I often joke that my core sense of self can be split into three key identifiers: British Pakistani Muslim, avid tea drinker, and beauty enthusiast. Although some may not see how the trio intertwine, there is more crossover than one may imagine. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, observed by millions of Muslims worldwide, is true proof of this. It is a month of community, spiritual reflection, prayer, charity, and fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink for 30 days throughout daylight hours. For this time, I drink my morning tea before sunrise, increase my daily prayer, and slather myself in hydrating products.
Ramadan is a month of self-reflection and self-improvement. It is an opportunity for Muslims to take time to look at their everyday habits and lifestyle and try to incorporate new ways of bettering themselves that they can carry into the rest of the year. While this revolves around faith and religious practice, it goes beyond that — offering up space to be present and mindful, to take care of the body, mind, and soul, as well as give back to the local community and donate to those less fortunate.
My beauty routine is a core part of my everyday self-care and mindfulness, and Ramadan is a time when I adapt it to fit my new normal for the next 30 days. The change in routine includes waking up before sunrise for the breakfast meal of the day (suhoor or sehri), then refraining from eating and drinking until sunset, when, traditionally, a large meal is enjoyed with loved ones. (At the moment in the UK, the time in between sunrise and sunset is about 14 hours.) Following the evening meal (iftar or iftaari), I usually head to the mosque for the night prayers performed in Ramadan (Taraweeh).
As the digestive system uses a great deal of energy, I feel as though giving my body a break allows it to focus on repairing and regenerating and I see the benefits in my skin, hair, and nails. (This could also be because I’m forced to reduce my caffeine intake and sacrifice my afternoon sugary treat!) Ramadan also encourages mental well-being and, for me, beauty plays a key part in this. My skin-care routine encourages me to take time to nurture myself and prepare for the long days and nights ahead when I can focus my energy on prayer and self-reflection. Additionally, it is a time for self-love: This is the body that allows me to fast, to pray, to walk to the mosque, to cook, to work, to survive without food and water. Of course, I want to treat it the very best I can.