Today is the first day of Ramadan and to tell us more, we’re joined by Abdul (left) from our Finance department and Ammar (right) who works in our Account Management team…
Can you explain what Ramadan is?
Abdul: Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar and the month in which the Holy Quran began to be revealed to the Holy Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him). Hence it is of great importance to Muslims around the world! As much as Ramadan is about abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours, it is also about concentrating on your moral and spiritual values to continue the advancement of your spiritual journey.
How does Ramadan benefit those around you?
Ammar: It is a month of really focusing on being thankful for what you have in the forms of food/health/wealth and thinking about how you can share those blessings with the needy and donating to help where possible. This could be financial support or physically helping charities. I have also noticed that as a result of fasting and really appreciating the food/water we have, there is a big focus on waste, and how we must not waste anything. This is then really embedded into our lives as a way of living: only put on your plate what you can eat, only buy what you can use to avoid any wastage of food.
What traditions do you observe during Ramadan?
Abdul: The common traditions I observe include fasting (the abstinence of food and drink) from sunrise to sunset, currently from 4am to approximately 8:30pm. Aside from this, I make a conscious effort to observe the 5 prescribed daily prayers at their appointed times, and as many of these as possible at the mosque in congregation. This is a personal highlight for me - nothing beats the feeling of coming together day in day out with loved ones and strangers alike under the same roof to give thanks and worship our creator. The only other main component of Ramadan for me personally is ensuring that I act in an appropriate manner during a fast i.e. abstaining from talking ill of others and from bad habits.
Tell us about your mindset during Ramadan.
Ammar: Ramadan is very important to me as it helps me to grow my mindset every year, and I build up my strength through being patient and learning about new ways to support others. It's also a very special time to bring families together as traditionally, in my parent’s home, we would all sit around the table each night and enjoy our meal together when breaking the fast. Often we break the fast by first having a date, as it's full of good nutrients and gives the body an instant boost, followed by the meal (it's fair to say it could be like a Christmas dinner most nights).
Do you have to change your lifestyle during Ramadan?
Abdul: Those of you who know me, know I am a very active person and struggle to go a day without playing football or going to the gym/training! This does not change during Ramadan. I stay just as active which takes some getting used to and some shuffling of my day to day, however it does help pass the time! Naps are also key during this time!
What’s your Ramadan routine like?
Ammar: I put the alarm on about 30 mins before sunrise and have some fruit and water (many people have full meals). During the day I carry on as if it's a normal day and maybe knowing the purpose of fasting helps me get through it by willpower. Just before sunset, I prepare my meal (if I am alone) as I would do normally or if with family everyone gets together and has a role to play. My parents don't fast as they are diabetic, but it's still a family affair at the dining table and chaos in the kitchen to make sure everything is ready for sunset.
How do you find working at Camelot through Ramadan?
Abdul: I have found over my years at Camelot that my colleagues and line manager are very understanding and accommodating! Allowing me to start late and finish later to catch up on sleep (those early morning breakfasts at 3am take their toll!) and also allowing me to take breaks to pray. This ensures that I am able to fully take advantage of this blessed month while working to my best ability at the same time.
Is it a challenge working in an office environment during Ramadan?
Ammar: I think working in an office environment when everyone goes for lunch break means I may miss out on the catch ups - but that's about the only thing I miss out on. This is my second year with Camelot and both years Ramadan will be taking place during some form of lockdown, but I must admit that around 4-6pm I start to feel hungry and my energy levels start dropping. The first 10-12 days of Ramadan are usually the easier ones for me, as there is enough in our bodies to keep us going. It's the second half of the month which gets a little more testing.
Is there anything your colleagues can do to support you when you're fasting?
Abdul: My colleagues are always incredibly supportive and often refrain from eating and drinking in front of me out of respect. Though it isn’t necessary, the gesture is greatly appreciated! In the past I have had colleagues also join me for a day to experience the fast, which has been an amazing experience for all involved, including myself!
Any dos or don’ts for your colleagues?
Ammar: Just don't ask me to run a marathon. I need to preserve my energy. Also, don't feel bad for eating in front of me. It's kind of others to support in this way, but it really doesn't make me feel hungry or left out.
Tell us a little more about the night before Eid ul Fitr.
Ammar: The night before Eid is like Christmas eve really. The families are together, the kids will have their own groups and the adults will have theirs. We iron our new clothes (traditionally) the night before, prepare for the big day, cook (rice pudding, cakes) and make phone calls to celebrate. It's the end of Ramadan and whilst many will be thankful for now being able to eat, it's more about the celebration of what has been achieved such as praying, being patient, increased awareness of how fortunate we are and how we can help others and being careful about waste - they all play a role.
How do you celebrate on the day of Eid ul Fitr?
Abdul: Eid ul Fitr is the occasion marked to celebrate the end of Ramadan. It is a joyous occasion where Muslims around the world feel happiness at having the strength to complete the month of fasting and their progress in spiritual advancement. For me, Eid is the icing on the cake – the perfect way to end a month of fasting, with FOOD! The day begins with prayers in the morning, dressed in our Eid outfits (frantically bought the week before Ramadan ends). Following this, we have an ‘Eid breakfast’ which involves a lot of cultural food (very tasty and very filling). The rest of the day is spent with family and – lockdown restrictions permitting – seeing other extended family members and spending the majority of the day having a BBQ! Money is given to the younger siblings and cousins as is tradition (which I unfortunately no longer qualify to receive. And the day ends in a food coma!
Anything else to add?
Ammar: I fast because I want to and because I want to have that relationship between myself and my creator. There is a sense of purity during this month and I simply love the calmness about it. I know many of my family and friends in the Middle East go out to the desert to break the fast under the stars and celebrate each night. I don't think I would want each night to be like that, but hopefully next year we will be able to visit family and friends’ homes again and break the fast together.