Written by Esraa
MSc Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting in the Islamic calendar, and Muslims globally look forward to it every year to take part. This year’s Ramadan is slightly different for many people around the world as the lock down has prevented the prayers in mosques and even the family/friends gatherings due to the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s a little window into my Ramadan.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is by definition a time of sacrifice, where Muslims fast during the daylight from sunrise and sunset all month, with no food or drink. Ramadan comes with big joy to Muslims even though it can be tough but it is a celebration of giving, feeling as a community and indulging in all practices to purify the soul. We eat at the early hours before sunrise (sehour) and then look forward to another meal to break our fasts at sunset (fetour).
The true meaning
The physical act of fasting can be very healthy and detoxifying to the whole body, but it also refocuses the attention to think about the less fortunate and be grateful for all the blessings we live in. Ramadan is also a time for spiritual reflection, Muslims tend to read more of the Quran (holy book), pray together, refraining from using less – pleasing language and bad deeds. Charity is a major part of Ramadan where normally people make a special effort to reach out for the needy, cooking, giving out free meals, clothes, anything to help. There are a lot of online charities to donate to at these quarantining times.
I have always been a fan of setting up the house for pretty occasions, as special as Ramadan is I love filling our place with candles and lanterns always ready for tea after the big meal. In many Muslim countries, streets are filled with decorations, restaurants make special offers and stay up late for the fasting individuals to be able to start or break their fast on an open community basis. Greeting people for a blessed month and spending time with family/friends is a major aspect of Ramadan, big gatherings and feasts are held to enjoy the cultural festivities.
I personally really miss going for picnics, bbqs and sunset watching on the beach with my friends and family. After having a good meal, we would make a fire pit, have deserts and snacks under the stars with lots of laughs and memorable chats. My mum would occasionally drive me to watch the sunrise near the pier as well which was always so refreshing and a great start for the day seeing beauty in the smallest things and feeling so grateful to be living in such a gorgeous place.
During lock down, as everyone is doing, it is advised to stay communicated virtually sharing food recipes, having an online meal at sunset, calling each other to lift the spirits up and connecting together regardless. Happiness comes from caring and sharing each others blessings to give and network as a community.
Traditionally Ramadan has its bad eating habits with lots of fried food and stuffing ourselves to the maximum but there has been a significant trend change in the past few years. People have started to practice the creation of healthy habits starting more balanced diets finding the more nutritional recipes to avoid feeling bloated. It can be quite difficult to get used to the reflected changes in routines as people tend to sleep between the two meals or some of them like I do stay up till after sunrise to sleep but if we weren’t in quarantine then timings would be varied and the lack of asleep is a real self discipline technique to reach the normal working hours at Ramadan.
I like to call it a three day Christmas, so when we have been fasting for a whole month there is a well deserved feast at the end of Ramadan called Eid-ul fitr. Everyone wishing each other great times, dressing up in pretty outfits, cooking big meals, giving presents to each other, seeing family and friends and gathering all the joy.
To everyone fasting – I hope you all have a beautiful blessed Ramadan making the fast easy for all of us! Please stay safe and take care!