A spiritual comment and prayer to begin the day with Latifa Akay, director of education at Maslaha.
A spiritual comment and prayer to begin the day with Latifa Akay, director of education at Maslaha
Good morning. The start of a new week and the first week of Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims across the world.
A big part of fasting in Ramadan is a sense of community and kinship. In cities across the UK mosques and community groups will open their doors to Muslims and non-Muslims to share food and space. The breaking fast meal every night at sunset is often a joyful communal occasion, replete with overwhelming selections of culinary delights.
Growing up in Belfast, my mum would make my sisters and I ‘Ramadan baskets’ every night, a box of eclectic sweets, chocolate and disappointingly on occasion – dried fruit. Think an edible only Christmas stocking – but in a box. A small gesture but ‘Ramadan baskets’ added to a sense of excitement and togetherness that made the month feel like a special time despite growing up in a small diaspora community.
For many people however, the promise of community at big religious occasions is what can make these times difficult or lonely. For some this will be a reminder of lost or estranged loved ones, a fear of judgement or of a wider disconnect from particular communities. For others, in the case of Ramadan, it may be that they don’t fast and feel isolation in this, or that they can’t fast – for people who struggle with eating disorders, poor mental or physical health. It is always valuable to reflect on how our behaviours in particular spaces – can contribute to people feeling unwelcome or unsafe. Only then can we begin to work towards creating environments that are truly inclusive.
Whether it is at a big occasion or simply business as usual, may we all be guided to reflect on how to make our community spaces inviting and open to everyone, particularly for those most marginalised in our communities. Ameen