Is it just me or does it feel like Ramadan comes around at just the right time each year?

When you’ve become so rushed off your feet that praying becomes quick five-minute tasks squeezed into your day rather than five moments of remembering God; when you’re too exhausted trying to complete the never-ending chores and errands that, by the time you’ve sat down to open the Qur’an or that Islamic book you’ve been meaning to read for months, the words don’t sink in; when you begin to feel like you’re living to work rather than working to live and you are too occupied to focus on your spiritual needs or get a moment to yourself.

Time is one thing that seems to get shorter every year because as we get older, our responsibilities increase and energy decreases.  Whether you’re a student focusing on your studies, a professional at the peak of your career or a parent with children to look after – each requires hard work, commitment and the majority of your time.

This is what makes the obligatory month of fasting so beautiful and a period that Muslims crave for rather than dread.  I like to see it as a month of “me” time because it takes you back to basics and requires you to perform duties that are beneficial for your mind, body and soul – something that is difficult for many of us to achieve in our day-to-day lives, due to bad diets, lack of physical activity and limited time to carry out religious obligations.  Not only does Ramadan act as a complete and brilliant detox, it recharges your spiritual batteries to keep you going for the rest of the year.

However, Ramadan has come at a more pressing time than ever this year – in a world where cultural and religious sensitivity is at its prime, Islamophobia is a growing problem and the global suffering of Muslims is getting more and more brutal.  This means that many of us spend a lot of effort defending our religion to non-Muslims or are constantly mindful about how we are perceived by them.  This also means that we may feel extra self-conscious whilst fasting this year, not wanting to attract attention, dreading facing those questions from the non-Muslims friends and colleagues we have to answer every year, hoping they won’t think that we’re strange.

But we can easily use the blessed month of Ramadan to change all of the misconceptions held by non-Muslims and the way we tackle them.  What better way to enlighten those who know little about Islam than inviting them to experience it with us?

Even if it’s just for one day, it is one day of taking everything back to basics, without the judgements, the politics or the defensive armour; a day of sharing an endeavour, providing an insight and helping others understand the beauty of Islam in its simplicity.  Just sharing Ramadan for one day has the capability of effectively changing negative views, in a way that is much more powerful and engaging than reading a book, debating or asking questions.

Whether you choose to share Ramadan with a non-Muslim or not, do make a pledge during the thirty days to bring everything back to basics and educate those around you, not only through your actions and good deeds, but through altering your approach on how you challenge these misconceptions.  Let’s use Ramadan to have these discussions, spread awareness of the core foundations of our faith, and create an atmosphere of positivity between us and those who are unaware of what makes us so proud to be Muslim.

Ramadan Mubarak to you all!

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