Category Archives: Ramadhan

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Ramadhan 2009/1430 around the World

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In the Quietness of Nights

In the Quietness of Nights
In the Quietness Of Nights. Image credit: htanso21.

There has not been a prophet or messenger that did not spent his nights worshipping the One Who had sent him. Qiyam Al-Layl (Night Vigil Prayer) has always been a sign of believers. The people of the Ummah that preceded us revived their nights with Prayer and supplication and besought their Lord at a time when He is closer to them. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased by him) once said to `Umar,

O `Umar! Verily, Allah has rights by night that He does not accept during the day, and verily Allah has rights by day that He does not accept during the night.

Truly, the Paradise of the believer in this world lies in his or her place of Prayer.

Night Prayer of the Prophets

“It used to be said that the characteristics of the Prophets and the righteous, the chosen ones from Mankind and whose hearts are pure, are three: They were forbearing, oft-returning (to Allah), and they all had a portion of Qiyam Al-Layl.” (Al-Fudhayl ibn `Iyadh)

Moses (peace and blessings be upon him). Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I passed by Musa on the night of my Ascension while he was in his grave praying” (Muslim, Ahmad, and An-Nasa’i).

Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him). He used to say “Verily the night and the day are two stores so look to what you do in them.” Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased by him) said regarding Prophet `Isa, “Wherever the night caught up with him, he would stand praying until the morning” (Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir).

David (peace and blessings be upon him). Prophet Muhammd said, “Dawud [i.e. David] was the most devout worshipper among the humankind” (Muslim and At-Tirmidhi).

He also said, “The most beloved of Prayers to Allah is the Prayer of Dawud, and the most beloved of fasts to Allah is the fast of Dawud. He used to sleep half of the night, stand up in Prayer a third of it, and sleep a sixth of it, and he used to fast on alternate days” (Al-Bukhari).

Solomon (peace and blessings be on him).

Prophet Muhammad said, “The mother of Sulayman ibn Dawud [Solomon, the son of David] said to Sulayman ‘O my son, do not sleep a lot at night because indeed sleeping too much at night will leave a man in poverty on the Day of Judgment” (A weak hadith narrated by Ibn Majah and Al-Bayhaqi).

Night Prayer of the Righteous

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Upon you is to observe the Night Prayer, for it is the way of the righteous that came before you” (At-Tirmidhi).

Whenever Mu`adh ibn Jabal rose to pray at night, he would call out,

O Allah, indeed the eyes of people are asleep and the stars have receded, but You are the Ever Living and Eternal. O Allah, my way to Paradise is slow and my fleeing from Hellfire is weak. O Allah, grant me Guidance from You which you return to me on the Day of Judgment, truly You do not fail in Your Promise. (Hilyat Al-Awliya by Abu Nu’aym)

Abul-`Aliyah. “We used to consider it a big sin that a man learns Qur’an then he sleeps without reciting some of it (in Prayer)” (Al-Zuhd, by Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

Al-Hasan Al-Basri. “If a slave falls asleep in prostration (out of tiredness), Allah boasts him before the Angels saying, ‘Look at My slave, he worships Me whilst his soul is with Me and he is in prostration'” (Al-Zuhd by Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

He also said,

By Allah, I have accompanied a people who spent these dark nights prostrating and praying to their Lord. Their tears would flow down their cheeks, one time they would be bowing and another time they are in prostration. They beseech and implore their Lord to free themselves (from the Hellfire) and the long night did not bore them because of the hope in their hearts for the Day of Return. May Allah have mercy upon a person who competes with them in these deeds and who is not content with (please clarify) falling short. Truly, the world has cut off its inhabitants and the deeds of a people are only returned to them. (Mukhtasar Qiyam Al-Layl, by Al-Marwazi)

Once, it was said to Yunus ibn `Ubayd,

Have you ever seen anyone performs as the deeds of Al-Hasan Al-Basri? He said, “By Allah, I have not seen anyone who even speaks like him so how can I see anyone do like his deeds!” His words of admonition used to make the hearts weep while the admonition of other people does not even make the eyes weep. (Tanbih Al-Mughtarin, by Al-Sha`rani)

Al-Rabi` ibn Khuthaym. He bought a horse for thirty thousand and used it to partake in battles. One day he sent his servant Yasar (on an errand) and tied his horse. When the servant returned, he said, “O Rabi`! Where is your horse? He said, ‘It has been stolen.’ He said, ‘While you were looking!’ He said, ‘Yes, Yasar.

However, I was beseeching my Lord the Almighty and there is nothing to distract me from beseeching my Lord.’ Then he made du`aa’ (supplication) for the thief saying, ‘O Allah, he stole from me and it was not I who stole it from him. O Allah, if he is wealthy, guide him and if he is poor then give him wealth.'” (Al-Zuhd, by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

Hasan Al-Banna. “The minutes of the night are expensive, so do not render them cheap by heedlessness.”

One of the Salaf used to say, “For 40 years, nothing has upset me as much as the rise of dawn (i.e. because it marks the end of Tahajjud, the optional late night Prayer).”

`Amr ibn Al-Aswad. He used to have an expensive garment of 200 dirhams that he wore exclusively for the night Prayer (Al-Bidayah Wa An- Nihayah, by Ibn Kathir).

Imam Hamza ibn Habib. Ibn Habib is one of the Seven Reciters, whose readings of the Qur’an are authentic. Muhammad Ibn Al-Fudhayl said about him,

I do not consider that Allah keeps punishment away from the people of Kufa except by (the virtues of) Hamza. He used to read the Qur’an until the people departed, then he would pray four units, then he would pray between Zhuhr and `Asr Prayers, and between Maghrib and `Isha’ Prayers. One of his neighbors said that he never used to sleep at night and that they would often hear him recite the Qur’an melodiously. Hamza himself used to say, “I would look into the mushaf (copy of Qur’an) until I feared losing my sight!” (Ma’rifat al-Qurraa’ Al-Kibar)

Abu Ja`far. He is also one of the Seven Reciters. Nafi` (may Allah be pleased by him) said,

When Abu Ja`far was being washed (for his funeral), they saw that between his neck and heart was a script like that of the mushaf. No one from among those present doubted that this was the light of the Qur’an. (Siyar A`lam An-Nubala’, by Imam Ad-Dhahabi)

`Abdullah ibn Ghalib Al-Hadani. It is narrated in Mukhtasar Qiyam Al-Layl by Imam Al-Samarqandi that

When the enemy approached (in battle), he would say “What can sadden me in this world? By Allah, there is no happiness in it for the wise one. By Allah, were it not for my love of spending the night in prostration and placing my forehead down before You. O Master, in-between movement of limbs and joints (i.e. praying), in the depth of the nights all in hope of Your reward and Pleasure, were it not for this, I would have hoped to leave this world and its people.’ Then he would break the scabbard of his sword and go forth to fight until he was killed. When he was buried, they found the fragrance of musk at his grave and the people began to take the dust of his grave as if it were musk.

A man once saw him in a dream and said, ‘O Abu Faras, what have you done?’ He said, ‘The best of deeds.’ He asked, ‘Where have you gone?’ He said, ‘To Paradise,’ He said, ‘With what?’ He said, ‘By having conviction (yaqin) and standing for long periods in Tahajjud (night Prayer) and suffering from thirst in the midday heat (i.e. fasting).’ He said, ‘And what is this sweet fragrance at your grave?’ He said, ‘That is the fragrance of recitation and thirst.’ He said, ‘Advise me.’ He said, ‘Seize goodness for yourself; do not miss nights and days, for indeed I have seen that the righteous ones attain piety through piety.

Qatadah. He would say, “A hypocrite does not remain vigil at night (in Prayer)” (Hilyat Al-Awliya’, by Abu Nu’aym).

Abu Salman Al-Darani. He said, “If it was not for the Night Prayer, I wouldn’t have liked to remain in this world.”

Prophet Muhammad said,

“Our Lord descends during the last third of each night to the lower heaven, and says, ‘Is there anyone who calls on Me that I may respond to them? Is there anyone who asks Me that I may give unto them? Is there anyone who requests My forgiveness that I may forgive them?'” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Rabi`ah Al-`Abidah. When questioned by her husband as to why she gets up to pray at night, she simply said, “I only rise up when I am called” (Sifat As-Safwah by Ibn Al-Qayyim).

`Utbah. He would be found walking along the seashore at night saying,

O Allah, if You punish me, then I do love You,

And if You have mercy upon me, then still I love You.

Allah says in a hadith qudsi (Divine Hadith), “O My Slaves, it is only your deeds that I record for you; then I shall reward you for them” (Muslim).


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Du`a: Allah is Near His Servants

Surat al-Baqara: Verse 186

And when My servants ask you about Me, of course, I am near. I respond to the call of one when he prays to Me;’so they should respond to Me, and have faith in Me so that they may be on the right path. (Verse 186)

Allah is near His servants

Injunctions and merits concerning fasting and Ramadan were mentioned in three previous verses. This strain continues even after the present verse when details of fasting and I’tikaf appear in a long verse. In between, this brief verse has been introduced to persuade of Allah to obey the commands of Allah by recognizing how He, in His special grace, hears and answers their prayers. There is no doubt about fasting being a difficult obligation despite many concessions and permissions. It is to make the trial bearable that special grace has been mentioned – ‘I am near My servants. When they pray, I answer their prayers and take care of what they need.’

Under these conditions, it is befitting that servants of Allah should bear by hardships that come during the performance of given injunctions. Ibn Kathir has pointed out to another wisdom behind this sentence appearing in the middle of injunctions of fasting. According to him, this verse gives a hint that a prayer (du'a' : du’a) made at the completion of a fast is accepted, therefore, one should be very particular about making prayers at that time. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said:

The prayer made by one who is fasting at the time of his iftar is accepted.

This is why the blessed Companion, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him would assemble his family members around him at the time of iftar and would pray.


By saying inni qarib (I am near) in this verse, it has been hinted that prayer should be made slowly and quietly; to raise voice while praying is not desirable. This is confirmed by the background in which this verse was revealed. According to Ibn Kathir, a visitor from a village asked the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him: “Tell me if our Lord is near us, then, we shall pray in a lowered voice; and if He is far, we shall call Him with raised voices.” Thereupon, this verse was revealed.

Ma`arif al-Qur’an, Mufti Shafi `Uthmani

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Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life

Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life
Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life. Image credit: euthman

The month of Ramadan is a gift from our Lord. Its days are the sweetest of days and its nights are the most rewarding. Allah gives us this gift so we may purify ourselves, fortify our character, and aspire to greater spiritual heights, thereby attaining eternal bliss. It is a time for us to clean our slates and be forgiven our sins. It is a real opportunity for us to renew our commitment to our faith, perfect our moral character, and earn Allah’s pleasure.

This is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would give glad tidings to his Companions on the arrival of Ramadan:

The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month, wherein Allah has enjoined fasting. It is a time when the gates of Paradise are opened, those of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained. In it is a night greater than a thousand months. Whoever is denied its goodness is truly bereft. [Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Nasâ’î]

Ibn Rajab says:

How can there be anything but glad tidings for the believer to hear that the gates of Paradise are open? How can there be anything but glad tidings for the sinner to hear that the gates of Hell are closed? How can any sane person not embrace the glad tidings that the devils are chained? How can this time of year even be compared to any other time?

Three Simple Steps

There are three simple steps we should take if we wish to make Ramadan a starting point to bettering our lives.

1. First, start out by feeling more responsible about how you behave in Ramadan.

In light of the great opportunities that Ramadan presents us with, we should feel an acute sense of responsibility about everything we say and do in Ramadan. This is the first critical step. We are all bound by the deeds that we do, and we will be held accountable by Allah to fulfill our duties and shun sinful deeds.

2. Work to infuse yourself with the spirit of this special month.

Ramadan has its own incomparable atmosphere. No other time of year is quite like it. Allah has singled out Ramadan for many blessings. He has given the month a number of distinctions. The most emphatic of these is when the Prophet declared that: “Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith, seeking Allah’s reward, will be forgiven all previous sins.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

This is an immense opportunity to renew our faith. The chance to put our accumulated sins behind us really should inspire us and invigorate us.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Our faith gets worn out and shabby just like our clothing, so ask Allah to renew your faith.” [Sahîh al-Jâmi` al-Saghîr (1590)]

The special atmosphere of Ramadan helps us to put our faith into practice, ad it is through practice that we truly reform our inner selves. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Knowledge comes by way of learning, a patient character comes by practicing patience, striving for good brings good, and shunning evil protects one from evil.”

3. Set for yourself practical and attainable Ramadan resolutions.

We should consider what we wish to accomplish in the blessed days and nights of Ramadan. We should be confident about ourselves and desire to do as much as we can, but at the same time be realistic about our time and our capabilities. We should set for ourselves genuinely reachable goals.

Pick up a pen and paper and write down what you want to accomplish this Ramadan. Plan out your Ramadan schedule so to your goals and aims will be perfectly clear to you and as well as how you are going to fit those goals into your already busy schedule. It is important to plan well, since as the old saying goes: “Whoever plans poorly, plans for failure.”

Be honest with yourself. Write down what you wish to achieve in all aspects of your life: in your faith, character, interpersonal dealings, cultural development, et cetera. Avoid negative statements. Be positive in your choice of words, like: “I want to do so and so.” “I want to achieve such and such.”

After Ramadan

Ramadan is a month wherein it is easy to perform good deeds. We observe the fast on a daily basis for the sake of our Lord. It is a time when worship and the remembrance of Allah become a believer’s habit. The fast schedules our daily activities. We start our day with our pre-dawn meal and end it by breaking our fasts. We balance out our bodily nourishment with our spiritual enrichment.

Ramadan is a practical course for us in moral development, charity, and good conduct. We are reminded to help the less fortunate and to strive against our selfish tendencies. We must make sure to make use of what we learn in this course after the course comes to an end.

Ibn Rajab identifies two kinds of resolve: The first is the resolve we have to undertake a course of action. This is the resolve that gets things going. The second kind of resolve is the resolve to persevere. This is the resolve that gets us to our goals.

The devils are chained for a whole moth. In this time, we can accustom ourselves to improving our religious observance and our character. We should keep in mind that our Lord is our Lord in Ramadan and throughout the year. What we achieve in Ramadan is a real achievement when it becomes part and parcel of our lives.


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When Should Children Be Encouraged to Fast?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, thanks for your question. We implore Allah to guide our children to the best and to guide us all to that which pleases Him, Amen.

It is well known that fasting, like other obligatory acts of worship, becomes mandatory when the person reaches the age of puberty. As regards children, we would like to stress that it is highly desirable to encourage them to fast when they reach the age of seven if they are physically capable of doing so.

Here, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, states the following:

It is encouraged that children observe fasting when they reach the age of seven, if they are physically capable of bearing it.

Some Muslim scholars state that the child should be physically disciplined if he does not fast by the age of 10, which is the same rule that is applied to prayer. This is stated in the book of Al-Mughni. Al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwadh (may Allah be pleased with her) said about fasting `Ashoura’ at the time when it was mandatory to fast it and not voluntary: We used to make our young children fast, and we made them a toy made out of wool. If one of the them cried (wanting) food, we would give him the toy to distract him until it was time to break the fast. (Reported by Al-Bukhari ). (`Ashoura’ is the tenth day of the month of Muharram. Although fasting this day is now voluntary, the majority of Muslims usually fast it.)

Some people are quite lenient and lax when it comes to making their children fast. A situation may even arise where the young child feels enthusiastic and chooses to fast and is physically capable of doing so, then his father or mother order him to break his fast claiming that it is out of sympathy. Little do they know that real sympathy is in stressing the importance of fasting and teaching the child about it. Allah Almighty says, (O you who believe! Ward yourselves and your families off from a fire (Hell) whose fuel is of men and stones, over which are appointed angels stern and severe, who do not disobey the commands they receive from Allah, and execute that which they are commanded.) (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Also, we must pay extra attention to the young girl when she first starts fasting after she reaches puberty. There is a possibility that she will fast while she has her period (the first time) out of shame or shyness, and end up not making up the days later on.

Excerpted with modifications from

Moreover, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, adds:

Fasting, like all the other obligations in Islam, becomes mandatory at bulugh. That is when a person reaches the age of puberty. There is a Hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Tell your children to pray when they are seven years old and discipline them if they don’t when they are ten years old.”

The same can be said about fasting. That is, we should encourage our children to fast when they are seven years old and we should emphasize fasting to them when they are ten, but it becomes obligatory when they reach the age of puberty.


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Ramadan & Weight Lifting: How to Maintain Muscle & Strength

Ramadan Weight Lifting
Ramadan & Weight Lifting. Image credit: Noushad Akambadam.

Ramadan 2009 starts August 21st and lasts until September 20th. During this period, practicing Muslims fast from dusk till dawn. This is a complete fast: you eat nothing, but also don’t drink. Not even water.

Weight lifting can be hard during Ramadan. Especially since it falls during the warmer summer months this year and the following ones. This post will teach you how to train and what to eat for best results during Ramadan.

What Is Ramadan?
The 9th month in the Islamic calender is the Ramadan. All practicing Muslims drink and eat nothing from dusk till dawn. The goal of fasting is to teach you patience, discipline, modesty & spirituality.

Ramadan stresses prayers, fasting, charity and self-accountability. You want to gain awareness and empathy for the poor. Practicing Muslims pray 5 times per day, including at dusk and dawn.

The Islamic calender is 11-12 days shorter than the solar year. This is because it’s a lunar calender, based on moon cycles. That’s why the Ramadan migrates through the seasons. Example:

  • Ramadan 2009: 21st August – 20th September
  • Ramadan 2010: 10th August – 9th September
  • Ramadan 2011: 1st August – 30th August
  • Ramadan 2012: 20th July – 19th August
  • Ramadan 2013: 9th July – 8th August

Ramadan during the summer is harder: longer fasts and shorter feeds. Weight lifting gets harder too because you can’t drink during the fast. And your nights are shorter which can cause sleep deprivation.

Common Mistakes During Ramadan.
Lack of planning is the biggest mistake you can do during Ramadan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Make a plan for your diet, training, job, sleep. More errors to avoid:

  • Not Training. You won’t lose much muscle & strength if you stop weight lifting during Ramadan. But you’ll tend to stick to your diet less. And this can cause more muscle/strength loss and fat gains than not lifting.
  • Not Eating Healthy. Lots of people gain fat during Ramadan. The main reason for this is that a lot of the Ramadan foods are high in sugars & fats. Example: harira soup, often served with bread/dates.
  • Not Eating Enough. Food is energy. If you don’t eat enough you’ll lack energy at the gym and won’t recover well. You must focus on caloric dense foods to get the most out of your feeding window.
  • Not Sleeping Enough. Short nights can cause sleep deprivation. This can kill your motivation to go to the gym. Consider naps.

Popular Fasting Myths.
I highly recommend you get a copy of Eat Stop Eat. It has all the research regarding fasting and its benefits. Some myths:

  • Metabolism Slows Down. Studies show that fasting doesn’t decrease your metabolism. And more frequent meals don’t increase it neither.
  • Muscle & Strength Loss. Fasting doesn’t cause muscle loss. You’ll most likely feel stronger & more aggressive training fasted.
  • Low Energy. You’ll have energy if you eat enough during your feeding window. Productivity will increase since you’re not wasting time on food.

When To Lift Weights During Ramadan.
Train fasted: 2 hours before you break your fast. This way you can eat several times post workout to help recovery. You also maximize your feeding window since you don’t spend it training.

You should feel stronger and more aggressive training fasted. If you don’t: you’re not eating enough food during the feed. Or it’s psychological.

Predators in the wild only hunt when they are hungry.

– Ori Hofmekler, The Warrior Diet.

How to Lose Fat During Ramadan. Fasting improves fat loss. You can get away with more carbs than you would usually, without gaining fat. Tips:

  • Get Stronger. Strength training prevents muscle loss. Keep lifting weights and work at getting stronger. Check StrongLifts 5×5.
  • Eat Healthy. Eat whole, unprocessed foods 90% of the time. Ground round, chicken breast, tuna cans, oats, rice, pasta, bananas, eggs, …
  • Drink Water. Avoid coffee & green tea: they’re diuretics. Drink water to avoid dehydration. Aim for 1 gallon between dusk & dawn.
  • Avoid Junk Food. Lots of people gain weight during Ramadan because they gorge themselves with foods that aren’t healthy. Avoid.
  • Avoid Cardio. You can’t drink water during the fast so cardio or HIIT is a bad idea. Stick with lifting only until Ramadan ends.

How to Gain Weight During Ramadan
. Gorging yourself with food goes against the spirit of Ramadan. Meet your daily caloric needs but don’t be a pig. Tips:

  • GOMAD. Drink 4 liters whole milk per day. Spread your intake between dusk and dawn. Read the GOMAD guide for more info.
  • Eat Caloric Dense Foods. White paste is the best food you can choose: 250g contains 1000kcal. Try also: rice, mixed nuts, bananas.
  • Get Stronger. The fastest way to build muscle mass is to get stronger. Squat heavy & frequently. Check the StrongLifts 5×5 routine.
  • Make Liquid Meals. Digest faster than solid meals. Drink lots of whole milk. Make smoothies: banana, oats, plain fat free yogurt, milk.
  • Drink Water. Milk is 87% water so you won’t need to drink that much water on top of your daily gallon of whole milk.
  • Use Fitday. Track everything. Aim for +5000kcal/day. 1 gallon whole milk and 500g pasta per day equals 4500kcal.

Ramadan & StrongLifts 5×5
. Training fasted works if you eat well during the feeding window. Thirst can be a problem if you’re used to drinking a lot or if it’s warm. Best is to cut down your workout time. Tips:

  • Train Fasted. Train 2 hours before breaking your fast. This way you can eat several meals post workout to help your recovery.
  • Switch to 3×5. Do 3×5 instead of 5×5 on all exercises (Deadlift 1×5). Keep doing the StrongLifts 5×5 routine 3x/week.
  • Drop The Assistance Exercises. Do Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Inverted Rows only during the Ramadan period.

Example Ramadan Training & Diet Plan.
The length of fast/feed changes as the days go by and depending on the season. In 2009 these are the starting and ending times of Ramadan in Brussels, Belgium:

  • First day: 21st August 2009: 4:22am – 8:57pm
  • Last day: 20th September 2009: 5:32am – 7:50pm

Ramadan gets easier as the days go by since the fast gets 2 hours shorter. Sleep deprivation can be problem and will kill your motivation. Consider naps. Example schedule during Ramadan:

  • 7pm: lift weights. 3-4 compound exercises for 1 hour max.
  • 9pm: break fast. Proteins & carbs. Pasta, tomato sauce, ground round.
  • 10pm: proteins & carbs. Example: tuna, brown rice, pineapple.
  • 11pm: light pre-bed meal. Cottage cheese, berries, ground flax seeds.
  • 11:30pm: bedtime
  • 3:30am: breakfast: eggs, veggies, meat. Back in bed after 1st prayer.
  • 7am: wake up, get ready for work
  • 1pm: 30mins nap
  • 5pm: 1 hour nap pre-workout

While Ramadan is challenging this summer with the short feeding times, don’t let it get into your head. You can progress regardless. I won’t do Ramadan since I’m atheist. But I fast 2x/week for 24h. And training is going great.


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