Ramadan: an interview with Sairah
This week, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims, during which they fast (no food or drink) from dawn until dusk.
Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims as it is during Ramadan that the Qur’an, the holy book for Muslims, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Allah (God). The blessings for a person’s good actions are multiplied in this month, and so you are likely to see Muslims not only fasting but also doing more charitable work and striving to improve their character and relationships with others.
We caught up with our colleagues to find out more about Ramadan, and what it’s like to fast:
What’s your name and where do you work?
My name is Sairah, I work in the Accounting and Outsourcing department in Birmingham. I’m mixed race, half Pakistani, half English.
What does Ramadan mean to you?
Ramadan is really a time for me to reset, both my body and my mind. It gives me the opportunity to humble myself, to reflect on the past 11 months and to be more conscious about the things I consume – both physically and mentally.
How do you structure your day in Ramadan?
My day starts with waking up for Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal before the fast starts) which falls around 3:30am at the start of Ramadan this year, gradually getting earlier. I will eat something wholesome such as porridge, some fruit, and a lot of water. I’ll then pray the morning prayer which takes around four minutes, and get a few more hours of sleep in before I commute to work (or work from home). I’ll continue my day as usual, being conscious of the activities I engage in. For example, instead of putting the radio on, I’ll listen to something beneficial such as a podcast. Around 8:45ish in the evening, the sun is setting, and it’s time to break my fast. I’ll generally visit my dad’s house where we have a large family dinner. I’ll start with one date and some water, pray the evening prayer, and then eat Iftaar (evening meal to break the fast). Many community dinners are arranged during Ramadan, so I like to sometimes visit the mosque where people gather together to do this!
How do you find fasting from a spiritual and practical perspective?
Spiritually, fasting makes me so much more conscious of the things I listen to, read, engage in, and say. During the month, I’ve got a lot more free time (you’d be surprised how much time we spend on food and drink) and this allows me to spend more time with family, friends, reading and listening to beneficial material. The only thing I struggle with perhaps is the change of sleep cycle!
What do you look forward to the most in Ramadan?
The vibe. The sense of community is much stronger during Ramadan. Last year on my way to the mosque to break my fast, a community dinner was being held in Mosely, Birmingham where I was kindly invited in. It’s not uncommon to see people praying in the corner of restaurants during this time and many I visited last year provided free fruit to break the fast with. The one thing I love is the increase in charitable giving and activities. For example last year there was a ‘rice drop’ where you could take a bag of rice to a container that was going to be sent as international aid.
Any advice for colleagues who are not fasting?
We’re not hypersensitive to you eating, so don’t worry! We might not have as much energy as usual, for myself this is usually due to lack of caffeine, so if any socials are organised, don’t be offended if we politely decline.
How do you celebrate once Ramadan ends?
I spend the day at my grandad’s house, where the whole family come around to have some food and spend time together.