BLOG: Taking part in a day of fasting this Ramadan

BlogUpdated: 24 April 2024Community and living

Three Rivers District Council’s Community Liaison Officer, Jay Williams, took part in a day of fasting this Ramadan as part of a personal initiative to better understand cultures outside of his own and bring awareness to the different cultural customs within our district. One part of his role, the most pertinent to this blog, is the celebration of different cultures and promotion of community cohesion. This is Jay’s story:

For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of introspection, communal prayer (ṣalāt) in the mosque, reading of the Qurʾān and fasting (sawm) from dawn to dusk.

To prepare me for my fast and get a better understanding of Ramadan, I spoke to a local faith leader to delve into the customs and significance of Ramadan.

I met Misbah Jalil, a co-founder of Chorleywood prayer Group. He told me: “It’s important to highlight that Ramadan is so much more than just not eating and drinking water.

“Ramadan is a time of reflection and prayer.”

Misbah said that Ramadan has allowed him to focus on the Quran. This time of reflection gives the opportunity to realign daily actions with the teachings of the Quran and appreciate how beautiful and simple the religion can be.

Inspired by the in-depth discussion with Misbah, I started my day with a small meal and 30-minute reflection and prayers before dawn, hoping to start my day on a different foot than usual. The opportunity to start the day in a reflective and serene environment was very uplifting. It allowed me to feel positive, calm, and ready to face the challenges of a busy working day.

I started to feel the effects of not eating and drinking around midday. The lack of fluids was more noticeable for me than the hunger yet, despite the challenge, support from colleagues kept me motivated. By 4pm, concentration waned which highlighted the dedication required of those who do this for the entire month of Ramadan. My fast ended with a delicious Iftar meal, combining my usual dinner with foods traditional to many who celebrate Ramadan, like samosas. 

Misbah explained that the Chorleywood prayer group was created largely because of post-Covid hybrid working culture as many people are more likely to work from home-especially on a Friday. Language accessibility was another motivation to start the group. Khalid Siddiqui who is associated with the Northwood Prayer Group collaborated on the idea to start a group where, unlike others nearby, the Quran is recited in both English and Arabic. This key element, alongside creating a strong clergy of knowledgeable & enthusiastic individuals, created a space where those interested in our district can gain a deeper understanding of Islam. He went on to say that Ramadan is a time of community bonding within the Muslim community and an opportunity to reach out to the wider community.

Misbah left me with the message to share that anyone who is interested and respectful is welcome to join the prayer group. You can contact the prayer group to find out more by emailing:

Personal Reflections:

Fasting was an eye-opening experience, allowing me to appreciate a different way of life. Despite the challenges I found the experience incredibly rewarding and enlightening. I came away with a deeper appreciation of the planning it takes to keep a fast. The fast has been a wake-up call for me to properly hydrate throughout the day to fight against binge eating and uphold other healthy habits.

Another takeaway was an improvement to my determination and knowledge. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone has been shown to be beneficial for your morale, health, and self-esteem. This experience has given me the confidence to apply those benefits to other elements of my life.

Thank you all for reading. Ramadan ended on 9 April and Eid was the day after. Eid Mubarak to all who celebrated.