Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I intend to do my first Ramadan, but my family is not Muslim, can you tell me what to do?
I am a Muslim girl in a Christian family (who refuses to take me to the nearest Islamic Center). I have no one to ask what I should do or to seek advice. I want to please Allah Most High. I know that I can eat before sunset, and afterward.
But I’d like tips to avoid eating, as well as general advice for my first Ramadan and perhaps suggestions on what to pray. I need to get into the habit of prayer again, but that will lie on me.
Thank you for your question. Ma sha Allah, may Allah reward you for your absolute sincerity, while you are living with your Christian family, and may He make this month a means of showers of blessings and ease on you. Please remember that you can seek advice here anytime you want, ask questions, take free courses, and read the thousands of answers that we have available on the website.
The new moon of Ramadan is usually discovered late the night before fasting starts. You can use a website to find out if the moon was seen, call your local mosque, check on social media, or ask a friend or acquaintance if the moon was sighted. There is no need to go out and sight the moon yourself. You can rely on those more knowledgeable.
The crux of fasting is that you intend to fast and refrain from eating, drinking, and intercourse from dawn to sunset. It is a sunna (recommended act) to rise for the pre-dawn meal and a good habit to stop eating 5-10 minutes before dawn. After the sun sets (not before), you can break your fast with a date or water, and have your meal. Some wait 1-3 minutes after sunset just to be sure the time entered. The start and finish times of the fast will change daily. You can use a website to find your prayer times. My teacher taught me to use the Muslim World League calculation method from this website: https://www.islamicfinder.org/
Spirit (ruh) of Fasting
The spirit of fasting is that one uses this month to draw close to one’s Maker. It is the month of plentiful reading of the Quran, dhikr (remembrance of Allah), supererogatory prayer such as tarawih, much charity, forgiveness, and intense supplication, especially at night. This month, the Devil is chained, and Muslims subdue their passions, avoid evil deeds as much as possible, using this time as an opportunity to forge new habits and drop bad ones. This is the month that the Quran was revealed, and many read through interpretations and explanations of the whole Quran during this month. If it wasn’t for Allah placing a festivity, Eid al-Fitr, at its very end, the hearts would break by its passing.
Here are some general tips that I can give you for your first Ramadan:
- Get up 30-40 minutes before dawn, and eat something halal, healthy, and filling. It is better to make this meal heavier, and the evening meal light. Try to drink 6-8 cups of water between sunset and dawn every day.
- Try to minimize the noise in the kitchen so that you don’t disturb your family.
- During the day, stay out of the kitchen!
- Make a special supplication when you break your fast, as it is a time when supplications are accepted.
- At sunset, you can partake from your family’s food, if they are cooking, as long as it is halal and break your fast with that. Otherwise, prepare your own meal.
- At sunset (Maghrib time), have a date first, or water, pray Maghrib, and then sit down to eat, thanking Allah for helping you fast and for the food and ask Him to accept your fast.
- Keep your physical activity to a minimum, as you will tire easily, and if you want to exercise, do it right before breaking fast.
- Don’t fast during your period, it is not allowed, you must keep count and make up those days after Ramadan is over.
Please use the resources below in order to learn all the details of fasting, the rulings, the intention, the nullifiers, and so forth. Please don’t fret, but just do your best. Taking a course on the absolute essentials of your religion, or a fasting course, is also important, please register when you have time.
The Fiqh of Fasting Ramadan According to the School of Imam Shafi’i
Ramadan Explained (Shafi’i): The Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting
The Spiritual Purpose of Fasting: Closeness to Allah
Worship & Prayer on Laylat al-Qadr
Preparing For Ramadan Advice from Habib Umar bin Hafiz
Fasting – Its Virtues and Principles – Imam Ghazali (From Al-Arba`In FI Usul Al-Din)
May Allah make this Ramadan memorable and give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.