Doing a PhD in Ramadhan

My religion is a big part of my life and is a key part of my identity, and as with most people it is my rock in times of uncertainty and difficulty. Hence being a Muslim in todays day and age is a bit of a challenge, especially when you are fasting and trying to finish your PhD at the same time.

The Ramadhan Researcher
Ramadan Mubarak

For Muslims Ramadhan is a time of reflection, prayer, charity and worship. It also requires all Muslims to not eat during daylight hours, so in the UK that would be from about 2:30am (sunrise) until 9:30pm (sunset), which is still not as bad as Fasting in Reykjavik. However for many PhD students fasting can be a tiring time with a drop in productivity which can leave many students feeling down. Fasting is obligatory on every Muslim so unless you are ill or infirm every Muslim must fast, so your work and your PhD is not an excuse to not fast.

In my view the fast can add a lot of spiritual benefit to a persons life. Its not just about not eating, its about reflection and becoming closer to God and cleansing ones soul. Fasting also has a lot of physical benefits; it improves brain function, improves your immune system, can help develop your eating patterns and promotes longevity in your life. Early research also suggests that fasting can combat cancer, read here, here and here for more information.

So to help people focus on the spiritual elements of fasting and to help PhD students to continue to write I want to outline my top tips to help keep productivity at a high level:

  • Eat the correct food at the right time. By far the biggest issue for many researchers is eating the wrong food ad Sunset. Many muslims tend to eat a high concentration of sugars and carbohydrates which on an empty stomach can lead to bloating, tiredness and a sugar rush. While this maybe filling at the time the next day the sugar burns very quickly leaving you hungry.
  • Drink lots of water and slow burning foods. I recommend my own special recipe of Barley flakes with chopped dates and almonds. Delicious and wholesome and does not leave you feeling too hungry during the day.
  • Write in short bursts of 1-2 hours. Me preferably I like to do a lot of my writing either late evening, so after the sunset meal until the sunrise meal or early morning. I usually take a siesta in the late afternoon which is surprisingly refreshing. These short bursts help me to stay fresh but also break up the monotony of writing.

These are just three tips, if you have any more please feel free to leave a comment, and If its really good I will add to the list.

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