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A guide to Ramadan terms

Staff Reporter
Published: September 12, 2007, 00:29
Ramadan: The ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar.

Sawm: The Arabic word for fast.

Iftar: Breaking of the fast immediately after sunset. Iftar takes place at Maghrib as
soon as the Call to Prayer (Adhan).

Suhoor :The pre-fast meal before dawn.

Eid Al Fitr: Three-day festival marking the end of Ramadan. It takes place on the
1st of Shawal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.

Fidya: Compensation for missing a fast, for those unable to, or wrongly practicing it.
Fidya usually takes the form of donating money, foodstuffs, or sacrificing an animal.
Contrast with Kaffara (making amends).

Zakat: Stands for purification; Muslims give up a portion of wealth in excess of what
is needed for sustenance to "purify" or legitimise what they retain.

Zakat Al Fitr: The contribution given at the end of Ramadan.

Eid Mubarak: Greeting meaning "Have a happy and blessed Eid" expressed at the
end of Ramadan.

Etiquette for the non-fasting

For the non-Muslim student, Rania Al Hussaini explains the meaning of

Ramadan and how you should conduct yourself.

Ramadan Kareem (Generous Ramadan)

• Ramadan is a holy month in Islam during which fasting is obligatory for all
• It falls in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar (Hijri year).
• Fasting is the one of the five pillars of Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims
refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. At maghrib, the time
for the fourth prayer, the fast is broken and Iftar starts.
• The month is a time for piety and charity and good deeds. Muslims refrain
from smoking and talking ill of others.
• They are expected to spend a large part of their time praying and reading the
Quran and helping out by giving money to the poor and feeding them.
• Fasting develops a believer’s moral and spiritual values and keeps them away
from greed, selfishness and materialist concerns.
Behaviour code...

• Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew in public.

• Do not wear revealing clothes.
• Maintain decorum and propriety at all times.

What to do during Ramadan?

• Try to cultivate piety.

• Refrain from bad actions.
• Pray and ask for forgiveness. Ramadan is the month of forgiveness.
• Read the Holy Quran.
• Help the needy and give to the poor. Ideally, you must double whatever you
give during Ramadan, if you can afford it.
• Do not throw away leftover food. Donate it to the needy
• Join charity groups and do social work.

Symbols of Ramadan

There are some special symbolic decorations during Ramadan. Among them the
lantern and the cannon are the most popular. The lantern signifies light. The cannon
sounds the time for Iftar.

People usually eat dates and drink water to break their fast as Prophet Mohammad
(PBUH) used to do. So dates are a must on an Iftar table.

Eat healthy this Ramadan

By Rania Al Hussaini

Rania Al Hussaini spoke to Rula Ziadeh, nutrition consultant at the American

University of Sharjah, on how to keep and break your fast.


A huge Iftar

"Eating a large Iftar is not recommended in the Hadith (The Prophet Mohammad's
(PBUH) sayings and teachings)," said Rula Ziadeh. "The large influx of food
consumed after a day of fasting can cause the digestive system to 'clog'. For this
reason it is recommended that Muslims break their fast on dates and water or a
simple soup, perform the Maghrib prayer and then eat a moderate Iftar."

Spicy, hot and lots of salty foods

"If you eat too much salty food your body will retain water; you feel bloated. At the
same time, lack of water in the body makes it more ready to retain fat and other
toxins because it does not have enough fluids to flush toxins out of the body," said

Sweets and sugary food

Such foods will turn into fat, increase cholesterol levels and make you gain weight.

Too much caffeine

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate and even decaffeinated teas and coffees.

"Carbonated beverages and caffeine leach calcium from your system, which means
you feel less full all the time and tend to eat the wrong food and eat more than the
usual. Also avoid drinking tea at suhoor (dawn), as tea increases salt excretion in the
urine, which is needed for your body during fasting," she added.

Not getting enough sleep

"It is common in Ramadan for people not to get enough sleep, which can lead to
excess stress on the body. This [in turn] can trigger weight gain. So you should get
the minimum sleep hours recommended, not less than eight hours," Ziadeh said.

Skipping meals or not eating enough

Not eating enough can prove unhealthy. "Not eating the suhoor (dawn meal) triggers
a starvation response in the body, which actually slows down your metabolism for
the rest of the day," Ziadeh said.

Too much starch

"Be sure to eat the right proportions from the various food groups. Limit yourself to a
cup of any given grain per meal."

Fried fatty foods

"Fats affect the health of your heart and blood vessels, especially saturated fats.
They play a role in raising cholesterol [levels] in the bloodstream; a high blood
cholesterol level is a risk factor that increases the chances of developing heart
diseases," said Ziadeh.

Discontinuing or reducing exercises

"Most people reduce their workload saying: 'It's Ramadan, so I should rest'. But this
is untrue. Exercising will help you maintain your body weight; it will help burn
calories and get rid of stress," said Ziadeh.

Last words of advice

"Don't focus on losing weight this Ramadan. The spirit of Ramadan is for all Muslims
to share the hardships of the poor people who cannot afford several full meals a day.
So you should focus on the meaning of Ramadan, which is not just about abstaining
from eating and drinking. Your eyes, ears, and your tongue are equally obligated to
be restrained from committing any bad deeds," she said.

A balanced meal

"A balanced diet improves your blood cholesterol profile, reduces gastric acidity,
prevents constipation and other digestive problems, and contributes to an active and
healthy life style," said Rula Ziadeh.

"So one must consume the right amounts from the major food groups: bread, cereal,
milk, dairy products, meat, beans, vegetables and fruits. Because during the month-
long fast the metabolic rate of a fasting person slows down and other regulatory
mechanisms start functioning".


- "Because of the long fasting hours that follow, you should eat foods high in fibre,
such as wheat, oats, lentils, beans, whole grain rice, corn, dried fruits, vegetables.
These take a long time to digest, almost eight hours so you won't feel hungry all the
time," said Rula Ziadeh.

- Yoghurt: "Yoghurt has become one of the essential foods used to break the
Ramadan fast. It is scientifically proven that the main benefits of yoghurt are in the
digestive tract, where the friendly bacteria found in live yoghurt can aid in the
digestion process as well as to help clean the intestines and digestive tract. And the
bacteria, still present in yoghurt, upon entering the intestinal tract prevents other
bacteria in the intestines from forming harmful toxins," said Rula Ziadeh.

- Dates: 3

- Juice: 1 serving (4 oz.) of any kind of juice

- Salad (make sure that the salad dressing is not heavy)

- Vegetable soup with some pasta or crackers: 1 cup (or any other kind of

"The body's immediate need at the time of Iftar is to get an easily available energy
source in the form of glucose for the living cells, particularly the brain and nerve

"Dates and juices are good sources of sugars. So having dates and juice in the above
quantity is sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels. Also juice and
soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body," said Ziadeh