Image of a tealight candle holder in the dark lit up.

Tahira Kulsoom, student at the Henley Business School gives us a personal look into her experience of Ramadan this year and what it means to her:

Image of a Muslim student sitting at a desk smiling.

Peace be to upon everyone out there

Second Ramadan in lockdown, who’d have thought that we would be in this situation? Ramadan is usually the month that you get to see people that you have not been able to all year (due to life taking over & not putting that catch-up into the diary). The month we all inspire each other through volunteering, fundraising, and not forgetting seeing each other for nightly prayers. The mind and soul are important for us all to focus on; this month allows us to focus on them as well as the foundations of our faith.

For me, this month is a moment to recharge my spiritual batteries – pausing on the day-to-day, listening to my body, and slowing down (due to not being able to eat and drink during daylight hours). Towards the end of the day, when I have my dates and milk ready – inching towards breaking my fast, time seems to pass slowly and I reflect on life. Ramadan helps me reflect on who I am, who I have been, who I aim to be, and what potential steps I need to take to get there.

Studying part-time and working full time I had hoped would be enough of a distraction not to think about food! Surprisingly enough Ramadan is a good month for me as I know ‘God is watching’ so I do not think about snacking, I just wish I could do that all year round! Being busy is good, it’s when I pause that my mind starts to wonder.

The biggest thing I miss during Ramadan is drinking water, I can tell that my body misses it and this makes me think about what steps we need to take to protect the world’s drinking water and climate.

Lockdown has changed things for everyone (I miss playing with my basketball teammates – which have been on pause since the first lockdown),  it has been both up and down for me. The majority of Muslims have not been able to get out to pray during Ramadan, which has been hard, and both Eid’s in 2020 felt like they were canceled. Let’s hope things are different this year.

As I was born and have grown up in the UK celebrating is not the same as it would in other countries (i.e. not everyone is celebrating). Because of this, you take any opportunity to come together and recognise that there are others in the community who are and have experienced what you have while fasting. By not being able to celebrate Ramadan or Eid due to lockdowns and restrictions, I feel that it has caused a further disconnect within the community. One good thing which has come out of lockdown is the use of technology and connecting with people, however, it’s not ideal.

A few things which might be of interest to you:

  • Can you give fasting ago? Try it for one day. We only know what life is like when we walk in someone else’s shoes
  • Eating and drinking in front of me is not a problem (as long as there isn’t a smell – good or bad), just don’t eat loudly.
  • Don’t apologise for asking questions. There are many things I am not aware of so I will ask you and others, so ask away
  • Is there something which might be useful for you to limit yourself on – food, phone, social media, games, films, gossip?
  • Do that one or two things which help you to recharge your batteries no matter how small.  Maybe you wish to change a habit (or two). Do small changes so you can sustain them over time
  • Can I give just one hour a week to do some sort of volunteering? Yes! Trust me it can be loads of fun and helps your CV

Just want to end on – everyone please look out for one another.  We are all one community and more connected than we know, both here in the UK and the world around us.

Take care and keep smiling

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