This week marked the beginning of the month of Ramadan for many of our people. We spoke with Akif Malik, Senior Strategy Analyst – PNIC about what Ramadan means for him!
“Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, the end of which is marked by the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Fitr”, says Akif. “During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking (including water) in the period between sunrise and sunset. We can eat normally while it’s dark. Meal times actually form a huge part of our day and how we organise our daily routine. Once you take them away, you’re left with a lot of time. I particularly enjoy this aspect of Ramadan as it allows me time to reflect on myself and life in general.”
How do you, your family and friends participate in Ramadan? A lot of Ramadan is intended to be spent engaging in prayer and charity. Friends and family get together in the evenings to share the breaking of the fast (iftar). Because Islam is a religion practised by people of many different cultures and ethnicities, there are often special foods which make a prominent appearance in Ramadan. In subcontinental Asia, samosas are a very traditional Ramadan food.
What’s one of your favourite memories about/experience of Ramadan? My favourite memory of Ramadan is waiting for the sighting of the moon. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and there’s always a bit of suspense and drama before the new moon is sighted and the month of Ramadan is welcomed.
Describe the experience of Ramadan for those who know little about it. For me, Ramadan forces me to take a step back from everyday life. I try and use the month to improve myself. Usually I focus on trying to be a nicer person to people around me, trying to spend more time praying, and giving back to the community through charity of volunteer work.
What would you like your colleagues to know while you participate in Ramadan? Ramadan is a month characterised by piety, charity and sacrifice. Fasting is a critical part of that, however there are many other elements that may be less obvious. For instance, people are encouraged to avoid losing their temper, or getting angry (which is much harder on an empty stomach!) It is all about trying to be the best you can be in terms of your personal behaviour and your contribution to your community through charity and volunteering.