The ninth month of the Islamic Calendar is a special time for all Muslims where we abandon some of our normal routines and habits and take a step back to think, fast and reflect.
The rewards can be monumental. We feel closer to God, we attain a greater sense of calm, and we spend more time with our families.
Ramadan has countless positive effects on ourselves, our communities and our society. Its teachings and practices can benefit us all, irrespective of background, faith or religion.
The key aspects of Ramadan is spirituality. Of course, ‘spirituality’ is a broad concept that can mean many things. But overall, it is a sense of feeling a connection to the universe, to something bigger than ourselves. It is a universal human experience - something that touches us all.
Perhaps more than ever before, our lives are hectic. When we have the luxury of downtime, peaceful reflection is a wonderful way to quiet our minds and think about ourselves, our families and the world around us. Meditation is one of the most spiritual states we can be in and Ramadan offers the perfect opportunity to focus on achieving this.
Ramadan offers a time to have extra moments when we turn off our devices – put down our iPads and turn off the TV and communicate with our families and friends. We don’t need to read our work emails at home all the time, we don’t need to like and share things on the internet at every hour, we don’t have to watch the latest episode of our favourite soap opera, live.
We are more connected than ever before and it’s probable that we need a ‘digital detox’ just as we need to detox from food and drink. And by doing so, we have more time to be at one with the real world, real people, the real us. This is a rewarding state of spirituality.
Muslims donate more money to charity during Ramadan than any other group – last year, more than £100million was given in the UK. This generosity to those less fortunate can offer a sense of peace, of care, of being a force for good in the world. These acts of kindness help us achieve a higher state of spirituality, an inner peace that enriches our souls. Let’s hope that we can target some of that money to our own backyard where there are real problems with homelessness, poverty and lack of community resources.
During Ramadan, people of all faiths can visit their places of worship more often and perhaps at different times of the day. This could inspire a different experience and a refreshed way of being immersed in our place of worship. We can’t talk about places of worship without saying that sadly, not all mosques allow women in – a travesty and shameful blight on our community, so lets work to change that. If you are not religious, it’s possible to find a safe spot in nature to meditate. Becoming closer to nature can be an extraordinarily spiritual experience.
Ramadan is, of course, a Holy Month for Muslims. But its positive effects can ripple out into the wider community and we would like to think that everyone can benefit from it.
Ramadan Mubarak to you all.