A time for reflection, simplicity, unity and a ‘cleansing of the soul and mind’.
As a working mum with 2 young children I always look forward to Ramadan with a sense of excitement and apprehension. Will I have the patience to get through my working day? Will I have time to do the extra prayers? What meals will make it easier at Suhur? …The list goes on. Yet, each year I find I have the strength to keep my fasts and not need the copious amounts of tea I normally would drink throughout the day or snacks I think I can’t live without. Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy but it’s also not as difficult as you imagine it to be. Then suddenly in the blink of an eye I find the month has passed and Eid is upon us.
However, whilst sitting down at Eid dinner and staring at the unnecessarily large amounts of food that have been prepared each year I also feel a sense of sadness in the joviality of the moment. I am blessed enough to have food to eat. Yet, there are millions of people throughout the world who have no idea when their next meal will be. During Ramadan, I found I appreciated what I normally took for granted every day. It didn’t need to be fancy food, just a simple glass of water or piece of fruit but it tasted divine after a day of fasting. As days and weeks passed post Ramadan and life became hectic again, I realised I missed the serenity and peace the blessed month of Ramadan brought with it. It almost sounds ironic, how can one of the most difficult months of the year in terms of discipline create a sense of calmness and well being? How do I explain or share that feeling with my non- Muslim friends and colleagues who cannot understand why I haven’t shrivelled up in a corner in the heat when I cannot drink, why would I fast (despite it being an obligation) and more than that, why do I generally feel at peace?
And then I heard of the Share Ramadan campaign launched last year by three friends in Oldham. It’s probably normal custom for many to do Iftar (opening fasts) with Muslim families and friends throughout Ramadan, however with Share Ramadan the idea is to ask non-Muslim friends, neighbours, colleagues to fast for a day, invite them to your house for a meal then upload a picture on twitter with the #ShareRamadan.
I’m intrigued. Will my non-Muslim friends be willing to experience a snapshot of what I do during fasting? Will it help them to understand how I feel when I fast? It’s not always easy, there are moments of hunger and impatience. Will they be more tolerant and understanding towards me when I do have days of feeling tired and grumpy? It’s true that Ramadan isn’t just about ‘giving up food and water between sunrise and sunset’ but also just as importantly it’s about reflection, restraint, worship and charity. Will they feel the empathy I feel towards other less fortunate?
There’s only one way to find out. In the current climate of Islamophobia becoming involved in a campaign like this and inviting my non-Muslim friends to be a part of the most important month of the year, to experience and share what Islam teaches first hand, and share the feeling of opening a fast together is exciting.
Enough of the negativity – I want to share the positivity of Islam. I want to #ShareRamadan.
Launch event Tuesday 12th May 2015 @ Eastern Pavillion, Featherstall Road, Oldham, OL9 6HL
Dr Siema Iqbal was born in Manchester. She studied Medicine at the University of Manchester has worked as a doctor for and trained to become a GP in the North West. Currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP Practice, choosing to give back to the community she grew up in and previously presenting on her own live TV medical series on DM Digital. Dr Iqbal also regularly does charity work to raise money for charities both in the UK and abroad and does regular work with ethnic communities to promote health and well-being. In 2014 she also launched her business Doctor Aesthetics whilst continuing to be a busy mum to 2 boys.