Throughout the next 30 days, Muslim colleagues across our Trust will be taking part in Ramadan. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement and worship when Muslims draw closer to God. The act of fasting allows the individual to understand the pain and suffering of millions around the world in poverty and famine, leaving the participant feeling more grounded and grateful for all Allah (God) has given them.
During this month we will be talking to a couple of our colleagues who are taking part in Ramadan to find out what it means to them, and how the Trust is supporting them to allow time to reflect.
Hajara Ugradar is a Deputy Associate Director of Risk and Assurance at the Trust as well as a Freedom to Speak Up Champion. She talks to us about a typical day during Ramadan and what it means to her.
Ramadan – More than just a physical fast
“Today marks the start of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar and one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. Whilst Ramadan is commonly known as the month of fasting from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for 29 or 30 days, for many Muslims, including myself, the month is much more than that. It is a month that encourages us to pause and reflect, deepen our spiritual connection, increase our acts of kindness, donate a proportion of our total annual savings in charity and generally try to work on being the best version of ourselves.
For me, Ramadan is the perfect month to sit in quiet contemplation and reflect on the past year, including what worked well and what didn’t and set my vision and intentions for the coming year. It also teaches me to be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities available to me and makes me think about what life would be like without them.
A typical day
This year, the first day of Ramadan is likely to start with the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) at around 4am and the breaking of the fast (Iftar) taking place just after 6.30pm. Once the clocks change, later this week, Iftar will take place around 7.40pm and increase by a few minutes each day.
When at work my day is business as usual. Depending on time available between meetings, I’ll either take 10-15 minutes to go to the prayer room or I will find a quiet space in the Nursing and Governance corridor to make my supplications and let my colleagues know what I am doing.
I recall last year Ramadan taking place in the middle of a CQC inspection. I had forgotten to prepare something for the breaking of the fast and so I was grateful to find a package of dates and water (traditionally used to open the fast) prepared by the Imams and the Chaplaincy Team for Iftar.
One thing I do find challenging in Ramadan is the lack of sleep. It is often difficult to go back to sleep after the pre-dawn meal and longer evening prayers means a late finish to the day so this year, I have booked some annual leave towards the end of the month to coincide with Eid, the celebration to mark the end of Ramadan.
Last Ramadan, I was lucky enough to join the celebratory breaking of the fast hosted by Professor Munavvar as part of a one day fasting challenge open to all LTHTR colleagues in support of Rosemere Cancer Foundation. This year’s annual one-day ‘LTHTR team fast’ will take place on Wednesday 29th March, with a celebratory breaking of the fast event, where Professor Munavvar, the Imams and colleagues will provide food to share with all challenge participants who are able to attend, and non-fasters who have purchased tickets to join the celebration. It was a great opportunity to share a common experience and I look forward to sharing a similar experience with colleagues again this year.
Whether you are celebrating the month of Ramadan or not, wishing you all a peaceful and blessed month.