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Ramadan – The Month of Spirituality, Blessings & Mercy

Hi Guys! I have finally got round to starting my blog. Since it is the Holy month of Ramadan, I thought why not start my first Blogpost dedicated to this month. 

 

How are we half way through Ramadan already? In Scotland Muslims are fasting roughly 19 to 20 hours each day, and although the days may be long they are passing so quickly, it feels like just yesterday we were on Day 1 of Ramadan! Fasting from sunrise to sunset is still a foreign concept to many, but this practice dates back to 1400 years ago, gifted to Muslims when the Prophet (pbuh) traveled across the seven heavens to meet his Creator. Did you know, the gift of five daily prayers was originally assigned as 50? (imagine that) but were reduced down to five that we read today.

 

 

Spiritually, we cannot deny the blessings and close connection we feel with God and the contentment that brings. It is a month where Muslims wholeheartedly give charity, invite friends and family to Iftar – opening of the fast, and spend quality time with their loved ones. Even us siblings develop an exceptionally high level of tolerance with each other (apart from the constant annoying and joking about – that increases during Ramadan for some reason *ahem younger brother*)

 

 

My earliest memory, is looking forward to the chocolate Yazoo my Grandad would personally deliver to me for fasting. Since I was a little I remember fasting religiously, in fact even as a toddler I would wake up at Suhoor with my parents and demand to be fed.

 

 

Understanding the purpose of Ramadan in it’s true sense is not just abstaining from food and drink. It is the fasting of the eyes, heart, and mind. Refraining from gossiping, fighting, and affairs that do not benefit our growth, are all part of the discipline cultivated throughout this month.  Abstaining from food – cue the ‘not even water?’ really allows for clarity of the mind and a higher level of productivity in our daily routine, but also gives the energy to incorporate the extra steps we take to reap the rewards of this month. I view this month as an annual refresher course, where we develop and strengthen new habits, and reinstate and refocus our perspective to what really matters in our lives.

 

 

With the consistent warm weather in Scotland (I am just as surprised as you are), fasting is sometimes a little more challenging. However, our struggle is nothing in comparison to Muslims in Syria and Palestine who despite their circumstances, come together as a collective to celebrate their faith and people. Razan al Najjr, a 21 year old nurse was targeted and shot at the Gaza border attending the injured and wounded. May all those living in adversity be granted ease and reward, Ameen.  Reflecting upon this, we remember to be grateful for all the blessings we have in our lives and our duty to help those in need in whichever form we can.

 

 

Fasting is an important part of Islam that is compulsory for all Muslims, however there are exemptions. Many women, particularly girls still feel obliged to wake up for Suhoor when they aren’t fasting and are expected to refrain from eating, out of fear of being seen. Who remembers locking themselves in a room to eat so men in the family won’t know you’re on your period? Periods already being a taboo subject in the South – Asian community, a simple ‘I am not fasting today’ should not be a shock to the system.

 

 

Having respect for those who are fasting is equally important, but why is resorting to lying is acceptable? Girls are constantly period-shamed during Ramadan and excluded from events and spiritual gatherings, due to a lacking in Islamic knowledge. Menstruating is a natural and biological process which should be an open conversation within families, and girls should not be made to feel guilty about it. To end the stigmatisation associated with menstruating, EDUCATE the men to be mature enough to not point fingers or ask women why they aren’t fasting.

 

 

Fasting brings not just spiritual but physical benefits with it, like reducing the risk of cancer, regeneration of cells and kick starting the immune system. Many in the fitness industry now advocate intermittent fasting, to cleanse their system and improve weight loss results – Sorry we beat you to it! It is quite incredible the process the body goes through whilst fasting, I highly recommend to check it out for yourself.

 

 

I hear from my non-muslim friends repeatedly that they could never observe fasting, but that’s 1.8 billion Muslims around the world doing that – to put it in perspective (with exceptions). Although, some of us are guilty of putting on weight. How you might ask? Indulging in all the exquisite food ! spread over many cultures, and of course how could I forget the fried samosa and pakora family.

 

Are you hungry yet?

 

Much Love,

Issmat

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Trust Me…It Will Benefit You

And…ACTION!  

 

In my few years of experience, I have realised one of many things – firstly that my passion won’t come to me if I just think hard enough (and believe me, I tried!) And two, discovering my potential will only surface from experimenting, and volunteering became the gateway for this to materialize. 

 

Graduating from University was great – my thoughts, thank god this chapter is over just kidding, I loved Psychology! However, I was confused about the direction to move in, in fact I didn’t consider volunteering a method to explore what I liked, it was more of a tick-box souvenir for my cv. With the right support, peered through a new lens and began seeking out opportunities aligning with my area of interest and the skills I wanted to develop.  

 

From volunteering as a radio presenter, being a caseworker, to delivering cakes. Each experience has carved ambition, inspiration, and spurred me in the right direction 

 

So people I want your attention.  

Here are a few benefits of volunteering through my eyes:  

 

  • Enhances Career Prospects  Looking good on your cv is one thing, equating to valued experience for a job is another. Volunteering gives you an environment to practice and hone skills needed in the workplace, and provides the flexibility to experiment with new avenuesVolunteering as a caseworker gave me the freedom to develop the skills and experience I needed to move into a different sector, whereas my job had me firmly cemented and confined to the details. I benefited the most from ‘on the job training’. Training provides the confidence to perform at your level best and creates awareness of other opportunities that may be unknown otherwise. (First Aid here we come) And of course it looks good on your cv! 

 

  • Sense of PurposeYes! volunteering helps you focus on fulfillment of the soul. I began volunteering to gain some experience whilst job hunting but didn’t quite know what to expect. The supportive environment Amina MWRC provided me, enabled me to step into the world of blogging and embolden the speaker out of me. We all possess an innate desire to give to others and in that process if we can discover our passion, there is no greater accomplishment. Making a difference to people’s lives and spreading positivity, benefits the community, and may inform you of vital issues that need attention. Often overlooked, volunteering gives you an insight into what you don’t like and areas of improvement, aiding in making informed decisions for the future.  

 

  • Engage and Connect – Socialising and having a good circle of friends, is for many people at the top of the list. Engaging in a joint activity not only exposes you to new people who share your interestsit also creates the perfect surroundings for new friendships to blossomIn our busy lives, we may not cross paths with many new people, making us feel isolated in the circles we engage with. Coming together for a shared causereduces the pressure to make new friends and allows people to ease into relationships.   

 

  • Improves Mental Health & Confidence  The more good you do for others, the better you feel. Scientifically speaking the health benefits of volunteering contribute to improved mental and emotional well-being. With increased conversation around mental health it is vital to establish self-care and powerful support systems. Feeling part of something larger and committing to positively impacting society, enables happiness and increased motivation. In turn drawing out some closet creatives, and awarding the world with their genius! 

 

Ok so some lessons to consider, take the opportunity. There were certain aspects that made me anxious, but in-house training encouraged me to perform well in various roles, providing the foundation to delve into unknown areas. Learning from mistakes along the way I managed, and I don’t think I could have developed in a more relaxed environment.  

 

I’ve created a bit of a volunteering bucket list and thought it would be interesting to “put it out there,” so you could all hold me accountable. Pressure much? I would like to volunteer abroad to teach English, experience another city, another culture Shout out to my Canadian friend/colleague who tells us amazing stories! I want to embrace more opportunities in the third sector, to exercise public speaking and shake my fear of slipping up. I solemnly swear that I will volunteer for people and places that inspire me and bring me a step closer to my future prospects. #Harrypotterreference 

 

I would like to take this opportunity to say less thinking more action! In 2019 may we march out of our comfort zones and seize the opportunity completely. 

 

Are you convinced yet?

Signed

Issmat