Remona Aly
Wednesday 16 May 2018 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Mission: Ramadan

Mission: Ramadan
Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Chris Evans Breakfast Show


It’s starting again, Chris. Ramadan has come upon me and I’m about as prepared as a snowman for summer. It’s at this time, right at the start of the fasting month which begins tomorrow, that I ask myself – how am I going to get through this? But every year, Mission Ramadan is one I choose to accept, and embrace with wide arms and empty stomach.

Yes – they are long hours, and yep the question, “What – not even water?” has been asked so many times it’s turned into a hashtag. But it’s also the month my love life is off the Richter scale, as I’m guaranteed 30 gorgeous dates all the way through. And it is love I feel when I take my first bite of the delicious little fruit at sunset, and suddenly those 18 hours of fasting melt away in my mouth in a sweet caress.

Fasting has been a special part of many religions and cultures, from Hinduism and Buddhism to Judaism and Christianity, and for Muslims it is pretty hardcore as we go nil by mouth from dawn to sundown. But it’s more than just about me gasping for a cuppa, trying not to swear, and missing lunch.

It’s not about giving up, but giving more. To myself, to others and to the big G. British Muslims give 100 million in charity in this month alone, they offer extra prayers in the night, and they become better versions of themselves – well that’s the idea anyway.

Although I’m already thinking about Eid, when Ramadan finally does end, I feel a bittersweetness at the parting. It’s like bidding farewell to my closest friend at the door, who smiles at me with pride, kisses my forehead, and disappears into the night for another year.

But I know she will always come back. It’s at this point I think of the poem by the Persian Muslim poet Hafiz, “Where have you taken your sweet song? Come back and play me a tune. I never really cared for the things of this world. It was the glow of your presence that filled it with beauty.”

So, amid the hunger pangs, crazy family gatherings, and mosque marathons, I’m going to hold on to that glow as long as it shines.