What Ramadan Means to Me

Section of Kiswa cloth. C.1900-1940. Source: the Whitworth

Using the Kiswa as a focal point and the Four Corners of One Cloth exhibition, a few words will be shared about Ramadan written by a participant from the Come and Share project /local Islamic community. Ramadan 2020 is well under way, meaning daily fasting from early morning to sunset for Muslims in Manchester, across the UK and around the world. And as worshippers observe their fasting and carry out their prayers at home because the coronavirus lockdown has meant the closure of all mosques, it’s been a very different Ramadan this year.

The end of the month of Ramadan sees the festival of Eid al-Fitr at the start of the next month (Shawwal), celebrating the end of fasting. This year, there will be no public Eid events so celebrations will be confined to people’s households instead.

Ramadan began on Friday April 24 for those who follow the announcements made in Saudi Arabia, which adhere to an advance calendar used by the Saudi government to plan ahead. This Saudi calendar states that Ramadan will end after 30 days on Saturday May 23, with Eid al-Fitr on Sunday May 24. Alternatively, Ramadan began on Saturday April 25 for those basing dates on confirmations of the new moon in the UK, Pakistan, Morocco and some other locations. Islamic officials look for the new moon on the 29th day of each moon and if they see it, the month ends that day. If it’s not spotted, the month goes on another day. –Uthra, Assistant Curator of Textiles and Wallpaper.

Words by Ruba:

Ramadan is a spiritual time of positivity and soul searching with gaining special blessings of goodness and forgiveness. I am extremely blessed to have lived and participated in this years’ fasting which has been at a time of lockdown (fear and uncertainty) due to the coronavirus.

Fasting is a requirement and a pillar of Islam which has proven to have excellent health, physical and spiritual benefits as well as a deep toxin detox for my body.

My Ramadan intention is simply to draw closer to my creator to gain God consciousness and humility (Taqwaa). I also strive to better myself achieving self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy. I feel it’s an important time to deep clean my heart spiritually by refraining from diseases of the heart and any black spots such as negative thoughts, excessiveness, lying, greed, anger, laziness, jealously, hatred, pride, backbiting and showing off because these later can manifest into mental health problems.

Ramadan is my month of giving more and supporting others for the sake of Allah swt, sharing as well as being patient, evaluating my life, supplicating and constantly remembering Allah swt. Forgiving and upholding my family ties of kinship are also very important to me. 

Ramadan is also the month of the holy Quran because not everyone can fast for the complete 30 days but everyone can at least listen to the Quran, which is a divine book from paradise. It has been scientifically proven to heal our bodies by creating a positive electromagnetic field.

The Quran to me is a bright light that leads to paradise and I do try my best to read as well as understand and practice it. The Quran is also known to be a living Miracle and a mercy to all of mankind. It was revealed in the last 10 nights of Ramadan and sent down by 70, 000 angels that lit the magnificent sky. It is beautiful, unaltered.”

Words by Robina:

It is often said that Ramadan is like a rare flower that blossoms once a year and just as you begin to smell its fragrance it disappears. It is my favourite month as it’s a time of reflection, peace and spending time with loved ones. Ramadan isn’t about simply giving up food and drink, it’s about emptying your stomach to feed your soul. This Ramadan is a very different experience for Muslims all over the world due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The lessons of patience and kindness it teaches are much needed right now. In many ways it’s a blessing to welcome the month, bringing clarity at such a strange time.

Fasting (sawm) is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Profession of Faith (shahada), Prayer (salat), Alms (zakat) and Pilgrimage (hajj). The Four Corners of One Cloth exhibition included a fragment of the kiswa, a sacred cloth which covers the Kaaba in Mecca, integral to the hajj pilgrimage, also one of the five pillars. It was so special to experience seeing the kiswa displayed in gallery, as it helped me feel more connected to my faith. I was also able to talk to my family and friends about the importance of hajj and reflect back on my personal experience of pilgrimage. It made me feel like my identity as a Muslim matters and showing objects and artefacts in institutions like the Whitworth is an integral part of what it means to be a multi-faith city.”

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