Ramadan, a month of mindfulness and spiritual reawakening
Written by Noreen
My earliest memory of Ramadan is as a little girl aged six or seven, watching my grandmother agonisingly pace up and down the stairs. She was anticipating the moment that she could finally break her fast and savour the sweet taste of her first sip of water since 2am that morning. If my maths serves me correctly, she would have been fasting during a British summer. Those 10pm sunsets we get in June? Yep, not so exciting during Ramadan! As a child I wondered why she would inflict such torture on herself, and I decided in that moment that fasting was definitely not for me.
Fast forward a few decades and I eagerly await this most special month, praying everyday that I make it to the next Ramadan so that I can experience the feeling all over again. There is something so special about this time, that despite the hunger pangs, the lack of sleep and lethargy, once it’s over, all you wish is that it comes around again quickly and that you’re still around to experience it.
Now as a mum myself I yearn to recreate my childhood Ramadan for my girls. Being woken up in the middle of the night, rubbing our eyes as we attempt to take just one more bite because “You’ll regret it in the morning if you don’t”, and spending the entire day counting down the minutes to the moment we can eat. The smell of pakoras wafting through the entire house, the overworked kitchen with an array of pots and pans sizzling away over a hot stove, our ever patient mother lovingly preparing a feast for her family in the countdown to Iftaari. Ramadan food in 2022 may be consciously lighter and healthier, but we’ve created new traditions that I hope the girls will cherish as they grow up.
Ramadan is not just a test of endurance through the abstinence of food (although the hangry days are really hard!). It is a month of mindfulness and spiritual reawakening. The hustle and bustle of everyday life is superseded by remembering to be kinder, more charitable, maintaining discipline and reconnecting with your core beliefs. It is a physical and spiritual detox. Life is stripped bare; take food and any worldly pleasure out of the equation and Ramadan reminds you about how you use and misuse your precious time on this earth. Time stands still in the day – I feel accomplished, connected and find it to be a uniquely humbling experience. It’s an opportunity to change habits, intentionally taking time out to be reflective, and making a special effort to feel connected during prayers and the recitation of the Quran. I have better mental clarity and improved mood and memory.
Ramadan brings with it a special sense of community. Neighbours appreciate receiving copious amounts of food, all in the spirit of sharing, and families come together to break their fasts. It’s a social month with an even bigger social event to mark the end – Eid-ul-Fitr. Children and adults alike look forward to dressing up, receiving presents, eating in daylight (which feels entirely alien after 30 days) and appreciating all the simple blessings that they have in their lives.
Prepare for Ramadan with energising suhoor recipes to set you up for the day and iftar dishes such as soups, salads and snacks that everyone will enjoy. View here via BBC Good Food.
10 Top Tips for Ramadan
View here via Islamic Relief
What is Ramadan?
View here via BBC Bitesize