By Fuzeil Patel, Corporate Development Associate
This year Ramadan will begin on Tuesday 13 April (based on the sighting of the moon). The date moves each year, as it follows the lunar calendar and is based on the sighting of a new crescent moon.
Considered to be one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims, Ramadan is observed by fasting during daylight hours and not eating any food or drinking water. We also perform special prayers, spend time reading the Qur’an and do good deeds and charity work for those less fortunate.
There are three generations in my home, with my wife, our son and also my parents. Ramadan presents an opportunity to bring us closer together as we plan to open and close our fasts at the same time. This’ll also be extended wider as my siblings and their families will join us virtually on video calls, so we’ll have much larger mealtimes. We didn’t do this before lockdown, but I’m glad it’s a new tradition.
At the start, we’ll eat around 4am and at this time of year, the sun sets around 8pm meaning we’ll fast for about 16 hours each day. As the days gradually get longer towards the end this will change to around 2am and sun set will be around 9pm. I plan to break my fast with some dates and Zamzam which is holy water from a well in Mecca.
During Ramadan, daily prayers are extended. I find that praying together gives a spiritual uplift, so I’ll attend the mosque with my father for the Taraweeh. This is an additional prayer where the Imam recites the Holy Qur’an. These are shared each night for 27 nights when the book is finished on the Laylat-ul-Qadr or the Night of Power. The Qur’an describes this night as ‘better than a thousand months’ and in which the very first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It’s considered the holiest night when prayers are accepted, and charitable good deeds are multiplied.
The importance of helping others became apparent throughout the pandemic and charity is incredibly important, especially during Ramadan. I’m really inspired by one phrase from the Prophet Muhammad:
He is not a believer who sleeps satisfied while his neighbour goes hungry
In which the term neighbour includes 40 houses in front, 40 houses behind, 40 houses on your right and 40 houses on your left. Following this principle would ultimately help stamp out poverty and it really struck a chord with me.
Bearing this in mind, along with some friends I’ve recently done my bit for charity by starting a foodbank, The Crescent Foodbank. In the month we’ve been operating, we’ve helped almost 200 people and distributed over 6,000 meals. I was really proud when the store manager in my local Co-op agreed to become a donation point for us. It’s a huge boost, showing that community is key and it really is what we do.
The RISE Network have created a e-mag with more information about Ramadan, along with a calendar of events which includes details on how you can join in with a Co-op fast on 21 April. Events like these help us champion the diverse and inclusive environment that makes me proud to work for Co-op.
As Ramadan commences, I’d suggest all colleagues try to get involved in something which will help others. It doesn’t matter how big or small, but just try to help in some way. As our holy Prophet has said; smiling is a form of charity, and something as simple as that can be so significant especially to someone who may be going through some form of difficulty.