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 Ruzwan and I’m a Tax Manager in the Entrepreneurial Business Advisory team in the Birmingham Office.
What does Ramadan mean to you?
Ramadan is a month for me to take stock – in terms of my relationship with God, as well as my goals (spiritual goals, as well as non-spiritual goals), reflecting on what I have achieved in the last year, and areas where I have fallen short. I also look forward to what I want to improve and achieve in the next year, and use this special month as a training ground to make the changes required to achieve them.
How do you structure your day in Ramadan?
My daily routine is very different in Ramadan, as I try to make full use of agile working to start work when I have the most energy in the day.
- The day starts by waking up for the pre-dawn meal, which will be at approximately 3am this year, before then heading out to the mosque for the dawn prayer (the first of the five daily prayers). After returning from the prayers, I typically take out a bit of time to focus on reading some Qur’an (The Holy Book for Muslims), before starting my working day at approximately 4:45am from home.
- I will then head into the office for approx. 6am and will continue my working day until approx. 1:30pm.
- By this time, I have already completed my hours for the day, and will leave to try and make it to the mosque for the second of the five daily prayers (the midday prayer). Here, I will again take some time after the prayer to read some more Qur’an, before collecting my son from nursery.
- I will then head home and try to catch up on some sleep, before waking for the third prayer of the day (the late afternoon prayer).
- The focus then shifts to spending time with my family and preparing to break the fast (start eating again) at approx. 9pm, which also coincides with the fourth of the daily prayers (the sunset prayer).
- After a hearty meal with the family, (trying my best to not heave anything too unhealthy – although it can be very tempting!) I will then prepare to head out to the mosque again for the fifth and final prayer of the day, which during Ramadan is extended and typically lasts from approximately 10:30pm to just after midnight.
- After the prayers, I will head home to try and get a few hours sleep before starting the day all over again.
How do you find fasting from a spiritual and practical perspective?
It would be a lie if I said that it was easy (especially with the day being so long during the summer months), but I can say that I feel amazed each year with just how the body adjusts to fasting. I’m a person who really doesn’t hold back from food and coffee throughout the year, but for this month I really cut back, which becomes relatively straight forward after a few days adjusting at the start.
Balancing fasting with work is a challenge due to reduced energy levels, but at the same time it really helps to keep the day focussed, structured and productive, as fasting is never an excuse to drop productivity – in fact it should be the opposite!
What do you look forward to the most in Ramadan?
Ramadan is a magical month for me because it gives me a glimpse of what I could achieve from a spiritual and productivity perspective outside of Ramadan. So I’m looking forward to reconnecting with certain goals which I have fell short on this year, as well as setting fresh goals for the next year and working to make them a habit during this month.
Any advice for colleagues who are not fasting?
- Don’t worry about eating food around us – we are used to it and in all honesty it doesn’t impact us…yes, the fast includes food and water!
- Be yourselves – but at the same time, be conscious of some of your colleagues having reduced energy levels during this month.
How do you celebrate when you finish fasting for the month?
We celebrate Eid when Ramadan finishes. We typically visit family members throughout the day, and are expected to have full 3 course meals at each house – considering the size of Asian families and thus the number of houses we visit, that’s a lot of 3 course meals! At the same time, it is a day of gratitude – thanking God for the blessing of the month of Ramadan and praying that we can continue to retain that renewed connection with God for the rest of the year.