This year over 2.7 million British Muslims will fast during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
The blessed month is regarded as a time of self-reflection, worship and spiritual purification. In many ways, Ramadan is a period of re-invention of the self for the years ahead.
There is no clear consensus on the meaning of the word ‘Ramadan’, but it has etymological links to the Arabic word ‘ramada’, meaning ‘to be heated up by the sun’. This translation can be interpreted metaphorically, to suggest that Ramadan is a time to burn away an individual’s previous sins. Ramadan this year falls in the month of July, so British Muslims will face fasts of upto 18 hours.
Abstaining from food and drink is only a small part of this spiritual period. Ramadan is considered by most to be a period whereby Muslims will abstain from their material pleasures and turn their focus towards deeper spiritual needs. Abstinence from material desires allows Muslims to attain an elevated form of self-realization.
British Muslims will continue to embody the values of Islam during the month, through initiatives such as ‘Iftar (breaking fast) with the Homeless’. These projects were initiated by Miqdad Asaria of the Shi’a Ithnashari Community of Middlesex over a decade ago and continue to flourish today.
This year, Chair of the Muslim Student Council (MSC), Zamzam Ziaie, has outlined his aims to “co-ordinate the first united Health Awareness Campaign in the Muslim community across mosques and community centres this Ramadan.” The MSC will bring together a “vibrant and enthusiastic network of students and professionals” to work with Diabetes UK and NHS Public Health England, to this end.
Our readers have shared what this blessed month means to them:
“Ramadan is a repeated opportunity for all Muslims worldwide to untie the knots of the ‘routine life’ and dive into a spiritual environment. Ideally every day of every month should be Ramadan in the eyes of a believer, to develop admirable qualities such as patience, humility, self-control and submission to God.” Tamara Jawad, Optometrist.
“I feel that there are also many other benefits for us that we may reap by observing the month of Ramadan,” says Hasan Ashami, Student.
“The constant reminder of hunger or thirst reminds one of the essences of their journey, and prevents wrongdoing. This recalculation of one’s actions over a month ideally leads to a rejuvenated sense of piety, an appreciation of all the blessings they had during the year, and a fresh new outlook for the upcoming year.” Saleh Abdul, Student
“Different countries and cultures approach the month in a unique way, and for us Ramadan is also about spending time with one’s family. It is tied to a lifetime of memories with different family members.” Mahnoor Farishta, Economics & Politics Graduate