Ramadan 2022. Much more than fasting, prayer and dates.

Henna Mahmood talks about what's behind this month's Ramadan.
May 19, 2022

In addition to being one of the team ready to brighten your day at Waitrose in Otley, Henna Mahmood is a bona-fide Northern Champion – and this week, as Ramadan commences for the Islamic members of our communities – she is embarking on a very special project with John Lewis and Partners.

‘Reaching-out’ could possibly be the most over-used phrase of the moment, but that’s exactly the kind of action that makes us all feel included – and breaks down barriers. At Mag North, we love a bit of ‘reaching-out’ so we were thrilled when Henna and the team at John Lewis got together to write some words for us…

Henna Mahmood

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by over 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. It is a month of sawm (fasting) to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him) the founder of Islam, on Laylat ul-Qadr (Night of power).Muslims abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset.

Ramadan is the time of year when you can reconnect with yourself, your family and God. For me, Ramadan is a time of self-reflection and being thankful for what you have in your life. My family and I wake up each day, in the early hours of the morning, we call this Sehri, and we eat something before Sunrise begins. Then in the evening, we break our fast which is called Iftar. This is at the exact time of sunset. Delightful snacks, fresh fruits and juices, and dates are normally used to open our fast.

There are many community gatherings held and small charity events during Ramadan. Here sermons are given. Some organise Ramadan tents and anyone is welcome to eat there, the poor, the needy and you do not have to be Muslim. We also share food with neighbours, family and friends and there is always lots of food in Ramadan to go around.

I have been a revert for number of years and I am still learning about Islam. I live with my husband and two boys, and they both love fasting knowing not to eat or drink. This is a huge challenge for us all but a magical time for all of us spiritually. Ramadan teaches us all to be grateful for all the blessings surrounding us and get to feel what it is like for those that are less fortunate than us.

Henna Mahmood

This year I decided to do dawah, which in Islam means inviting or calling people to embrace learning about Islam. I’ve made gift bags for my fellow Partners at Waitrose Otley, which include a spiritual booklet, Quran and a Ramadan note from Sharon White, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership.

I have also contributed to an education pack on Ramadan, which will be circulated internally across Waitrose and John Lewis, to educate Partners and provide advice on how to support people who are fasting. We also have a Faith, Belief and Religion Network, which create similar packs for other religious events throughout the year.

During Ramadan I tend to follow the examples set by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by doing as many good things as I can and practicing self-contentment. Muslims offer money to charity, which is known as Zakat, this is given annually. This is also one of the five pillars of Islam and is an obligatory act by giving 2.5% of your wealth to the poor and needy.

When Ramadan comes to an end Muslims celebrate Eid. In our household my boys go to mosque to do their Eid prayers, (women are welcome to go too). There are two dedicated times of Eid in Islam that Muslims celebrate as per the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) guidance: Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha. Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated after Ramadan and Eid ul-adha is celebrated after hajj.

This is a time to be more forgiving and understanding. A time to be kind to yourself and to others. We should show gratitude and remember the ones we have lost especially in good and bad times.

Henna Mahmood

There are many websites one can read to learn more about Ramadan and Islam that you can access online, or you can go into a mosque as they will welcome you openly.

I want to wish that you all have a blessed Ramadan and Eid. But at the same time, do think of those that are suffering all around the world and pray that their prayers are answered too.

Article Header Image Credits: Tim Green.