I might take a day off and just spend the day drinking lots of water.”
We’re now in the final week of fasting – just as temperatures have soared to 30C (86F) and made going with food or drink tougher than ever.
Asked how much of a challenge Ramadan was in the current heatwave, Shaz said that recent events in the news had given the Muslim community a greater sense of determination to stick to their traditions.
She explained: “It is very hot! However I think over the past week there has been an added need by many in the Muslim community to find solace and connect spiritually both with the creator and humanity.
“With events at Grenfell Tower and the great get-together [of Eid al-Fitr coming] this weekend, many Muslims – myself included – feel a greater vigor for fasting and Ramadan.
“Many people have been moved with the tragedy and the scenes we are seeing and want to do more, as giving in charity and taking care of those in need is an integral part of fasting during this month.
“After the recent attacks in Manchester, and twice in London and again in London last night, many Muslims feel an increased need for inner peace.
“We are distraught but the fasts – especially when opened with members from a wider community – compensate for the unbearable heat and thirst.”
The foundation has helped many members of the community by organising iftar events at weekends.
Iftar is the evening meal that breaks each daily fast during the holy month.
Shaz added: “Having these events has renewed our sense of what an amazing place we call home despite those that seek to divide us with senseless hate.”
Members of the Muslim community in Kensington laid on a meal for those affected by the Grenfell Tower blaze.
And many local Muslims had rushed to the scene to help people, having been up late in readiness for the early morning meal of suhur before the daily fasting begins.
How to cope with fasting in the heatwave
Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham has offered the following advice on fasting during the heatwave:
Divert your focus from the heat and fatigue – your mind has the capability to ignore feelings so divert your focus onto other tasks
Ask Allah to help you persevere
Keep your physical activity at a minimum
Breathe better – measured breathing through the nose will minimise dry throat
Stay out of the sun
Take short naps or rests throughout the day to conserve energy
Drink plenty of water at suhur and during the non-fasting hours
Sports drinks are ok to consume in the non-fasting hours when sweating excessively or when you notice slight signs of moderate dehydration, as they will replenish the sodium lost during sweating
Avoid caffeinated drinks
Eat plenty of high water content foods: Strawberries, squash, melons, aubergine, leafy greens, carrots and tomatoes are just a few
Eat well at suhur and iftar – a balanced meal with complex carbohydrates and proteins for slow-release energy