“Fasting is prescribed for you — as it was for those before you — so perhaps you will become mindful [of God].” Qur’an

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and a holy month of fasting for Muslims all over the world. It is a time to reset and connect with their spiritual core, and a month of blessings, new beginnings and renewed community spirit.

This year Ramadan will fall on Wednesday 22 March to Friday 21 April. This is of course dependent on the sighting of the new moon, as Muslims follow a lunar calendar.

Ramadan is a blessed time for followers of the Islamic faith because this is when the Qur’an (Muslim holy book) was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

During Ramadan, Muslims who are physically and mentally able to, will not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. If one cannot fast due to health reasons or other vulnerabilities, there are so many other ways to get involved. During the fasting month, Muslims will observe their five times daily prayers, give more charity, undertake extra worship and take a step back from the frenetic world to centre themselves. Every night after breaking fast, there are extra prayers called ‘taraweeh’ that many will try and observe at the mosque or at home.

Ramadan is so much more than deprivation from food and drink. The lack of sustenance strips away the focus on the basic human need for nourishment and allows the spiritual senses to awaken, and for a person to connect with their deeper self.

To an external observer, Ramadan may appear to be difficult. However, to the person fasting, Ramadan brings an abundance of benefits on a surface and deeper level. This is why a survey by Pew Research Centre showed that most Muslims across the world fast in Ramadan. “Fasting is the second-most observed of the Five Pillars, behind only belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad.”

The other side benefits of fasting include feeling heathier during and at the end of Ramadan. The scientifically proven health benefits of fasting in general, has become fashionable in recent years with the introduction of the intermittent fasting trend. Historically however, many faith traditions have observed and continue to observe some type of fasting for similar reasons. Ramadan therefore connects Muslims to other faiths and people, and this year some of the fasting month overlaps with Lent.

In this fast-paced world, there is often little time for reflection and contemplation about one’s purpose. Ramadan is a time to slow down and creates a space for internal transformation. It is also a time to give gratitude, and to help others who are suffering around the world. This year there will undoubtedly be prayers and support for the people of Turkey, Syria, Ukraine and those facing hardship and injustice everywhere.

A beautiful aspect of Ramadan is the connection and unity with Muslims of all backgrounds and races from all across the world. Ramadan also brings discipline to a person’s life. There are set times to pray and eat, and it facilitates the creation of better and healthier habits. The holy month is also an opportunity to spend more time with family and friends in communal breaking of the fast or ‘iftar’, and praying together. This community togetherness is certainly missed when Ramadan is over, and people return to their busy lives.

To mark the end of Ramadan, there is a big celebration called Eid ul-Fitr. Muslims join together to pray special Eid prayers in the morning at the mosque or an outdoor setting, and spend the rest of the time meeting family and friends, and enjoying specially made foods with their loved ones. In Muslims countries, Eid is observed for three days which are a public holiday.

These are some beneficial habits people can implement during Ramadan and beyond:

  • Work on being present in prayer and establish mindfulness in everyday actions
  • Become healthier in mind and body
  • Break fast together with friends and family, and with people who may be alone
  • Reduce food waste; use less and recycle more
  • Give charity
  • Volunteer
  • Stop smoking

In order to create an inclusive workplace that caters for everyone, an understanding of Ramadan is key to supporting your colleagues through the fasting period. This blog aims to give a general insight, but if you want to find out more, here are some helpful resources:

By Nadia Khan

LinkedIn: Nadia Khan