Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Keep calm, it's Ramadan

As Muslims all over the world observe the month-long tradition of prayer, reflection and fasting, Indian Link shares stories of families and what the festival means to them.

Reading Time: 5 minutes
This issue we ask the question: what does Ramadan fasting mean to you, and how do you manage it with your work/study routine?
I love Ramadan as it brings the family together for a meal. Everyone is so busy with their daily lives, but we make sure to break our fast together. Fasting isn’t too bad as iftar is just before 5.00pm, better than Germany where the sun sets after 9.00pm! I’m grateful for the short days as this year Ramadan has fallen near the busy exam period at university. It’s funny when I’m fasting and my friends don’t want to eat in front of me, as the whole point of Ramadan is to experience the hunger that less fortunate people face. It definitely makes me appreciate how fortunate we are to always have food and water on the table.
Beheshta Wasseh, Sydney
I work full-time in a pretty hectic and reactive environment and get pulled in all different directions throughout the day. My workplace is quite flexible and open to different cultural and religious commitments. Outside of Ramadan I usually start around 8.30am and finish by 6.00pm. However during Ramadan I organise with my team to start around 6:30 – 7.00am. I wake up for sehri (suhur for some) and instead of going back to sleep I head to work. I finish work around 3.30pm which thankfully gives me enough time to make it home for iftar with the family. My team makes sure our meetings are scheduled around my Ramadan times and I also get the opportunity to work from home some days. As a thank you, I bring them a ginormous platter of biryani after Eid!
Nayna Pinata, Sydney

During Ramadan I get to work a bit earlier so I can get home in time for iftar and prayer. I take the travel time to and from work to make my daily dua and reflect on all the things I’m grateful for. I also make time to socialise!
Faiaz Faruque, Sydney
Luckily this year in Australia fasting is quite short – 11.5 hours, most of which is spent at work where I don’t feel it unless someone’s eating something particularly fragrant! Fasting in Ramadan has such a focus on detoxing and learning more about the Islam that it is easy to work, play, pray and even organise charity iftars and dinners to raise funds for those in need. Our charity in Canberra called Sitara’s Story is raising funds for mental health awareness among Bangladesh youth to address suicide rates. Collective humanity is what gives me purpose and drives balance in Ramadan.
Shafeen Mustaq, Canberra
During Ramadan, we wake up for sehri before dawn, then pray and then head straight to work. I have very supportive employers. They give me flexibility to leave early so that I can be home it time for iftar, and allowing time for prayers is great. As an employee, I feel much more motivated and content with the job. Once I’m back home for iftar, it’s time to be with family. I love the bhajiyas, kebabs, tandoori, and the list goes on! I also love the food at Lakemba streets.
Personally, Ramadan is an opportunity to stop, pause, think and reflect on my actions, my deeds especially in this fast-paced, materialistic life we live – running around jobs, money, stressing about little things in life which we don’t have control on. Ramadan is not just about not eating or not drinking. It’s about your whole being, how you live, behave and act. I try my best for all of these, do a spot of charity, fast, pray, try to abstain from all my bad habits.
Nadeem Ahmed, Sydney

As a child, I was taught that Ramadan is the month of Allah – a spiritual month of forgiveness, charity and prayers. Whatever you desire in life, if you ask for during this month, Allah will make it happen. Fast forward to today, and I still uphold these values. It is also a month of togetherness; we come together to pray, break bread, and share our Ramadan experiences.
Tasneem, Sydney
I love how Ramadan is a spiritual, mental and physical detox where I work on my soul, thoughts and body! I love how Ramadan makes me reflect on myself and my surroundings. In this world of comparison, consumerism and social media I lose touch with what’s important in life. Ramadan forces me to realign myself with what’s important in life and reflect on my connection with God, family, friends, my community and others in this world. It’s not always easy, but I come out of this month ready to take on another year of improving myself spiritually, mentally and physically.
Zainab Farouk, Canberra
Health reasons have prevented me from fasting in recent years. However, during Ramadan, I ensure that I remain extra mindful about what roza means, and I try particularly hard to live the values of Ramadan. For example, I ensure that my meals are much smaller portions, and that I don’t continually snack during the day. I try my best to ensure that clean eating is pivotal to my daily routine, so I ensure my food is ethically sourced. At the end of the day, I don’t binge eat – as the purpose of Ramadan is to demonstrate moderation. I try to temper my thoughts and behaviour to ensure that I am charitable in my thoughts and deeds. Sometimes I fail, but the important thing is to keep trying. And during the day, I focus on how blessed my life really is – and I make a point of buying a colleague lunch, or I bring in fruit for the cleaners at work.
Salma Shah, Sydney
I believe in observing all the rituals as per our tradition. I wake up very early and try to get my children to do the same. I then complete the wuzu, sahoor and recite my tahajjud prayer. I try not to sleep as that defeats the purpose – you are meant to experience the hunger, and sleeping makes it easier. I pray most of the day as this is the time to connect to Allah Miya with full devotion. I do all the five namaaz and try to avoid spending time on recreational things like socialising or watching TV as this is time to pray. I break my fast at sunset with dates, fruit chaat and sherbat. My family looks forward to the pakoras (fritters) that are cooked at our place during Ramadan.
It has been scientifically proven that detoxing the human body for a month is beneficial to health and we Muslims have been doing this for hundreds of years. My children have all been raised to observe Ramadan fasting and they all continue to do so as adults. This is a very special time for my family and me.
Shehnaz Akhtar, Melbourne
READ ALSO: Understanding Ramadan

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Shafeen Mustaq
Shafeen is a Sydney based writer

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