My first Ramadan with a full-time job

Ramadan is a month that helps us to learn patience, watch our language, and feel for the poor - and not just spend our days abstaining from food and drink.

Finding a balance in your life can always be tough, let alone during Ramadan.

This year, for the first time in Ramadan, I held a full-time job and needed to find a way to juggle my professional duties, religious beliefs and health.

Ramadan is a month that helps us to learn patience, watch our language, and feel for the poor - and not just spend our days abstaining from food and drink.

Working in the media, specifically in a newspaper, has been challenging.

Although legally I am supposed to work six hours, as a matter of fact, news never stops landing on your desk. Working in a fast-paced environment can sometimes make a person impatient - including myself, at times.

During the first week of Ramadan, I found myself struggling not to be on the edge of my seat.

That is where prayers come in. During a busy schedule, I would still take a moment to carry my religious duties and pray duhur (afternoon) and asur (late afternoon) prayers. Praying gives me a sense of closeness to Allah and washes me with peace.

Although I read the Quran during the whole year, reading the Quran during Ramadan is different. It is the month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

I always like to spend about an hour reading the Quran after iftar. The Quran has 114 chapters and it is divided into 30 equal parts, and during Ramadan we try our best to finish reading the Quran - and more than once.

Although I had a few trials and errors in fulfilling my mental and spiritual duties, that did not apply to my health.

As a health freak, I already had a plan set up for how to eat and exercise during Ramadan to ensure I didn't lose muscle mass or strength while fasting.

It's simple: eat a clean diet - complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat - and hit the gym in an intense but short session a few hours after iftar.

With that regime, I was still able to squat with a barbell stacked with my body weight.

Reflecting on what I have done during Ramadan with my first full-time job, I believe I managed it very well in all three aspects in my life. Everything has its time, everything its place.

* Amna Al Haddad, from Dubai, is a reporter with The National

Published: August 29, 2011 04:00 AM

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