Guest post: My experience of Ramadan as a young Muslim girl in Preston

Posted on - 2nd April, 2022 - 10:00am | Author - | Posted in - Health, Opinion, People, Preston News
Jomana Aref
Jomana is raising awareness of the importance of Ramadan

This is a guest post by Jomana Aref, a 17-year-old Muslim girl and former Preston resident who raises awareness on social, political and environmental aspects of our world.

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, known as the month of fasting.

Muslims all across the world will fast for a whole month, meaning they won’t consume anything from the hours between sunrise and sunset. This is to show respect to God and show devotion and patience. It is also a way to experience a small sense of how those in poverty feel so that we can grow our respect towards them.

I’ve been partaking in Ramadan ever since I was a little girl. One of the first times I ever fasted was back when I was living in Preston.

Times were different back then and there was not as much awareness in the community as there is now. However, the people of Preston have always been so understanding and made sure the Muslim community was welcomed.

I remember how my friend and her family once fasted with me for a day as an act of respect. They also gave me presents as a form of gratitude.

Nowadays, articles on Ramadan are much more common, meaning awareness is spread through communities allowing non-Muslims to learn and educate themselves about Ramadan.

During Ramadan, before we begin our fasts, we take part in something known as Suhoor, which is when we have a meal right before dawn. Another meal known as Iftar happens when we break our fast after sunset.

Read more: Iftar packs distributed during Ramadan thanks to Preston North End

Not only do we have food and drinks, we have an opportunity to gather with our family and friends and socialise and pray together. It is a time of reflection for everyone involved and usually me and my family talk about how grateful we are to have food in our lives. We also talk about what we have learnt through the day, and these experiences can include learning more about devotion and patience.

It is vital to know that not every Muslim fasts. Some exceptions include young children, pregnant women and people who are ill, either physically or mentally. 

Over the past two years, Ramadan has changed drastically due to the pandemic. Muslims, including myself, have been unable to gather with other members in the community to pray, visit the mosque and celebrate together.

Jomana Aref
Jomana says Ramadan has been particularly hard during the pandemic

Ramadan during the pandemic was definitely harder than other years. This is because during fasting, changing your environment and going for a walk is really beneficial since it distracts your mind from the feelings of dehydration and hunger. However, due to Covid, this wasn’t possible, meaning many of us felt the effects more intensely.

Personally, due to staying inside all the time, I was prone to more headaches and lower moods, opposite to my usual self. This meant that Ramadan the previous two years were definitely the hardest. 

Read more: Preston North End opens multi-faith prayer room for fans

The dedication I have towards Ramadan is stronger than any struggles I may face. I partake in Ramadan to devote myself to my faith and feel closer to Allah. We, as Muslims, also are reminded of those in our world who are not as fortunate as us and we receive a small sense of how those in poverty stricken circumstances are feeling. Ramadan acts as a reminder for us to never take anything for granted. 

Having spent every year fasting during my time at school, I have felt the effects on both my body and mentality. As someone with strong dedication towards my studies, the effects of the hunger and dehydration can make me feel as if my motivation isn’t as strong as usual. This is because both my body and my mind become tired and my dedication becomes harder to maintain. But, this doesn’t matter to me as my love for Ramadan and Allah come above any struggles I have endured. 

Ramadan has taught me to never take anything for granted because just like opportunities can come and go, so can life at any moment. Ramadan has taught me compassion, gratitude and love for the people in this world who feel as if there is no one in their life to give them compassion, gratitude or love. 

Most importantly, Ramadan has taught me that every single person on this Earth, no matter wealth, race or gender, is the same.

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