Ramadan is well underway, with Muslims from all over the world marking the holy month through varying traditions and celebrations.
With Islam being the second largest religion in the UK, global cross-border payments company, WorldRemit, spoke to Muslims from across the country to find out how they’re overcoming social restrictions to celebrate Ramadan this year.
Maximising charitable efforts
A core part of Ramadan includes Zakat, an act of charitable giving. Rafiq Hayat, President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, which is home to the Baitul Futuh mosque in south London, the largest in western Europe, said: “Throughout the pandemic, our faith has been a source of much strength and comfort, and it has also inspired us to redouble our efforts for charity, especially for the vulnerable. Hundreds of neighbourhood schemes were set up by our local branches to help those most in need – not only the less fortunate but also the heroic frontline workers – by providing food, provisions, medicine or even just a friendly call to provide social relief to the elderly and those self-isolating.
“We seek to strengthen our faith through fasting, prayers and further humanitarian work. Eid will provide an occasion to unite in the spirit of prayer, to remember our loved ones, and to celebrate our faith with family and friends. It is of course harder when you cannot be closer together, but despite this, we are united by faith and our ethos of Love for All, Hatred for None, because it is only by working and standing together that we can, and will, get through this difficult time.”
Virtual Eid celebrations
Eid marks the end of Ramadan and typically brings families and friends together in celebration. While lockdown restrictions are gradually being eased, the rules that are still in place will restrict families from gathering on the same scale as they might normally.
Nahid Rasool, CEO of Shantona Women’s Centre in Leeds, says this is a time for thinking of others: “Ramadan is a time for reflections, repentance and selflessness. Thinking about others, giving extra to charity and helping those who are less fortunate. It is hoped that we can all then continue with these practices after Ramadan.
“Covid may impact how we celebrate, but I am hoping to celebrate Eid with my family and friends, in person and virtually.”
Keeping up with traditions
For Muslims who have moved to the UK from other parts of the world, Ramadan can be a very different experience.
Sara, a Community Support Worker at young women’s charity, Getaway Girls, comments on the importance of community and keeping up traditions: “Ramadan in the UK is very different to back home in Ethiopia, especially now during the pandemic. On the whole, for me, Ramadan is a way for me to give back to the community, ask for forgiveness, forgive people, pray and think about my family back home.
“Usually we would celebrate by going to people’s homes, but unfortunately due to Covid it’s quite lonely this year. We have tried to keep up with traditions by cooking for each other; as we can’t celebrate in person, this is a nice way to break our fast together.
“Here we wake up in the morning and it’s very quiet, however back home we would be able to hear the prayers really loud. Our fathers and brothers would be in the mosque since Iftar and when they come back from the mosque in the morning they would wake us up to eat. It’s very different here, more silent, though we do have a good community here too!”
A spokesperson from WorldRemit added: “Ramadan is such a special time of year for the Islamic community and allows everyone to celebrate their faith with family and friends closer to home, whilst also allowing them to connect to others further afield.
“As a global organisation, WorldRemit has always had a deep connection with the Islamic community, from our diverse workforce, to customers around the world who use our services to make fast and safe international payments.
“It’s fantastic to see how muslims in the UK are celebrating the holy month with such a huge focus on charitable giving following the tough year we’ve experienced. It’s also amazing to learn about the different Ramadan traditions practiced by Muslims around the world.”