Today, Muslims around the globe are celebrating Eid al-Fitr. A day when the fast that has been undertaken for a month during Ramadan, is broken. Hajer Jemai, Case Manager in the Customer Care team is just one of the many employees at Medibank who have taken part in this year’s Ramadan and happily shared the true meaning of it all.
“Ramadan happens once a year for a whole month. During this time, we fast from sunrise to sunset, with the purpose of remembering to appreciate what God has given us throughout the whole year.”
Fasting Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, just like praying and giving to charity, therefore it’s obligatory for every Muslim to observe Ramadan with exception to the elderly, sick, pregnant and young.
“It’s between you and God. Ramadan is about self-control about everything, not just food and drink. It’s about learning to control your desires, whilst also teaching patience and gratification. Ramadan reminds us that we are connected to a higher being and that even if other humans can’t see your actions, God can.”
Hajer with her family.
Ramadan is also a time when Muslims put a big focus on giving back to the less fortunate. Hajer says that this is one of the most important teachings during this special month in the Islamic calendar.
“In Islam, we believe that during Ramadan, every good action you do, you will get 10 times the reward. It’s the most important thing, regardless of what you give, to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.”
A month after Ramadan begins and once the new moon has been sighted, the month of fasting ends and Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Literally speaking, ‘Eid al-Fitr’ means a celebration of breaking fast. This can go on for either 1 or 3 days. On this day, fasting is prohibited and the day starts with a special prayer, thanking God for the past month and everything he has given.
“Muslims from all walks of life go to their nearest mosque. The Imam will give a lecture reminding us of everything that is good and encourage us to keep worship in our daily lives.”
During Eid, Hajer and her family exchange lots of gifts in celebration.
Eid al-Fitr is a true celebration for Muslims, during which plenty of sweets are available and the coming together of family and friends is a top priority.
“Majority of the dishes that are served on Eid are sweets because we need to get our sugar levels back up after a month of fasting. Back in Tunisia where I’m from, people also leave fish in salt all night and then fry it with the purpose that it will make individuals drink more water. Every culture will have different foods on offer but sweets are the main event.”
Plenty of sweets on offer, to end the fast of Ramadan.
You could say that Eid al-Fitr is the equivalent to Christians’ Christmas. It’s a time Muslims come together in their newest and best outfits, and gifts are given to friends and family. It is also very common to have an open-door policy with people welcoming others into their homes to continue the festivities.
Hajer’s community Eid celebrations.
Hajer says that although the rituals carried out on the day of Eid are the same throughout different countries in the world, there are still differences between cultures.
“I used to live in Ethiopia, so I’ve celebrated it there as well as in Bulgaria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Germany. The differences just really depend on where you are in the world. In a Muslim country, there are obviously more people celebrating and more people to see than in other places.”
Medibank is a strong ambassador of diversity and inclusion, and celebrating Eid al-Fitr in the workplace is just one of the ways the company embodies this.
“There’s a lot of cultural diversity at Medibank, it’s so clear that the business actually cares to understand and spread awareness about different cultural events. When you find a company that’s accepting of the things that are important to you, it’s hard not to be positively impacted. I’ve truly found comfort here.”