The blessed month of Ramadan is set to begin in the first week of June this year. Millions of Muslim world wide will observe fasting from dawn to dusk each day. This is an important time for Muslims as the month is regarded as blessed and rewarding. Many have already begun planning and preparing for the occasion.
Sara Begum, 28, from Birmingham, said, “I’m looking forward to Ramadan as it is such a holy and blessed month. It is a physical challenge as the fasting days are long, yet it is also a spiritual challenge as we are encouraged to increase our worship and connection with God.”
For many Muslims once again fasting will result in approximately 18-19 hours without food or water since it falls in early June. It is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar, meaning the past few years have coincided with longer daylight hours for those living in the northern hemisphere.
Fatima Kouser from Manchester, explained, “Although the hours are long for us living in the UK and other countries, it is an extremely blessed time and beneficial in many ways. Fasting is quite healthy for our bodies and helps us to channel our emotions as we try to avoid bad behaviour such as swearing and lying. It also teaches us patience and how to control our greed and ego.”
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and prescribed by God in the Qur’an. Its purpose is “so that you will attain God-consciousness” as quoted in the Qur’an (2:183). Those who are travelling, not fit and able such as the elderly, children, sick, are not required to fast. Ramadan is a time for devotion to God and inner reflection. Muslims try to achieve this through performing extra acts of worship, giving as much charity as possible, reflect on the Qur’an, and try to improve their behavioural conduct.
As Ramadan falls in early June, it will therefore also coincide with student examinations such as GCSEs and A-levels. Muhammad Yusuf, 17, A-level student, explains how he plans to cope. “I’ve been advised not to fast on the days of my exams, as I am able to make them up later. However, as I only have very few exams days which clash with fasting, I’ve decided to wait and see how I feel, as I usually cope quite well with fasting previously. I enjoy the atmosphere during Ramadan as I feel as sense of unity and it is very rewarding for us.”
[Image: Ramadan Kareem. By: 20: 11, 13 September 2007 (UTC)/ Creative Commons]