By Ayyaz Malik
I am 28 years old and have been keeping fasts for at least sixteen years. I am a Muslim and I do this as a way of seeking sacred nearness to Allah.
Ramadan is the best month of the year for me, quite simply because I really do find myself spiritually awoken after a year’s slumber.
My daily Ramadan routine is quite basic. I wake up in the morning at the time of dawn to have some food. As a Muslim who observes fasting, I am not allowed to eat during the day (when there’s sunlight) so it’s important I have enough food to last me for the whole day. After I have woken up to eat food at dawn time, which is known as Sehri or Suhoor, I then pray the morning prayer (Fajr) before going back to sleep.
Then, just like any other day, I go to work and attend to my normal work tasks and activities. I offer my prayers during work hours (the prayers which fall into that time frame). During this month of Ramadan, I come across the normal questions: “Why do you fast?” and “Isn’t that hard to do?”
After work, I spend some time with my lovely mum. Then I go to my local mosque, which is only a few minutes away from me, to assist in preparing the food for fellow mosque attendees, all ready for fast opening (iftari) time.
As Ramadan is a chance of seeking a means of being closer to Allah, the other mosque attendees and I prepare the mosque for Ramadan evening prayers, called Taraweeh. The Taraweeh prayers are highly recommended but one isn’t compelled to perform them – rather they are performed for the satisfaction of oneself.
Although the British society is accommodating to my beliefs and religious ethos, it’s sometimes difficult to perform Ramadan to the full extent, in terms of getting the best out of it spiritually. I feel that this is simply due to the fast paced nature of my life but that could be said of Western life in general. Although we aim to read the Qur’an in our normal day-to-day lives, but can sometimes fail to do so due to our busy lifestyles, this is a month where Muslims especially reflect on the Qur’an as we believe that it was first revealed during this period.
On the weekend, I do make time to read the Qur’an, which is an ideal chance for me to reflect on its magnificence. My Ramadan is topped off by Laylat al-Qadr, which translates to ‘The Night Of Power’. This extraordinary night is within the last ten nights of Ramadan and is a virtuous time, where Muslims spend as much time as possible on worship, due to it being equivalent to a thousand months of worship.
Muslims all around the world will be able to tell you similar stories to mine but the Ramadan experience itself is something you just cannot put into words. As they say, “actions speak louder than words” – it will only be when you physically partake in Ramadan that you will witness the power and mysticism of this month. I wish you a very happy Ramadan.