I vividly remember my second eldest brother taking me to the city centre to treat me to a Manchester United jersey. The year was 1994 and United had just won the double with a squad containing Schmeichel, Bruce, Pallister, Parker, Irwin, Giggs, Sharpe, McClair, Ince, Keane, Hughes, Kanchelskis and Cantona. My idol was Cantona. I’d mimic everything he did; the good, the bad and even the ugly. My favourite party piece was stopping in front of the goal, turning my collars up, looking at the keeper and boom, “au revoir!”…GOAL!
My love for football hasn’t waned and I even managed to bag myself a security job at Old Trafford during my university student days. I got to meet many of the players close up and the best bit is that I got paid to watch football games at the Theatre of Dreams.
Now you’re probably wondering where on earth I’m going with this? What has this got to do with Ramadan? Well, let me tell you what I often say to my weekly students at the Manchester New Muslim Network. Ramadan for me is like pre-season training for a footballer. If you’re looking to have a good season as top class professional footballer, you really need to have had a good pre-season behind you. You need to work on your fitness and your touch, so much so that when the season starts in August, you’re off to a flyer and you have the stamina to keep going till May. Ramadan is a bit like this. It’s difficult, just like pre-season training is for a footballer but it prepares you well for the remaining 11 months. If you put the work in now, you’ll be rewarded for it will a stellar year ahead. It trains your mind to be focussed, to remember the important things and it teaches you order, routine and composure. Modern day life is such that we’re often blazing through at a rate of 100mph and we forget the little things that keep us grounded, focussed and most of all happy. Ramadan is a reminder to me that it’s the nurturing of my relationship with my Creator which is going to bring solace to me in this life and the next. It’s an intense training period where for 29 or 30 days, I’m yearning for a closer connection with my Creator constantly remembering Him through my actions. The days are made up of refraining from food, drink and sexual desires and the night is dedicated to extra prayers. Your thoughts are tested, your patience pushed, but in the end, you feel a great sense of accomplishment and feel sorrow that the blessed month of Ramadan has come to an end. The trick now is making Ramadan count by carrying the legacy of Ramadan with you through the remaining 11 months.
Ghulam Esposito Haydar
Ghulam Esposito Haydar is a qualified Pharmacist and currently works in the Greater Manchester area. He has a special interest in Neuropsychiatric disorders having completed undergraduate elective modules in this area as well as completing a master’s thesis on this subject. He is highly active in the Community Outreach and New Muslim Support circles in his city – Manchester. He is one of the founding members of the Myriad Foundation where he is a board member and fulfils the role of head of Public Relations as well as leading on their services, My Hospice Buddy and the Manchester New Muslim Network.
The views expressed in this blog are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Share Ramadan.