Mo Abdelazim – Programme Management Office, Projects Officer
So here I am, getting on with life, enjoying my lunch like everyone else and then like a line out of Game of Thrones someone says, “Ramadan is coming.” For those who don’t know, Ramadan is a holy month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset. In that time nothing can pass your lips (that’s right, not even water). Sounds daunting right? But after 20 years of fasting through Ramadan I’ve come to see…it’s genuinely not that bad.
Now don’t get me wrong, the first couple of days are tough. It takes a bit of time for your body and mind to get used to the change, however, that’s one of the most powerful aspects of Ramadan…change. In the minutiae of daily life we put off self-improvement, with the nature of a nine to five routine making it hard to break habits. Ramadan puts us in a position to reset mentally, physically and spiritually; to feel what it’s like for those who are less fortunate, to rethink the way we interact with others and to learn self-restraint and discipline.
Fasting at work
Working while fasting can be tough. Concentration can fade, the hunger is uncomfortable and fatigue can creep up on you but the people around me make a huge difference. I’ve been blessed to have grown up in such a multicultural city where people have the capacity to understand what I’m going through. I’m ever grateful that I also work at an organisation that champions diversity. During Ramadan the flexible working style here is immensely helpful, whether it’s working from home or foregoing my lunch break to leave early when I’m fasting. I can fit work around my prayer times and take regular breaks to preserve my energy for the day.
Most importantly, Ramadan is meant to help us reconnect with God and religion. It’s also about praying together as Muslims, giving to charity and sharing good will with those around you (Muslim and non-Muslim). Emphasis is placed on reading and understanding the Quran and the meanings behind its verses as well as the other scriptures. I’ve seen many Muslims follow rules blindly and not look at the context and meaning of those rules. This can lead to misunderstandings among Muslims and present a negative image to non-Muslims on Islam and how it fits into western society. In the current geopolitical climate, it’s especially important that we promote learning about meanings and context in Islam if we’re to forge a stronger coexistence.
If I’m honest for the first time in a while, I’m genuinely looking forward to Ramadan. I’m going to make sure I make the most of this time of reflection and self-improvement to not only be a better Muslim, but a better person mentally, physically and spiritually.
Ramadan Kareem to all.