Settling into Ramadan 2023 – London

On the 2nd of Ramadan I was at work. I work part-time at a university.

I try to be quite animated in my teaching style. I will wave my arms around, prefer to stay on my feet, and walk around, as well as vary the tone of my voice.

Of course, I don’t talk all the time, and make sure the students speak more.

I was teaching from 9 am to 3.30 pm and was hoping that everything would be fine.

After midday and half-way through my second class, I started feeling something in my head. Yes, I was beginning to develop a headache.

At the start of Ramadan, many will start feeling withdrawal symptoms of various kinds. I knew what my headache was probably down to; lack of tea!

In these instances, we have nothing else to do but to carry on.

The headache stayed and got worse, but I continued as normal, waving around my arms, and speaking at the top of my voice, and being my enthusiastic self.

In reality though, I probably have it easy. There are people working in more difficult circumstances, and with longer working hours. I can think of construction workers being busy in physical work. I can’t imagine how they must get through the day (but they do!), doctors and nurses working 12 hour shifts, sometimes having to open their fast, or even start it in between the small breaks they have.

And then I remind myself of people who are in suffering as a result of poverty, or even being in war zones. The list could go on.

What unites people, is the sense of purpose Ramadan brings. To worship Allah (the creator of everything), and to place a greater emphasise on spirituality.

I had no headache the following day. I was beginning to settle into Ramadan.

1st of Ramadan 2023 – London

It’s Wednesday evening, and I have arrived at a small mosque in Norbury, London for the evening prayer.

This is no ordinary evening. The following day Muslims around the world will be fasting. It is the month of Ramadan, the fasting month.

The mosque has a new beautiful prayer mat laid out on the floor, which gives a feeling of cosiness and comfort.

There are more people than usual attending the mosque, and as more arrive, the Imam suggests we all get closer together in our rows so that others can fit in as the mosque becomes packed. It gets a bit tight, as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, but we accept it, as we need to be accomodating of others, who enthusiastically have arrived, giving up their normal daily routines.

The Imam recites the Qur’an from memory in a melodious voice. The rest of us who stand behind him, listen with solemnity. It is a wonderful feeling, knowing that we will hear these recitations throughout this beautiful month, bestowed upon us by the creator of everything.

After two hours, I am back home, go to bed, mentally preparing myself to get up before sunrise to eat something before the fast begins.

The following morning I get up at around 3.40 am. We have until 4.24 am to eat before it is time for the early morning prayer start time.

I have some yoghurt, a banana, pear, a couple of straberries and dates. I also have a boiled egg, as well as drink some water and tea. I need my cup of tea.

As the fasting time begins, I pray that this first day goes by smoothly. With our habit of eating, giving up food for a whole day may seem daunting,. In reality there is nothing to fear. Indeed the human body is resilent.

Fasting is not about starving yourself. It is about getting closer to Allah. It is about sacrifice and prayer. To reflect, and be more focussed on spirituality. Now how many of us get a chance to do that!

Over a billion Muslims are doing this at the same time.

The day goes by and before you know it, the fast has ended.

It has been a fulfilling day. Perhaps, the feeling of, “I got through it.” There was nothing to worry about.

During the day I prayed, read the Qur’an and was focussed.

During the day I wonder about my friends and colleagues who are not Muslim, but distant observers. I wish they could feel what I am feeling.

I love this month. It makes me more god-concious and so happy!.

Thank you Allah.