‘It makes them better human beings’: Faith leader explains why and how Ramadan is observed

PUBLISHED: 11:00 09 May 2018

Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the League of British Muslims, addresses the crowd. Photo: Aaron Walawalkar

Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the League of British Muslims, addresses the crowd. Photo: Aaron Walawalkar


Muslims across the borough will begin observing the holy month of Ramadan with prayer and fasting next week.

It was during this month that the Islamic holy text, the Qu’ran, is said to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah.

The Recorder spoke with Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the league of British Muslims, based in Eton Road, Ilford to find out more about Ramadan.

As one of the five pillars of Islam, observance of Ramadan is “very important,” according to Mr Chaudhry.

“Without following all the rituals you can’t be a Muslim,” he said.

Central to Ramadan is Sawm - fasting from dusk until dawn - which includes abstention from eating, drinking, smoking, sex and swearing.

Aimed at self-improvement, Mr Chaudhry added: “[Fasting] puts a decision in our lives.

“You think ‘I can’t swear, I can’t eat food,’ and so it discourages people from doing bad things.

“It makes them better human beings.”

After sunset every night, between 50 to 60 residents will also gather at Eton Road community centre to break their fast together in a meal known as Iftar.

Fruit is traditionally the first thing most people eat as it is believed the prophet Muhammad broke fast with three dates.

Those who are elderly, ill, pregnant or suffering from diabetes are not required to fast, Mr Chaudhry explained.

They instead have an obligation to help others, as Ramadan is also a time of empathy for those less fortunate.

He said: “God the creator encourages you to give more to charity, to open the fast to other family members and discourages any animosity.”

Muslims also engage more frequently in prayer throughout Ramadan, reciting additional taraweeh prayers in the evenings.

Throughout Ramadan, 600 to 700 worshippers will gather nightly at the Eton Road community centre every night.

Based on the lunar calendar, the start of Ramadan varies each year and is determined by the sighting of the new moon, Mr Chaudhry explained.

This year it is set to start on Tuesday (May 15) and finish on June 14 with in the celebration of Eid al-Fitr - the festival of breaking the fast.

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