Ramadan 2022: A Day in the Life of Naved Bakali

Posted by Becca Parkinson - Wednesday, 6 Apr 2022


This April, Manchester University Press is running a series of blog posts to mark the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, charity and community.

Today, Naved Bakali, co-editor of The rise of global Islamophobia in the War on Terror, is writing about what Ramadan means to him, and what a typical day looks like for him during the holy month.

My name is Naved Bakali. I reside in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I’m an Assistant Professor of Anti-Racism Education at the University of Windsor. Below is a typical day for me in the holy month of Ramadan.

It may be worth briefly discussing how I conceptualize Ramadan as a part of my life before discussing the various activities that I engage with throughout this month. For me, Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal. I strongly believe in the importance of maintaining a balance between the mind, body, and soul. I find that the spiritual component of this triad requires an occasional renewal in my life. One can think of it as a sort of spiritual ‘tune up’. Spirituality is something that can become routine and mundane when not given proper thought and reflection. Ramadan is when I consciously make an effort to invest in this thought and reflection to help rejuvenate the spirituality that is neglected or not given its due throughout the year. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of my day.

One can think of it as a sort of spiritual ‘tune up’

Wake up time! (4:15-6:30am)

I start my day much earlier than usual throughout the month of Ramadan. I do my best to wake up well before the beginning of the dawn prayer (fajr), which commences about an hour and a half (depending on the time of year) before sunrise. At this time I prepare a light breakfast meal, usually consisting of fruits, cereal, bagels, and other light foods to give me some energy throughout the day. I’ll also try to drink between 700ml to 1000ml of water. With what time remains before the start of the dawn prayer, I try to offer some optional prayers. Ramadan isn’t just about adjusting one’s mealtimes. There needs to be a conscious effort to engage in some additional spiritual renewal through prayer and contemplation. Once the time for the dawn prayer has begun, I aim to observe it in congregation at the local mosque.

The grind (7:30am-4pm)

If I manage to sneak in a few minutes after the dawn prayer and before it’s time to get the kids ready for school, I gladly take a brief siesta (I’ll be lucky if I can get 30 to 60 minutes here). If not, then the grind begins! I help get the kids ready for school, drop them off and then go straight to work. As of now, I’m still working remotely, so this means coming home (and resisting the urge to conk out on my nice comfy bed) and sitting at my desk, pounding away on my laptop. Nothing overly interesting here, just the stuff that academics typically work on: teaching, grading, committee work, writing projects (like my project with Manchester University Press!), and meeting with students.

I take frequent breaks throughout this time. I often suffer from the phenomenon of ‘Ramadan brain’. Typically, this will manifest as forgetfulness, being unable to focus, and other things that result from tiredness and feeling a bit hungry. The breaks help to deal with this and enable me to get through the day.

Leisure time (6pm-8pm)

After work and before breaking the fast, I try to take a much-needed nap (this is super helpful if, like me, you suffer from Ramadan brain). After naptime is over, I try to put in some time to read my portion of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the Muslim holy book. Muslims believe this text to be the words of God and a source of guidance. The Qur’an is divided into 30 roughly equally sized sections. Each section is called a juz. Many Muslims in this month read the Qur’an in its entirety throughout the month by reading a juz each day (some will complete multiple readings of the Qur’an throughout the month). After completing my portion for the day, I’ll spend time with my family and kids engaging in various Ramadan-themed games or activities. This can include quiz games, reading stories together, talking about what good things we can do together in the month of Ramadan and thereafter.

Breaking the fast and restart! (8pm-11pm)

We break the fast after the sun sets, which, depending on the time of the year and where you are geographically, can be quite late into the evening. In the spring months it is roughly around 8pm in Canada – so this constitutes a 15 hour fast. Breaking the fast is family time, where we all sit and enjoy a meal together. This involves an assortment of special Ramadan food items including fruits, fried foods, and various rice and meat dishes. I try to avoid eating too much, as it’s just not a pretty situation after words when I indulge (in my twenties, it was a different story!)

After breaking the fast and observing the sunset prayer, I do my best to attend the evening prayers in congregation at the local mosque. In Ramadan there’s a special prayer that is observed alongside the evening prayers, called the tarawih prayer. This is an opportunity to hear more verses of the holy Quran recited in a beautiful and melodious way. After tarawih I typically stumble home exhausted and half asleep, crawling into bed only to repeat the process in a few hours. 

Naved Bakali is co-editor of The rise of global Islamophobia in the War on Terror, which is due to be published in September 2022.

Look out for the other blogs in our Ramadan 2022 series.

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