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What Ramadan means to me

The text of my 90 second "Thought for the Week." For me, Ramadan is mainly about reducing external activities to concentrate on reading and reflection.

30 May 2016

Yesterday I gave my 30th "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester.

As Ramadan will be starting soon, I made that the theme of my talk, as reproduced below. A year ago I wrote a personal perspective on Ramadan for the Council of Christians and Jews which you may also want to read.

Thought for the week

In just over a week’s time, it will be the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is holy because it is the month when, via the Archangel Gabriel, God began to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

When I was growing up, very few non-Muslims knew much about Ramadan. Today I think that most people in Britain know that Ramadan is the month when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.

For weeks my local supermarket has had signs up saying “Ramadan is coming”. I don’t regard that as commercialism. I am happy to see the Ramadan sign, just as I am happy to see the supermarket recognising other religious dates such as Christmas, Easter, Jewish New Year and Diwali.

I recently asked myself why Muslims fast during Ramadan. In one sense, the answer is very simple. God has commanded us to fast, so we do.

However, what my question is really asking is what fasting means to us as individuals. I think everyone has a different answer.

For some, going hungry during Ramadan helps them to identify with unfortunate people in other countries who literally do not have enough to eat.

For me, even in retirement, my diary is normally full, but Ramadan fasting provides a reason to avoid appointments. Ramadan means I can spend the time at home reading and learning, instead of going out attending events. Ramadan becomes like going on a spiritual retreat, except that instead of heading off to a monastery, I just spend the time at home, which is a great deal easier, and of course cheaper!


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