Our postmasters and customers come from varied, diverse communities. Millions across the UK will be marking the important Muslim festival of Ramadan this week, and people celebrate it in different ways. Of course, this year is going to be very different.
Rizwan Salahuddin will be one of many postmasters across the country marking Ramadan. Rizwan is a postmaster, in the Greater London region and runs two very busy branches: Finsbury Park and Harringay.
Rizwan said: “I’ve been fasting since childhood and have become used to it over the many years. You can’t eat or drink during the set hours, so first few days are tough as it affects your sleeping pattern and hence it can be tiring working during the day and that’s one of the challenges we must overcome. It lasts for 30 days starting today, and I’m looking forward to Eid. A very Happy Ramadan to you all.”
Read more about Ramadan below. You can also read a short interview with Zeinab at Post Office, about how she will be marking this festival this year given the restrictions we have in place with social distancing and events.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, when the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Observing Ramadan is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.
How is it observed?
Many Muslims will fast each day from sunrise to sunset. This includes not eating food, drinking liquids or smoking. It is common to have one meal known as the suhoor just before sunrise and an evening meal known as Iftar after sunset. Ramadan is a time of prayer and self-reflection, where Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. It is also a time for charity-giving, which can involve both making donations and participating in charitable events.
The spiritual purpose of fasting is the surrender, the submission to a higher authority, which is God. Not eating is central because by abstaining from eating, it is paying attention to the pains of hunger and thirst, and making you aware of those who don't get to break their fast because they're hungry all the time. It’s about making us grateful for what we have. Eating the first meal at sunset, extra prayers, late nights and a heightened emphasis on patience and virtue are all part of experiencing the holy month.
Although fasting is usually the primary association with Ramadan, the month involves a lot more exertion than refraining from food and water. As well as physical things that can break one’s fast, there are also actions that are considered impermissible, like lying, slander, denouncing someone behind their back, greed or covetousness.
We spoke to Zeinab, at Post Office and asked for her thoughts:
“Ramadan is a time in the year where for 30 days we spiritually heal, take time out from our usual fast life style and focus on fasting and reading stories about our religion, educating on bettering our self, giving to charity and feeding the poor, attending pilgrimage, feeding your neighbours, having family together in one place and attending mosque for the daily prayer and especially the night prayer which is the key for us. As you can imagine, during this time, my family and the majority of people in my community are social distancing and the key themes of Ramadan have been impacted.
“However, we’re trying to see this month in a positive light and are doing a few tricks to help us stay mentally and physically strong;
“Food – I am using the advantage of no party gatherings (which equates to delicious hearty foods!) and for breaking our fast we will be trying different healthier recipes for meals or using healthier alternatives in our favourites meals e.g. less oil/fried foods and more baked foods, implementing as much fruit and veg in meals and swapping sugary drinks/juices out for water/flavoured water. For opening our fast, we are trying to implement more fibre as this slow release of energy will help during the day. Additionally, we’re having a rotation system of who will be cooking!
“Physical/mental wellbeing – my family and I are usually busy going to work/mosque/shopping and keeping our selves busy, this year we are deciding to have a schedule who will be doing the family grocery run, organising video calls with the family to stay in touch and for the month to have a feel of normality. I live with some family members and we have agreed to take alone times seriously as being in each other’s face causes frustration when we’re hungry.
“Interactive time – we are trying to learn something new about Ramadan/Islam a day and share it at the dinner table, having activities for the kids to get involved in so they can learn about the month, trying as many new recipes as we can and making some dinner times themed! These may not seem much but doing something different and out of the ordinary keeps us active! “
Do let us know how you are marking Ramadan.