This article was written by Fyizah, Customer Relations Partner (Rent), and explores her personal views on Ramadan.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the Holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims. During this month, all Muslims (apart from children, pregnant women, the elderly and those who are ill) are required to fast between dawn and sunset abstaining from eating or drinking between this time.
Muslims will typically eat one meal before dawn known as ‘Suhoor’ and then one meal after sunset known as ‘Iftar’.
The first meal is eaten before the first prayer which takes place at Dawn known as the Fajr Prayer. Currently, this prayer takes place around 4.45am in London (which varies depending on location) which means many Muslims would wake up before this time to eat, pray, sleep and continue their daily routine upon waking but ensuring more time is made for prayers and good deeds such as charity.
The fast can be broken after sunset when the sunset prayer takes place known as Maghrib which currently takes place around 7.45pm in London. After this time, Muslims are free to eat and drink up until dawn if they wished to ready themselves for the next fast, where the above will be repeated.
What does Ramadan mean to me?
Even though Ramadan is universally thought of as the month of fasting and praying, for me it means that and a lot more. Ramadan is a time of giving, self-reflection, togetherness and the expression of gratitude for the blessings in one’s life.
Firstly, fasting allows me to feel the hunger and thirst that may be felt by those who have little or no food or clean drinking water. Feeling this way helps me to empathise with those facing such hardships, making me want to help and give to those in need. During this month I make conscious efforts to give money to charity.
Secondly, Ramadan gives me the opportunity to reflect on myself as a person and what I can do to better myself spiritually, mentally and physically. Consciously engaging in more prayer and recitation of the Quran (the holy book for Muslims) allows me to truly pause from the stress and worries of this world and instead focus on the words of Allah (God). This helps me remove negative thoughts and actions, allowing for both spiritual and mental healing.
Fasting also has many health benefits which have been proven by science such as the lowering of blood cholesterol. I use this month to try to get healthier by being more conscious of the foods I eat, placing more emphasis on fruits and vegetables and ensuring bad food habits are broken resulting in a healthier lifestyle which can be continued further on.
Thirdly, Ramadan is a month of togetherness. It means waking up to eat and pray together at the same time, giving my family the opportunity to spend more quality time with each other. This is sometimes difficult otherwise given our different work/social schedules.
Preparing/shopping for food and managing the house whilst fasting can be difficult. It is important to be understanding and kind to one another, helping out as much as you can. My family and I work together to ensure tasks are equally distributed and a helping hand is always offered where needed. Altogether being able to spend time with the family gives a sense of togetherness, love and understanding.
Lastly, Ramadan is a month of expressing gratitude for the blessings I have in my life. It is easy to get swept away in the worries and stresses of everyday life and we often forget how lucky we truly are. Ramadan has a beautiful way of revealing these blessings to me, making me value and cherish having a loving family, shelter and clean water to drink.