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Ramadan, the 30-day period of ritual fasting and abstinence marked by Muslims, has just come to an end in the UK.
I’ve been working for the Co-op for 13 years and fasting for almost 20 years, over this time I have fasted while at work – I remember when I would ask for my 20 minute break at iftar time (when we open the fast) so I could go into the breakout area and eat.
As Ramadan is based on a lunar calendar it moves every year. Over the past few years fasting has become a little tougher because it’s during the longest and hottest days of the year in May and June.
Last year I used some of my annual leave and had Wednesdays off work so I could have a midweek break to catch up on rest, sleep, prayers and housework. This isn’t always possible in a customer facing role, as is getting holiday for Eid which can be disappointing, although I’m very fortunate in my current role where this isn’t an issue.
Fasting is really important to me
I really enjoy the challenge of testing my body to its limits and the focus on prayer and spiritual aspects. My family and I focus on spending quality time together during Ramadan and will pray and eat our meal together.
This year my 8 year old son asked me if he can fast, so over the weekends he did his own ‘mini-fast’ where he skipped breakfast and waited as long as he could for lunch. I mad sure to give him dates and plenty to drink when he opened his ‘mini fast’.
I like to make sure that my colleagues know about Ramadan and know when fasting is coming up so they can be mindful of this. I have a really supportive team who try not to book meetings with me later in the afternoon when I start to flag a little.
I would recommend fasting to others
You might be surprise by what you are capable of, and there are numerous health benefits to fasting including weight loss, reduced blood pressure and reduced cholesterol.
Fasting ends after 29 or 30 days depending on when the next new moon is sighted, so you don’t know until the evening before whether or not it is Eid the next day. On the day itself, we wear our best clothes, and gather with family and friends to mark the end of Ramadan.
There is a special prayer at mosque and we decorate our homes and prepare food to share with our family and neighbours. My family make Siweya, a traditional sweet dish of vermicelli and milk for breakfast.
Ramadan and Eid gifts are becoming more mainstream and it adds to the excitement especially for younger children. I was able to get a ‘Ramadan advent’ calendar which counted down to Eid this year, which my son really loved, and more retailers are now stocking Ramadan or Eid gifts.
I enjoy shopping for Eid gifts for my family, I definitely see some similarities between Eid and Christmas.
Customer Relations Analyst