As Ramadan begins tomorrow, people across Bradford and around the world, are beginning to prepare for a month of fasting, giving to charity, and reflection.
For the first time in two years, worshipers will be able to come together as a community in Mosques, following two years of at-home devotion due to the pandemic.
For those who are able, the next four weeks will see Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset, eating at Iftar and Suhoor, where this year the earliest suhoor will be at around 4am and the latest Iftar will be at around 9pm, this means fasts will last for around 17 hours.
Councillor Richard Dunbar who represents Thornton and Allerton (Lab) will be participating in fasting during Ramadan for the third time.
Cllr Dunbar fasted for the first time during Ramadan in 2020, when he was asked by one of his friends to participate.
At the beginning of the fast, he found it quite difficult, going without food or water for eighteen hours, but after getting stuck in with work and check-ups from his mum, the time passed pretty quickly.
He chooses to fast to “show solidarity” with Muslim friends, family, and constituents, and to reflect on those who are less fortunate in the world.
Cllr Dunbar said: “I will be fasting for at least one day during Ramadan this year. Primarily, it is about showing solidarity to Muslim friends, family, and constituents.
“I think it is important to show solidarity, and from a personal perspective, it gives you an understanding of people with different religions and beliefs yourself, which is always valuable.”
He added “Fasting also teaches you a lot about discipline, control, and reflection. It is crucial that we take time to that there is poverty in the UK and around the world and what we can do better as a community, to ensure that those who are worse off, are provided for.
“We are in a time where the poorest, the more vulnerable, and the most marginalised are going without food.”
Cllr Dunbar will choose to break his fast the “traditional way”, he says, with some dates followed by a “good Bradford curry”. He said the best dates he found in Bradford are from Palestine and plans on tucking into them when he begins his iftar meal.
Are non-Muslims allowed to fast during Ramadan? “Yes, absolutely!” says an imam from Keighley.
Psychotherapist and Imam at Airedale NHS Trust Foundation, Aziz Ur-Rehman, said: “I think it is a very noble thing for non-Muslims to participate in fasting, whether it is one day or for the whole of Ramadan.
“There is no harm in it, fasting is a great way of looking after your body as well. It is a way for other people to experience different cultures, in some respects. Anyone can fast, it is not as if it is against the law.”
Imam Ur-Rehman added, “It is about intentions. For Muslims, all actions are about intentions. So why do you fast? Do you hast because you want to gain the reward during the month of Ramadan? Then you will be rewarded in that way. Do you fast to show empathy towards your college or neighbour? Then you will be rewarded in that way.
“There is no harm in non-Muslims fasting just for one day. They would fast from dawn to sunset, if somebody wants to try it and find it difficult, then, by all means, they can break it, if they are not part of the faith. If Muslims break it intentionally, then they have to repeat it at a later date.”
There are many health benefits to fasting. Iman Ur-Rahman says it is like an “MOT for the body”, a way of getting rid of all the built-up toxins.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, and the first few days can be difficult, but after two or three days you notice the body changes and become accustomed to fasting,” he said. “After three weeks, your body is rid of the toxins from within.”
Asian Standard wishes all our readers Ramadan Mubarak.