April 23, 2020

Welcoming Ramadan

By Ali Hashmi, Senior Auditor

This week marks the start of Ramadan which is the holiest month of the year for Muslims like me. I wanted to share a little bit about Ramadan to help my colleagues understand why it’s so important.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslim’s fast from dawn to sunset, meaning we don’t eat food or drink any water. We also pray at regular intervals with a big focus on our connection to Allah (God). It’s a time to feel gratitude for what we have, and compassion for those less fortunate. Many people living in poverty around the world fast without choice and this helps us empathise and connect with those people on a deeper level.

A typical day for my family during Ramadan involves us waking up early and eating our first meal of the day just before sunrise (called Suhoor), we then fast and pray on average five times throughout the day. During the summer months, fasts can last a long time so it’s important that we conserve energy but also keep ourselves busy with work, prayer and helping others as much as we can. Directly after sunset we’ll eat our second, and final, meal of the day (known as Iftar). This is traditionally more of an elaborate affair- the whole family gets involved in making food and we all sit around the table patiently waiting for the call to prayer, which signals the breaking of the fast.

Although fasting isn’t without its challenges, Ramadan is actually a time I really look forward to. It helps focus me not only spiritually, but also connect with others in my community – it’s common for me and my family to prepare extra meals for the evening which are then shared around the neighbourhood regardless of faith. That’s something I’ll really miss this year and I’m sure that our neighbours will too!

With all Mosques closed for congregational prayers and no large Iftar meals with extended friends and family, Ramadan will certainly feel different this year. But I’m thankful for technology that allows us to still meet virtually and pray together. The Muslim Council of Britain is offering some good guidance and ideas on how to spend Ramadan in lockdown, and Co-op have created some useful factsheets providing advice for leaders and colleagues.

At the end of Ramadan (23 May) we’ll be celebrating Eid al-Fitr or “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. A special prayer and sermon are held the morning of Eid day and we usually follow this with a community celebration full of food, games and presents for children. We’ll have to be creative with how we celebrate this year!

I’ve often been asked by colleagues if fasting for a day is as hard as it sounds. Now’s your chance to give it a go and raise money for a great cause, the National Emergencies Trust (NET) in the process. Co-op are running a sponsored fast for colleagues on 29 April which Steve Murrells and Helen Webb are both taking part in. If you’d like to join in, you can either:

  • fast from sunrise to sunset with no food and no water
  • fast from sunrise to sunset with water only
  • fast 6am – 6pm

Then simply post this message on your social media saying:

This Ramadan I’m doing a sponsored fast in support of (NET) National Emergencies Trust, to help individuals impacted by Covid-19 that need it most. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here.

Virgin money charge no fees so 100% of the donation will go to the NET.

*NET is a collaboration of charities and organisations responding to emergencies in the UK and they’re supporting those directly impacted by Covid-19. They’re working with community foundations and local charities to ensure support gets to the individuals that need it most.