Ramadan has always been part of my life as my family are Muslims. I started observing Ramadan from as young as 8 years old. To most it may seem harsh that an 8-year-old was going without food during daylight hours, but as the Islamic religion follows a Lunar calendar Ramadan did fall in the Winter months then. I remember begging my grandparents to wake me up before sunrise so I could join in with fasting (it was only about 7am), then I’d just get ready and head to school. I grew up in London and went to a school which was very diverse so many of my classmates were also fasting. By the time I came home from school the sun was setting which meant I could eat when I got in.
Growing up in an extended family, I’ve always been used to opening my fast with many people around me. There would never be enough space around the table for everyone to fit and it would be overflowing with food. It sort of reminds me of those Christmas dinner scenes in TV adverts with families – imagine Christmas dinner with your family everyday for 30 days!
Over the years however, Ramadan has become so much more than just time with my family. As a young child I didn’t always understand the additional benefits of Ramadan. Now I see it as a time to reflect, be more charitable and increase my knowledge on Islam. I spend a lot of my evenings now reciting Quran, praying my daily prayers and listening to talks and discussions on YouTube. As a young child my siblings and I went to Islamic school where we were taught how to read Arabic (as the Quran is written in Arabic), but we weren’t taught the translation. I now spend a lot of my time during Ramadan to really understand the translation of the Quran and the true meaning behind it. This year I’ve also been keeping a journal, so then I can look back at the end of the month and reflect on my Ramadan journey.