The holy month of fasting, prayer, and community is set to begin in just under a week.
Ramadan is celebrated in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon.
Ramadan begins 10–12 days earlier each year and is expected to fall on Saturday, 2 April and is expected to end on 1 May, although the dates are dependent on the moon.
For devotees, Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal prayer in the mosque, and reading of the Qur’an. The holy scriptures say God forgives the past sins of those who observe the holy month with fasting, prayer, and faithful intention.
In the leadup to Ramadan, we asked our readers how they prepare for the holy month and what it means to them.
This is what they had to say.
Smaera Kounser, from Keighley, said: “I make homemade samosas, we never use shop-bought stuff, we always use fresh ingredients and freshly prepared on the day, every day.
“I make sure my deeds and my intentions are good, and not just for Ramadan. One thing I do is ask for forgiveness from my friends and family just in case I have hurt them unintentionally.”
Nilo Nawas, a computer scientist from Allerton, said: “Most people tend to be a ‘good Muslim’ during Ramadan, but with myself, I stick to what I normally do. If I can pray, I pray, if I can read the Qur’an, I will read the Qur’an. However, I will fast throughout the whole month.
“This year, the fast opens earlier. It normally opens at about 10pm. As I work from home, there is a lot of flexibility in my job. For me, the routine stays the same. Before the fast and after the fast, men go to the mosque to pray, but women can do it from home.
“Working from home during Ramadan in the pandemic last year was easier in some ways and more difficult in others. For example, when you are at home, you might feel hungry compared to when you’re at a workplace. In terms, of life balance, it was easier because it is less time-consuming.
“In previous Ramadan’s, you spend time driving or walking to the mosque, coming home and then going again in the evening and getting dessert afterwards, a lot of the time. So, last year was easier, but going to mosque is more important.”
Raju Bhatti, from Bradford, reverted to Islam just over two years ago, following his sister in the Islamic faith. She is preparing for Ramadan by purchasing Ramadan journals to reflect on the months. She said: “I have bought my family Ramadan journals this year as it is different for us as our Keeks, is not here with us.
“We intend of making the most out of the month in worship and remembrance of our creator and aim to embrace permanent lifestyle changes going forward. Ramadan is about bringing us together as a family and making the most out of the blessed month.”
Abeel Hussain, owner of Northern Spice, from Keighley said: “Ramadan is a very holy month for us, and we devote ourselves to our religion.
“Therefore, we will be praying even during work hours, rotating staff and shifts to accommodate this. As we have a set time for when we can open our fast, we will be taking pre-orders from our customers and will ensure their orders are a priority.
“Fasting allows us to be strong mentally and spiritually. We experience a high energy level, more mental focus and clarity, and greater spiritual awareness.”
Samira Robinson from Bradford said: “For me, Ramadan is a very tranquil time, I get a lot of inner peace. It is a time to help others by way of giving out food and lots of donations to charities to help the unfortunate ones around it. It brings me happiness to see our mosques buzzing with people attending prayers, I like the feeling of my family being together whenever we can, as sometimes it is not possible because of work commitments.
“I love the preparation for Eid, the decorations, food, and extended family, and giving the house a big clean.
Zaf Shah, pre-plans his meals for the month of Ramadan. In the morning, he opens his fast with chopped dates, a bowl of porridge, two boiled eggs with vitamin C and Zinc mixed with water. For iftar, he has either chicken or fish with vegetables and green tea. He said: “I don’t eat more than I would normally in a day, or it takes away the purpose of fasting.
“I start to eat less at least two weeks before and spiritually there is much more of a focus on praying, particularly at night. In the leadup to Ramadan, I think about being a better human and try to think more on the importance of community.”