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Faith Festivals… Ramadan

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What Ramadan means to me...

by Mohamed Omer, Muslim representative & Chair of Redbridge Faith Forum

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims believe that it is during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Muslims see this month as a time for reflection and self-purification, and abstain from certain pleasures in life, including food and drink, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars in Islam and is compulsory, there are exceptions, such as young children, those who are unwell and pregnant women.

In addition to abstinence from food and drink, there are other actions that Muslims carry out during this month. These actions include:

  • Charity – Many Muslims discharge their obligatory charity (Zakat) during this month;
  • Performance of supererogatory nightly prayers;
  • An increase in the recitation of the Quran;
  • Engaging in optional good deeds and abstaining from actions considered sins.

The length of time that Muslims fast depends on the location and season, with fasting hours varying from eight to nineteen hours. This year, Muslims in the UK will be fasting for nineteen hours.

During Ramadan, Muslims wake up to partake in Suhoor - a meal just before dawn. Once dawn breaks, Muslims are considered to be in the state of fasting until sunset. At sunset, Muslims will break their fast, typically with dates and water. This is called Iftar (the breaking of the fast) and is usually followed by a meal. Breaking the fast at sunset is an occasion for family, friends and the community to come together.

The end of Ramadan is based on the sighting of the new moon and is marked by Eid-ul-Fitr, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. It's one of the two major holidays in the Islamic year and is celebrated with an extra prayer, as well as visiting family and friends, feasting and gift giving.

Mohamed is one of our Muslim representatives and serves as Chair of Redbridge Faith Forum.  He has been a resident of Redbridge since 1989 and is involved with a number of community projects:-

Chair of Oaks Park High School –the only PFI school in the Borough

Trustee of Haven House Childrens Hospice

Director of Big Issue Invest

Executive Member of the Formation of Redbridge Muslim Organisation .