As Muslims around the world celebrate the fasting month, we asked young Muslims to share their experiences of Ramadan in Australia.
For 30 days, Muslims observing Ramadan will abstain from food, drink, sexual relationships, and other personal desires during daytime. The length of fasting in Australia is shorter than in other parts of the world, since it’s winter in Australia.
But Australian Muslims face different challenges as they carry out their daily routines of work and study in a country where Muslims are a minority, and many people know little about Ramadan and its meaning. We asked four young Muslims to share their experiences of observing Ramadan in Australia:
Andy became a Muslim about eight years ago. For him, fasting is about being thankful for everything that he has in his life. He does feel hungry when fasting, but say the key is to eating well. “Eat healthy food during early breakfast, so it can sustain you for the entire day,” he says.
Andy says Ramadan is about more than foregoing food. Rather, it is an exercise in self-control. “Part of fasting is remembering, a lot of self reflection and self development, and remembering that we are doing it for God. The thing is, we are supposed to control our own emotions. That’s the big part of fasting.”
“It is natural to get hungry,” Ailia says. “In the end, I’d have a feeling towards people who are suffering from hunger and I’d more have control over my temper.” Ailia says she has found being a minority in Australia can be challenging. “People will question me, when I’m fasting or wearing my scarf.”
But Ailia says she’s open about the way she chooses to express her religion, and explains it to those who ask. “Otherwise, Australia is a very multicultural country, so it’s not very difficult to explain what I am doing.”
Originally from Pakistan, Zehra says observing Ramadan in winter is easier, in terms of the weather and timing. But as a student, she finds it hard when she sees others having their meals. “When I go to school and my friends are eating lunch, I just have to pretend that I’m not hungry. But actually, I’m hungry too,” she says. “It’s probably the hardest for me at the moment.”
Zehra often needs to explain about fasting to her friends at school, but once she does, they understand and are very accepting.
Syed Aoun Abbas Rizvi
As a medical student at University of Melbourne, Syed knows the importance of maintaining good health during Ramadan. “We eat enough food and drink enough water before we start fasting,” says Aoun. “I personally try to avoid too much physical activity during the daytime, doing it at night, after fasting.”
Syed says he feels he is a better person because of Ramadan. “My mood is much better in Ramadan and in terms of study or work, I can concentrate better while fasting.”
“I can perform my Islamic duties easily and smoothly in Australia and other western countries, I don’t find it very difficult, we are in a free country.”
Curious about what these Muslims have to say? You can watch the video right here.