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My first Ramadan as a working woman

  |  August 1, 2013

As the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end, I've had a chance to reflect upon the month's hardships and blessings.

Last Ramadan, I was lucky enough to have a summer vacation, which eased fasting and worshipping. I would stay up all night to pray, read the Quran, and feel the spirituality of the month. I would sleep after I had prayed Fajr and then wake up late in the afternoon to get house chores done.

This year, I am a working woman, so last year's routine could not be repeated. The first week of Ramadan was a huge transition for me, I would sleep after the sun rose and wake up short hours later to head to work. The lack of sleep did affect me and my productivity in the beginning, but I soon got used to the feeling.

The truth is, the only hardship I've had this year is the inability to drink coffee. Working in the newsroom, I have become very used to drinking four to five cups a day. I have been fully dependent on my coffee and not having any gave me a migraine for weeks. After iftar though, my deprived system would get a caffeine rush due to the number of lattes and Arabic coffees that I would enjoy.

This year's responsibilities have been different for me. I have worked in the morning, got some cooking and chores done in the afternoon, and continued my spiritual worshipping of the holy month at night. I would sometimes sneak a one hour 'power nap' after work, but that just makes me more tired and drains me of the little energy I have left. Instead, I've resorted to getting creative in the kitchen. My family enjoys the treats and I prevent myself from going into hibernation mode.

A big part of Ramadan is the continuous gathering of family and friends for iftar and sometimes long into the night. This requires my participation and proper social skills. These have been, of course, lost amidst the zombie effect I've been experiencing due to the lack of sleep. Nonetheless, I've taken part in almost all the visiting as it is always a happy time to be surrounded by close ones who share the joy and spirituality of the month.

Many people think fasting in Ramadan is difficult, and that we lose our energy throughout the day. It is true that we might feel tired especially in July's summer heat and scorching sun, but Allah provides us with enough strength to be able to continue with our day. And thankfully, the month has passed with enough will from us to maintain our daily fast.

The true meaning of Ramadan is to feel sympathetic towards others who do not have the blessings that we do, and in this holy month it is our duty as Muslims to try and give to others. Food is always distributed in the month of Ramadan between family members but more importantly to those who are less fortunate, and it gives us a sense of fulfillment to be able to provide help to those in need. Throughout the month, money and clothes are also given out to the needy, almost on a daily basis, as there is nothing like making someone happy in the holy month.

As this month has progressed, I've realised this Ramadan has been a time for me to give instead of get like in the previous years, and that truly showed me how much more I need to concentrate on doing good deeds as well as my spirituality and connection with Allah.