Our Global Voices

Our Global Voices Series showcases submissions by Faculty of Arts students that highlight significant dates and cultural celebrations.

Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. It is the holiest month for Muslims as it is believed the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed during Ramadan. During this month, Muslims do not consume any food or drinks between fajr and maghrib prayers (at dawn and sunset).

The Islamic calendar is lunar and based on the cycles of the moon. Observances begin the morning after the crescent moon is visibly sighted, marking the beginning of the new month. In 2020 Ramadan will be observed 23 April to 23 May.

Ramadan Prayer

We asked some of our students to tell us about Ramadan, why it is important to them and some of the challenges they have overcome during COVID19.

Ria Febriany Arief: Master of Public Administration

1. Why is Ramadan important to you?

Ramadhan is important to me because as Muslims, it is the only month in a year where I could conduct my ‘spiritual’ detox on myself and our whole existence. It is the time for ‘stop’ and ‘reflect’ on what we have done previously,  what we have accomplished – both on a spiritual level (between human and God) and with other fellow human beings and how we can make ourselves a better individual. For me, Ramadhan increases your spiritual being within you but at the same time, increases your patience and mercy. As Muslims, we always look forward to Ramadhan because it is not just about own spiritual journey but also about giving, caring and spreading the love and good deeds to people around you regardless of your religion or background. Ramadhan is also considered as a month of reconnecting and re-acquainted with families and friends. It is an exciting time because often we break the fast together, particularly with those whom you don't see often. It is an opportunity to meet your family members who you don't see often or friends that you hardly see

2. What do you do in recognition of this significant month in the Calendar?

During Ramadhan, I woke up early to eat a pre-dawn meal called Suhoor and then break the fast during the night  (iftar). In welcoming Ramadhan, I usually prepare myself by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water and ensure that I am equipped to do the fasting during one month period. Normally, we attend prayers at the Mosques and breaking the fast with family, close friends and colleagues together.  Different cultures have different traditions during Ramadhan, and for Indonesians, we often have special food that we have to cook or delicacies such as sweets to accompany our fasting.

3. In light of Covid19, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome these?

This year Ramadhan will be very challenging and different like no other.  The social distancing means that we cannot perform our night prayers, we cannot go to the mosques nor break the fast with others  Muslims including sharing with the needy and those who are at most disadvantaged.  The essence of togetherness and solidarity will be different as most of us will be in our own home. This year Ramadhan is going to be very different and tough as most of us are away from our family and loved ones during this time. Nevertheless, as Ramadhan has thought us, it is also a time for us to accept the situation and embrace it positively.  So, the way we overcome this situation is by accepting it and continue performing our fasting and other dua's as usual. And, thanks to technology, there is no way of stopping us from contacting our loved ones back in Indonesia and contacting our fellow Muslims. We may arrange to break the fasting via zoom or skype as the new norm for fasting this year. The use of zoom and skype application has helped us through this challenging period and no doubt it will do the same for the upcoming Ramadhan.

Aliya Ahmad: Master of Public Policy and Management

1. Why is Ramadan important to you?

Ramadan has always been an important part of my life because it helps me cleanse my body (physically and spiritually) from negative things and allows me to reset my intentions as a Muslim. It's a time where I mingle with other Muslims in Australia, and gives me a chance to feel connected to community even though my family lives overseas in Pakistan and Malaysia.

2. What do you do in recognition of this significant month in the Calendar?

observe Ramadan by fasting during the day, praying, and donating money to those who are less fortunate. I usually cook big iftaars (dinner when you break your fast) and invite friends (both Muslim and non-Muslim) over. We eat dates together to break fast and drink a rose syrup drink called Rooafza and then eat. It's a time where I check in with loved ones overseas and donate money to those less fortunate. Each year, I like to set a goal for myself at the start of Ramadan. This year, with Covid19, my goal will be much more personal as I will be contemplating my identity as Pakistani-Australian Muslim in isolation.

3. In light of Covid19, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome these?

Ramadan (and Eid) always feels a bit strange to celebrate without family around you, but having a community of diaspora Muslims has always helped make it feel special. This year, our iftaars are going to be held virtually which will be an interesting experience, but necessary to flatten the curve and curb the spread of Covid19. I'm going to treat Covid19 as another test from Allah (SWT) and will use the time that I have to myself to understand more deeply what Islam and my Muslim identity means to me.

Abdulaziz Alshahrani: PhD, Faculty of Arts

Why is Ramadan important to you?

It is essential as it represents one of the five Islamic pillars. Islam has five pillars, which are witnessing there is no God except Allah, the only God. Second, performing prayers. Third, doing Zakat (a charity). Fourth, fasting Ramadan. Fifth, making the pilgrimage. As a Muslim, therefore, it is obligatory to fast this month in compliance with the command of God. It is obligatory for all Muslims, who are especially in good health, to fast this month.  Exceptions from fasting are those who are either sick or who are travelling.

What do you do in recognition of this significant month in the Calendar?

This month is significant and this means that for this community different things are done. First, as a sense of celebrating, Muslims congratulate each other as a means of celebration and for support for fasting this month. Other preparations include preparing food to be eaten during the night. Mostly, people break their fasting at sunset with dates and water. It is an Islamic tradition and there could be a scientific point behind it, as the body may need sugar that can be best equipped with this type of fruit. People then can eat a different variety of food through the night like having a particular type of soup, for example. Other activities include meeting with relatives or friends and having breakfast together.

In light of Covid19, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome these?

Having a family with two kids, it was not easy to cope with this new situation with Covid19. It meant that more efforts should be exerted to fulfil the family needs, especially with a daughter who cannot go to school now. In terms of fasting Ramadan, there would not be much of a challenge since fasting does not necessitate mingling with people. It is absolutely a personal act.

Abdulaziz  has also shared a recording with  us about what Ramadan means to him here

More Information

Amelia Terry

arts-studentprograms@unimelb.edu.au