What Ramadan Means To Me Interview with Junayd (Jay) Ali, Recruitment Consultant
Jay was born in the UK and his family came to the UK from Pakistan; his father in 1975 and his mother in the early 1980’s. Jay has 3 sisters and 1 brother and is a role model to his younger siblings.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the exact dates change every year. This is because Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the moon. This year, Ramadan begins on the evening on 22 March and ends on 21 April.
The following interview gives a real insight into what Ramadan and Eid mean to Jay and the rest of the Muslim community.
What happens during Ramadan?
During Ramadan we have to fast every day between sunrise and sunset. Fasting isn’t just giving up food as we cannot drink anything (not even water!) and we also can’t do things like swear or smoke. Giving things up like this makes us appreciate what we have.
How does Ramadan make you feel – it must be hard not being able to eat or drink for long periods?
When I’m fasting, I can feel tired, hungry, thirsty and stressed but it’s a blessing and helps me work to become a better person. I actually look forward to it as it makes me feel good about myself, it teaches me to be a better person and the family and community come together.
What do you eat when the fasting ends each day?
I try to be really healthy and drink a lot of water, eat a lot of fruit and have things like rice, chicken and fish. It’s really important to eat healthily to get my energy levels back up. I try and avoid things like samosas! We also have to break our fast with either water or dates. I have a 5KG box of dates in readiness!
Can you cook?
My mum and sister do the cooking but I am learning!
What can your colleagues at Acorn do to support you during Ramadan?
My colleagues have a lot of respect for me and my religion and make allowances for me being tired and less able to concentrate. I am able to pray in the office in Preston, I’m able to work from home when I need to, and my colleagues have shown me a lot of respect and love. Having the freedom to pray in work is so important to me. I have booked holidays for Eid which were accepted straight away. My colleagues have also wished me Ramadan Mubarak which means ‘have a blessed Ramadan’; this means so much to me.
What is Ramadan like in your local community in Preston?
Preston is very diverse and my family and I are accepted in the local community. When my dad first came to the UK, there was a lot of abuse but things are much better now and we are able to express our religion. We also get on very well with our non-Muslim neighbours. I know lots of different languages e.g. Urdu and Punjabi and this helps me communicate with a diverse range of candidates.
What’s the biggest and most important thing that you have learned during previous Ramadans?
Patience is probably the biggest lesson I have learned, although I am still trying to master it. I have also learned how important it is to be healthy and have a good diet.
What happens if someone is unable to fast due to illness?
The only time you are able not to fast is due to illness. My dad can’t fast and instead, he donates £5 each day of Ramadan which is then given to the Imam who donates it to the poor.
Do children observe Ramadan?
Young children don’t but those that have reached puberty do.
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
Ramadan can last for 30 or 29 days, depending on the moon. At the end of Ramadan, we celebrate Eid (Eid al-Fitr). Eid is a celebration where we put on our traditional clothing, eat, pray and meet up with our family. We eat things like rice, kebabs and samosas and go to the mosque to pray. We also exchange gifts e.g. toys for children.
What does Islam mean to you?
Islam is all about peace and it helps me to be humble, respectful and a good human being.
Thank you so much Jay for sharing your experience of Ramadan and Eid; we have learned a lot. Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family.