The holy month of Ramadan has just started, which is being observed by University of Nottingham colleagues and students who are Muslim. Our colleague Moe Elmaghrbi, Assistant Professor, Engineering Foundation Programme, has kindly written this guest blog to explain more about the significance and importance of this time within the Islamic faith.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During Ramadan Muslims worship Allah (God) through the act of fasting (in Arabic – Sawm). Fasting in Ramadan is the fourth pillar of the Islamic religion.
Islamic fasting requires a person to refrain from the consumption of food and drink (including water) from dawn until sunset every day of the month. In the olden days, the start of a fasting day was indicated by the time a white thread could be distinguished from a black thread before sunrise. Mosques and establishments now publish a timetable for the month indicating the start and the end of each fasting day.
In addition to food and drink, Muslims cut out any habits or actions that are considered to be of pleasure such as smoking and all sexual relations during the fasting hours. Muslims would also try to make the most of this holy month by reading the Qur’an and praying more.
Here at Nottingham University we have a big Muslim community made up from both colleagues and students. Every year, the Islamic Society runs an Iftar (breakfast) after sunset every weekday at the Portland building. These events are attended by hundreds of students and colleagues, bringing with them a great sense of community.
As Ramadan currently falls within the summer months, the fasting can be as long as 18 to 19 hours in the UK. Most Muslims see this as a blessing, as the whole idea behind fasting is to worship Allah, which means that longer days with working and studying becomes harder and therefore more rewarding. In Islamic countries, the working hours are normally adjusted during Ramadan, this is mainly because there is no lunch break.
However, fasting during Ramadan is not supposed to be harmful, therefore the religion gives licences to those who are not able to fast. For example, an elderly person who does not have the strength to fast does not have to observe Ramadan, a pregnant woman who is worried that her fasting would affect her baby is also exempt, as is a person who is ill or has to take medication. If an exempted individual is able to fast as normal after Ramadan is over, they would need to complete the outstanding fasts later on.
Assistant Professor, Engineering Foundation Programme