How to Fast for Ramadan

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Fasting from sunrise to sunset every day is a crucial part of Ramadan, the annual, month-long Muslim celebration that marks Allah's revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad. These tips will help you stay strong throughout.

Step 1: Start on time
Ramadan's start date differs from year to year, so consult your local mosque or a reputable web site to find out what day and at what time it begins in your area.

Tip
Those exempt from fasting include children under age 12; menstruating, pregnant, and breastfeeding women; the frail and elderly; those who are not capable of understanding why they're fasting; and people whose health would be compromised by fasting, like diabetics.

Step 2: Stay hydrated
Starting the night before the first fast day, and every night thereafter during the month-long holiday, drink plenty of liquids. Food and beverages are prohibited from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan; this will help you stay hydrated.

Step 3: Eat a good breakfast
Eat a balanced pre-sunrise meal, often known as suhoor or sehri, to prepare your body for a day of fasting. Include whole grains, like whole wheat bread or oatmeal; a protein, like eggs or yogurt; a healthy fat, such as nuts or an avocado; and some fresh fruit.

Step 4: Begin the fast
Say the appropriate prayers and begin fasting when the sky first starts to lighten on the horizon. Smoking, using perfume, and having sexual relations are also forbidden from sunup to sundown.

Tip
Avoid strenuous exercise while fasting so you don't become dehydrated. If you have a regular fitness routine, cut down on the intensity and duration.

Step 5: Do good deeds
Use your extra free time for charitable acts, reading the Koran, and performing daily prayers.

Step 6: Break your fast
Break your fast at sunset with the meal known as iftar. Say the appropriate prayers; then start out slowly, with a sip of water or milk, and a date or other fruit. Eat a variety of healthy foods to ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients.

Tip
Don't stuff yourself at sunset. Eating a few mini-meals throughout the evening is better for your digestive system.

Step 7: Repeat
Repeat for the remainder of Ramadan, which lasts 29 or 30 days. End with the three-day celebration known as Eid-al-Fitr, during which fasting is forbidden and the wearing of new clothes is encouraged.

Did You Know?
Because the Muslim calendar follows the cycles of the moon, years are only 354 days long, and the months pass through all the seasons every 32½ years.q2OT9P2JS2E