It's the month of Ramadan for Muslims across the world. We asked Keller Foundations Commercial Manager Yasar Nawaz what it means to him.
The month of Ramadan is sacred to Muslims as it was when The Holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Ramadan (fasting) is also one of the five pillars of Islam (Prayers, charity, declaration of faith, fasting and pilgrimage).
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The exact dates of Ramadan change every year - this is because Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon. This year Ramadan begins on the 22 March and will last around 29 or 30 days.
A lunar year lasts 354 or 355 days, meaning that it does not line up precisely with the Gregorian calendar of 365 days. This also means that Ramadan falls in different seasons every year – going in cycles of around 32 years. The longest daylight hours during fasting take place in summer and the shortest period falls in winter.
Summer fasting is much harder and more testing than the winter as the days are longer, temperatures are higher and its also holiday season so I have to plan holidays around Ramadan. I do get tired in the summer, not so much with hunger but mostly hydration and lack of sleep. Working during Ramadan keeps me engaged and gets me though the day quicker.
The daily fast starts from dawn with a meal known as “suhoor” which is to be eaten before sunrise. After the meal and then throughout the day we refrain from food, drink and all forms of immoral behaviour and thoughts. During the day we offer five prayers. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint and self-reflection. Fasting is seen to cleanse the soul and have empathy for those in the world who are less fortunate than us.
The fast ends at dusk with a meal known as “iftar” which is shared with family, friends and neighbours. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a festival known as “Eid”.
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan. In the morning I attend the mosque for a special Eid prayer. Then we all as a family get together and prepare a meal, the kids are all dressed in new clothes and are given gifts, sweets and money. During the day we will have visitors such as friends and family coming over.
Anytime before the morning Eid Prayer preferably during Ramadan your Zakat must be paid. Zakat (charity) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
Zakat is an obligatory act for every Muslim able to do so. Zakat is the act of giving a set percentage of your total wealth to charity each lunar year to the most vulnerable and needy communities, or to families who are financially struggling and in debt and this payment can me made anywhere in the world. If you are eligible to pay then roughly your Zakat donation should amount to 2.5% of your total wealth accumulated over the year. As an example, if your total assets (after any debts owed) amounted to £10,000, then you would be required to pay £250 as Zakat.
For me, Ramadan is a time for reflection and self-improvement. This includes physical and mental well-being. It gives opportunity to reflect on my life with gratitude and determine how I can better myself. It is also a time for me to focus and resist temptations. Fasting helps me re-learn what it means to be patient, break bad habits and have self-control. It is much like a full body detox, with a holistic approach: physically, mentally and spiritually.
During the month of Ramadan I continue to work and take care of myself by doing my usual activities. Working for Keller allows me to keep my fasts and my colleagues at work, bless them, are mindful and try to refrain from eating in front of me or from offering me food.
I wish all my friends at Keller around the world a Happy Ramadan Kareem.