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Not Even Water, What Ramadan And Eid Mean To Me

We recently saw the end of the month of Ramadan (sometimes spelled Ramadhan), which is considered by Muslims to be one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar. You’ve probably heard that Ramadan is the month that adult Muslims that are fit and able to do so fast from sunrise to sunset. I’ve seen the following list below circulating on social media and around the company. It looked like really useful information so I thought I’d reshare it:

1. Ramadan happens once a year and lasts around 30 days

2. We follow the lunar calendar which is why it starts earlier each year (it shifts by around 11 days each time)

3. It's a month for spiritual discipline and it helps us feel grateful for what we have

4. We fast from sunrise to sunset and yup: not even water! (It’s around 16 hours of fasting this year in the UK)

5. It's not just about abstaining from food/drink but also about charity and practicing patience and kindness

6. It means a lot to us when you wish us a ‘Happy Ramadan’

7. We don't mind being around people eating/drinking so don't feel the need to apologise

8. Our sleeping hours/caffeine intake changes so we might seem tired. We don't expect to get special treatment while fasting but it would be kinder to check our preference for meeting hours

9. Ramadan is tough during lockdown, it can feel lonely and isolating as we can't see family/friends and the days feel longer. Do check on your Muslim friends/colleagues during this month

10. No question is a bad question, we love talking about Ramadan and are happy to answer any questions people have

Beyond just fasting

For many Muslims, including me, Ramadan is about so much more than just abstaining from eating.

As it’s the holiest month of the year, Ramadan often feels like a spirituality detox and many Muslims use Ramadan as a springboard to try out being the best version of themselves. This is why new habits are often formed, sometimes in the hope that they will carry through the rest of the year. These habits could be something that is noticeable at work such as praying more regularly or adjusting to a more modest way of dress, or more subtle; giving to charity, trying to keep an even temper, swearing less and smiling more often. This year, I was trying to pray a bit more Qur’an (Islamic holy book) both in Arabic and by studying the translation. I was also trying to stay sweet tempered - even when hangry.

I really look forward to Ramadan coming round, I look forward to the boost in my spirituality which comes in many forms. For me, Ramadan is about working on my stamina as Ramadan shows me what my body can do (fast for a month somehow without the bathroom scales finding out) and trying to work out what the best version of me looks like. And let’s face it, after nil by mouth from sunrise to sunset, it’s still also about the food - it’s about cooking it, eating it, thinking about what I’m going to eat and appreciating who I’m going to eat it with.

What exactly is Eid?

As much as I look forward to Ramadan, it’s not easy and can be tiring so I look forward to the celebration at the end of the month almost as much. Eid-al-Fitr, or just Eid, is the Islamic celebration of the end of Ramadan and the start of the next month in the lunar calendar. Eid-al-Fitr is one of two yearly celebrations called Eid in the Islamic calendar (the other is Eid-al-Adha and celebrates the end of Hajj). Depending on when the new moon was sighted, Eid fell on Thursday 13th May for most people this year, and Friday 14th May for the others.

As with any global celebration, cultural and family traditions help to make everyone’s day unique. The huge breadth of cultures celebrating Eid across the globe means the festival is celebrated differently everywhere. But there are some things that are recognisable across cultures - it is customary to wear your best clothes, and to give sweets and sweet food to friends and family in honour of the celebration.

My Eid involved dressing to the nines, wearing mehndi and making (and eating) sweet treats. I saw family and friends (some for the first time since the lockdown began) and included me falling asleep on the sofa due to excessive biryani consumption.

As with every family’s Christmas celebration, every Eid day is unique and special. But hopefully it will always be full of enjoyment, food and family. So next year please do wish a Happy Eid, or Eid Mubarak to the colleagues you know are celebrating!

Glossary

Ramadan [Ramazan or Ramathaan]

One of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar

Ramadan Mubarak [Ramathaan mu-baar-uk]

Blessed Ramadan or happy Ramadan

Eid Mubarak [Eeed mu-baar-uk]

Blessed Eid or happy Eid

Qur’an [Kur aan]

Islamic holy book

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