Article posted byon Apr 04, 2023
About 25% of the world follows Islam, so it stands to reason that Ramadan is a big deal around the world both spiritually and culturally, and yet there still seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about Ramadan and its true meaning of it among many non-Muslims in the UK. To celebrate and share more about Ramadan, I wanted to get insight from Cobalt’s own Hamza Khan, who joined us in 2021 as an Associate Consultant on our Facilities Management team. I was interested to learn more about the most important month of the year for Islam and why non-Muslim people will often focus on the fasting aspect and don’t always appreciate the faith.
Megan: What is the significance of Ramadan in the Islamic faith?
Hamza: In short, Ramadan is one of the most important months for anyone in the Muslim faith. It is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar when the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Mohammed.
Ramadan above all else is a time for reflection and spending more time with your loved ones; you’re encouraged to increase your prayers and recitation of the Qur’an during this holy month and to be more charitable and kinder to others.
M: People tend to know about the fasting element of Ramadan, but what other activities take place?
H: There are five pillars in Islam – faith, prayer, charity, fasting and hajj. Fasting is the fourth out of the five pillars and by not eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset we aim to increase awareness for less fortunate people around the world, and in turn, appreciate what you do have in your daily life.
But there is much more to Ramadan than refraining from eating and drinking – in fact, that’s the easiest part! It’s also about controlling one’s emotions and thoughts.
Many Muslims attend the mosque and spend several hours praying, we recite a special prayer, tarawih – the night prayer – this is in addition to the five daily prayers which are obligatory in Islam. We tend to spend more time with family, attend larger gatherings when opening our fast, eat together and appreciate loved ones. You are also encouraged to increase charity work this month.
Ramadan is also the best time to become closer to God, to increase compassion, patience, kindness, and our good deeds. The aim is not only to cleanse your physical body this holy month but to nourish your soul. It is a month of unity for Muslims around the world to spread kindness and charity.
M: What questions or comments do you usually get during Ramadan that you would like to change the perspective of?
H: The three main things I usually hear from others are:
People tend to feel sorry for me - but they don’t realise that this is the most exciting time of the year, it's when we come together as a family and community, striving to become a better version of ourselves spiritually.
People eating in front of you – please don’t worry about that, it’s part of the discipline element. It's a test.
'Not even water' - no! Nothing between sunrise to sunset. The act of fasting is meant to be a reminder of the less fortunate and a time to appreciate what you have.
Instead of looking into the not eating aspect, we could look to frame it in a positive light. Fasting is not a time when we are starving, being miserable, or constantly thinking about not being able to eat. We focus on many positive things, this is such a big social time, sharing, unity, giving and sharing faith with the Muslim community and local community. Ramadan is one of the most enjoyable times of the year.
As well as fasting, Ramadan is a time of celebration and joyfulness. This holy month ends with a festival, Eid, this holiday celebrates the end of the fasting period. This is marked by starting off with a massive congregation at the mosque for an early morning prayer. The rest of this holiday consists of feasting, giving and receiving gifts and spending lots of time with your loved ones. Eid reinforces the core reason why we complete Ramadan each year, how are all equally rewarded for the sacrifices and disciplines we make.
M: I’ve seen a lot of useful information around this year on LinkedIn and newsletters about how we can support friends and colleagues who are taking part in Ramadan, and most of it comes back to being compassionate, patient and understanding – many of the same principles that are important in the Muslim faith during Ramadan.
Remember that your colleagues may need more breaks throughout the workday to rest or to pray, keep open communication with them and ask if you can support them, and give encouragement to them throughout the month to acknowledge and appreciate this act of faith.
Thank you to Hamza for sharing with us about Ramadan and how we can all reframe this from a period of fasting to a festival of community and giving back.
Ramadan Mubarak to our Cobalt clients, candidates and colleagues celebrating Ramadan and Eid.