For Muslims across the world the last month has been a time of strengthening and renewing their faith and following the teaching of the Quran.
Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam and is observed by abstaining from acts of sin, praying five times and day and not eating or drinking from dusk until dawn.
It would be expected that the physical demands of Ramadan would mean that there would be no energy left for any other activities, but in many cases it is quite the opposite.
Banker Mohamed Abdin, is one of the many Muslims across London who have found unique ways to maintain their fitness during the holy month.
“I’ve tried working out over the years at many different times during the day and I’ve found that for me, midnight is the sweet spot,” he said.
The 25-year-old first began fasting as a child and has continued to do so every year after. Throughout his teenage years and adulthood, he became more invested in personal fitness and opted to plan around Ramadan as oppose to stopping exercise for the entirety of the month.
“Most people will end up shifting their routine in one way or another during Ramadan, especially when it comes to training. A lot of people, including myself, find it more demanding to actually train whilst in the fasting hours.
“For me, midnight is the most convenient time. I’ve had enough time to digest my food, do my prayers and the gym is nice and empty.
He added: “I find that although the timing of my training has shifted, the intensity remains – and to be able to maintain that level of intensity I need all the energy and water I can get my hands on.”
‘An indescribable feeling’
There are over one million followers of Islam in London and an estimated 1.8 billion followers around the world. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Mohamed does not embark on his late night gym sessions by himself.
“I’m grateful I have a couple of friends that I train with during Ramadan. I call them friends but we are brothers,” he said.
“They are my accountability partners and knowing that they are fasting with me allows me to really push through the month, in the spirit of community.
“Having a unified cause and struggle bonds people more than anything else could, and being able to break fast with those same brothers and then push our bodies to their physical limits – it’s just an indescribable feeling.”
The West Londoner’s day job as a banker would normally see him working traditional 9am – 5pm hours in an office, an especially gruelling task when the respite of a lunch break is not available. However, Mohamed’s workplace have adjusted his hours in line with government recommendations for those observing religious obligations.
“In terms of my day job, I can only extend my gratitude concerning how flexible they have been able to be,” he added.
“In the past, I’ve worked a straight 9-5 shift before and that makes it quite tough to get a full night’s sleep seeing as I stay awake until 4am to eat my final meal and do my nightly prayers.
“The flexibility offered to me this year has allowed me to maintain a routine. It has benefited me and enabled me to keep up with every aspect of my life without having to compromise any, especially sleep”.
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As employers become more educated on the physical toll of fasting, measures are being introduced to support staff working in all professions.
This year has even seen the introduction of water breaks during Premier League football games to accommodate for players’ breaking their fast during late kick-offs.
Alongside his job as a banker, Mohamed also uses his social media platforms and YouTube channel to promote mental and physical well-being.
‘It’s more than just not eating’
Whilst fasting is an important part of observing Ramadan, Mohamed insists that it goes beyond not consuming food or drink during daylight hours.
“There are many benefits to fasting, and the unified struggle is a big one. However, there are plenty of physical benefits to fasting too. It cleanses the body, it purifies our instincts,” he said.
“We are held accountable for everything we put in us. Everything we consume, both in the physical and mental capacity. We are told to limit our distractions and align our focus to what matters. The family around us, the present moment.”
It really is our version of a clean slate, and the goal is to get better every Ramadan and to carry those behaviours through with you until the next Ramadan, where we try again to strive for improvement.”