Reconnecting through Ramadan

Cultural Heart People of Adelaide

Every year, Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The start date of Ramadan changes every year because the Islamic calendar uses the lunar calendar, which follows the phases of the moon. This year, the first day of Ramadan (commencement of fasting at dawn) was on 24 April and the final evening will be on Saturday 23 May.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe many important practices including fasting between sunrise and sunset. Along with faith, prayer, charity, and making the pilgrimage to Mecca, Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – which is the basis of how Muslims live their lives.

The primary goal through Ramadan is to build a stronger spiritual relationship with Allah, or God, through prayer and reciting the Quran, and to engage in charitable or selfless pursuits. Normally, Ramadan is a time when families and wider communities gather to break fast or congregate at their local mosque for prayer. But 2020 is no normal year and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions has meant Muslims everywhere have had a very different Ramadan experience over these last weeks.

For City of Adelaide Area Councillor Arman Abrahimzadeh OAM, Ramadan has always been a time of personal reflection but - whatever the year - it is also a month that, as he puts it, will "test any human". This year has thrown up some extra challenges.

"Whether it’s psychological or physical, one can find Ramadan a bit of a struggle, especially at the beginning. But it’s a time to reflect on who you are as a person, find out your strengths and weaknesses that you may not have otherwise known if you hadn’t tested your limits," said Cllr Abrahimzadeh.

"One of the things I love about Ramadan is breaking fast with family and friends. Given the restrictions on social gatherings, it is extremely difficult to re-create big family gatherings via online meeting platforms. Sure you can talk, text, Facetime and have a family 'Zoom' meeting but it will not replace a handshake or some basic face to face interaction. Knowing that these restrictions would be temporary has helped me and my friends get through this phase."

Ramadan ends on the evening of 23 May and, with its conclusion, comes the start of a new celebration known as Eid al-Fitr or the ‘festival of breaking the fast’.

"I will mark Eid Al-Fitr by reflecting on both the positives and negatives that I have come across during the month of Ramadan. Learning from those experiences and taking them with me to the following years. It’s this sort of reflection that creates self awareness and I think that’s important for every single of us, regardless of our different cultures and religion."
City of Adelaide Area Councillor, Arman Abrahimzadeh OAM

We reached out to other members of Adelaide’s Muslim community to find out how they experience Ramadan in Adelaide, how it differs from their birth countries, and how they have adapted this year to ensure they can remain connected with friends, family, and their community through this important time.

Read their stories below

Members of the local Muslim community share their experiences of Ramadan in Adelaide

"It is a very unusual Ramadan this year. It is kind of sad because we miss the gatherings, our family, friends and mosques. We can only meet each other virtually. Nevertheless, we are able to use our time to focus more on our prayers instead, especially for good health and protection during this difficult time. We also listen to live-streaming and recorded sermons.”
Rini, born in Indonesia

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“(This year) we have stayed in, however we have been sharing iftar by cooking at home and dropping them over at friends and maintaining social distance (like not entering their houses, etc). And likewise, we’ve received iftar from our friends here in Adelaide. We miss going to the mosque for Taraweeh but staying home means we can pray together at home after iftar.”
Farwah, aged 29, born in Bangladesh

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“It (Ramadan) definitely feels more festive back in Singapore, but the quiet time here (in Adelaide) allows me to spend more time on my spiritual journey, no matter how non-linear it may be.”
Farhana, aged 34, born in Singapore

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“Although it seems that it’s happier or better to have spent Ramadan in Singapore, no doubt I miss those times, Ramadan here is more peaceful and I can focus more on my devotion to God. I don’t have to decorate my rented house to welcome Syawal (the month after Ramadan) or to worry about new clothes etc. In fact, my Ramadan in Adelaide has been a better experience in terms of improving my devotion to God.”
Norishaam, aged 49, born in Singapore

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"When I step outside of my house it feels like any other day in Adelaide. The food shops are open, other people eating during the day used to feel strange in the beginning ... It may not be as festive and as grand as back home on a collective level but, it is a personal journey at the end of the day and being away from all the hustle and bustle gives you more time to be reflective. I feel that I do more because of less socialising.”
Mehwesh, aged 37, born in Pakistan

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Article by

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.