23 March 2023 marked the start of Ramadan, a month-long event in the Muslim calendar, when Muslims aim to grow spiritually and build stronger relationships with Allah (swt). They do this by praying and reciting the Quran, making their actions intentional and selfless and, fasting between sunrise and sunset throughout the month.

We heard from Nilofer Hasham, Manager, Onboard Revenue Compliance & Planning, who told us more about what a typical day in Ramadan might look like for her and her family:

Pre-dawn meal (Suhoor)

In Ramadan, the fasting period lasts from sunset to sunrise, so the timing can change daily by a few minutes depending on this.

We wake up before dawn to have our healthy, pre-dawn meal, to set us up for the day. We drink lots of water too, all the while keeping an eye on the time – as we have a set time for dawn which signals the beginning of the fasting period.

We make an intention for keeping the fast. In Islam, intention is the base of all deeds, the verbal and the actual. Allah (swt) rewards and accepts our deeds depending on the extent of our sincerity in doing it for Him.

At dawn we perform the morning prayer (Fajr) and spend some time reciting the Quraan and other duas. Then it’s time to go back to sleep until the morning begins.

During the day

Our morning starts as usual with the adults going to work and kids off to school. Muslims pray five times a day, and we include this alongside our daily tasks. As the day progresses, we try to squeeze in a nap either in the afternoon or early evening to revitalise the tiring body.

For the whole day we abstain from any food or drink and restrain from any negative thoughts or actions. We go about our day as normal doing all our daily chores, preparing and serving food to younger children and older parents.

Fasting is obligatory for all adult Muslims who have reached puberty, are sane and not sick or travelling. In many families we prepare and serve meals to non-fasting family members.

During the month of Ramadan, we try to give as much to charity as possible. This includes both financial donations, but also donating our time, energy and efforts. Financially, it is obligatory for Muslims to give 2.5% of their total savings in the whole year, to a charity to support those in need.

Sunset meal (Iftaar)

At sunset as the Iftar time comes closer, we start preparing for opening our fast. We try to prepare everyone’s favourite meals and feel blessed for being in a position to do so.

Before opening our fast we spend time to make prayers for ourselves, our families and the whole world.

We offer gratitude for what we have, including the ability to fast and ask Allah (swt) for all our needs. This is a special moment to strengthen our relationship with Allah (swt) and focus on why we have been fasting. There is great reward for the sacrifices of a fasting person and acceptance of their prayers in the last few moments where one’s hunger and thirst, is at its peak.

“As soon as the sunsets, we open our fast beginning with dates and water. Sitting down for iftar encompasses satisfaction, gratitude, and relief. The feeling of quenching our thirst and taking that first bite is delightful beyond explanation.”

Iftaar is a time for families to get together and share the social aspect of the meal. Where families are in their own individual homes, we exchange food delicacies with our relatives and neighbours. Muslims can also open their fasts in congregation in the mosque where they can pray and share the meal with the communities. Most mosques have iftaar meals donated to feed hundreds of individuals daily, as there is great reward in feeding a fasting person.

After we open our fast, we perform our evening prayer and get back to finish our iftaar.

Night prayers

After Sunset the next obligatory prayer is the night prayer, Isha. Many people go to the mosque to perform this prayer in congregation.

There is a social interaction aspect to being the mosque and meeting the community. In Ramadhan, after Isha there is a special prayer called Taraweeh which is a set of special congregational prayers which involve reading portions of the Quran. In Islam, prayer in congregation is considered to have more social and spiritual benefits than praying by oneself and it is a norm to perform most of the prayers in the mosque with everyone especially in Ramadan.

This goes on for 29 to 30 days and Eid is celebrated at the end of Ramadan.

Did you know?

Fasting is a form of worship that is common to many religions.

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you. so that you maylearn self-restraint. Quran 2:183”

Religions and philosophies that practice fasting include: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Fasting can last for just a few hours or even a few weeks.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam alongside Belief in Allah (swt) and his messenger, Prayer, Charity and Pilgrimage.

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