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?