June 29th saw the start of the most important month in the Islamic Calendar and for Muslims everywhere around the World. The month of Ramadan (pronounced Ramadhan or also known as ‘Ramzan’) is when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. The start of Ramadan is determined from the sighting of the new moon, likewise Eid the festival after Ramadan is also determined in the same way – once the new moon is sighted.
Fasting means not eating or drinking for many hours a day for 30 days. Contrary to popular belief and to the surprise of my colleagues that means consuming “absolutely nothing”. I have been at many times been asked if I can drink water, eat fruit etc. The answer is “No, not a drop or morsel must enter the lips!”
Fasting (abstaining from eating) may seem hard and this year it has been harder than most. This year due to being summer, the timings for fasting started before 3am to after 9.30pm. The time however, reduced as the month went by, for example the last fast finished at 9pm (Still long but less than it was).
The important reason for fasting is not only just to abstain from eating, but also to be the best that you can be, with a cleansed mind and soul and praying as much as you can. It is a time to reflect and have empathy with the poor. You can feel this through not eating and by giving charity in this month. This month means abstaining from bad deeds and being spiritual.
What this means to me?
Ramadan is a great time to cleanse, reflect and be soothed through prayer, the reading of the holy (book) Quran and being close to God (Allah). I thought this year would be particularly difficult due to the length of the fast, but it’s strange how the body can adapt. The first few fasts are always the most difficult, but after a few they become easier and the body and mind feels more secure.
It is not only a time to reflect but also to come together with your loved ones and fellow Muslims to open the fast and pray together.
This month it is also important to give to the less unfortunate or if for any reason fast can’t be kept due to illness then one can donate or feed the poor.
It is a beautiful month where prayers can be answered and any prayers and alms are rewarded more than in any other month. This makes this month very special!
The last day of Ramadan as stated before is when the moon is sited, therefore the day of Eid cannot be predicted. This year the fast lasted for 29 days. Eid fell therefore on day 30 and on a Monday 28th July. Getting time of work sometimes can also be difficult, unfortunately, my husband didn’t get the time off.
Eid is a great day of celebration. It is particularly great and fun for children, who not only get presents, money, but also get to wear their new clothes. Eid is a time of celebration, new clothes, wearing colourful bangles and nice finery. For men, new clothes and going to the mosque and offering prayers in the morning. A little sweet eaten for breakfast called “seviyan” is also a tradition.
I can only say that for me this Eid was sad due to the conflict in Palestine and I was also sorry that my husband couldn’t be there. I wish I could change things, but I guess can be of help by giving charity and praying for anyone, everywhere around the World that has troubles that they be eased and diminish (easier said but done, but prayers can help!)
One should follow Eid by keeping up the good deeds, keep praying and contemplating. It is ideal to carry on with the good deeds…. I will certainly try!