Observing Ramadan as a Resident

April 3, 2023

Learn from Internal Medicine resident Dr. Schaza Rana about a day in the life of a Muslim resident during Ramadan!

Hi, I’m Dr. Schaza Rana, one of the interns from the Internal Medicine Residency. Along with being a doctor, I’m a proud, practicing Muslim. Allow me to teach you about the holy month of Ramadan (which falls from March 22 to April 21 this year) and walk you through a “normal” day for a resident who’s also observing Ramadan!

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is one of the five major pillars of Islam, the other four including a belief in the oneness of God, five daily prayers, obligatory charity and Hajj. It is also mandatory for every healthy adult Muslim to fast during the month, which translates into a complete abstinence from food, water and sexual intimacy between dawn and dusk daily. Along with giving up these physical desires, Muslims are encouraged to practice self-control, sacrifice and spirituality. Most Muslims aim to complete the recitation of the Holy Quran at least once during the month along with distributing the annual obligatory charity, “Zakat” (2.5% of one’s total savings/possessions), to the poor and less fortunate. 

So, let’s move on to how the fun starts!

4:30 a.m. – Time to wake up for the predawn meal called “Suhur.” This is probably the most important time of the day and will determine how the rest of it goes because you’ll need to pack up enough calories to endure 14 hours of fasting. Sleepy eyed, you find yourself in the kitchen quickly preparing a meal while getting ready for work and going over some of your patients in EPIC. About an hour later as sunlight begins to emerge, it’s time for morning prayer, “Fajr,” and the beginning of your fast. You then rush off to work, listening to the recitation of the Quran, which reinvigorates your soul and gives you immense strength to prepare for another productive day at work!

7 a.m. – Work begins as usual. As the first few hours go by, all the calories from the “parathas” (a type of flatbread) you ate earlier hold up well. However, when noon hits, the first thought of food comes to your mind. You could really do with an iced caramel macchiato or a slice of pizza. Only eight more hours to go until sunset! As energy levels steadily drop, you complete your notes and find time to say the afternoon prayer, “Zuhr.”

5:30 p.m. – Time to head home and squeeze in an hour of sleep to get you closer to sunset. You’re greeted by your energetic 5-year-old daughter, who tells you all about her school day. After bonding with her, you complete the third prayer of the day, “Asr,” and nap. Now with only an hour to go until 8 p.m., you head to the kitchen to prepare dinner, called the “Iftar.” The entire family gathers at the dinner table, and you break the fast with a date and by thanking God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon you!

After a sumptuous meal, you perform the evening prayer, “Maghrib,” and try to squeeze in 30 – 45 minutes of studying before heading to the mosque for the night prayer, “Isha,” around 9:30 p.m. This prayer is followed by a special prayer specific to Ramadan called “Taraweeh.” Mosques around the world aim to complete the entire recitation of the Quran through this prayer, which lasts up to 1.5 hours on average. After experiencing the spiritually uplifting atmosphere of the mosque, you head back home reenergized and ready for tomorrow. It’s nearly midnight now. Goodnight!

Iftar with friends that are family.

The challenges of working as a resident during the month of Ramadan can be tremendous as you’re often sleep deprived, tired and of course hungry. Having colleagues who are mindful of your challenges makes everything more manageable. I hope that a peek into this beautiful month helps you understand the spirituality and principles behind these practices. As the month concludes, it is celebrated by a festival of fun, laughter and amazing food called “Eid!”

Learn more about the Internal Medicine residency program at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.