Ramadan (this year April 12 until May 12) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It’s a time for Muslims to reflect on how they live their daily lives.
Muslims fast on average for 16 hours a day, from sunrise to sunset, during Ramadan as they re-connect with their god.
It’s also a time of celebration of love and harmony within the community, celebrating when the Quran book was revealed to the prophet Mohammad.
To mark the end of Ramadan, depending on the new moon, Muslims celebrate Eid, when they exchange gifts and big meals to mark the end of Ramadan.
Hassan Patel of the Isle of Man Islamic Association said that he and his family have donated £200 to the Breast Cancer Unit at Noble’s Hospital, after they put money in a pot at home that would usually be used to go to a coffee shop or elsewhere.
’Last year, it was difficult because we were still in lockdown,’ said Hassan.
’A lot of Muslims here work as doctors or in offices and some of them could be bachelors, who have just arrived to work here with no family [to see].
’It’s difficult for them as normally when we do open the fast, someone sponsors the fast and brings them food, so that they can eat in the mosque or Scouts Hall, which happened last year.
’We were the only place in the whole of Britain to have Eid prayers during lockdown last year. We had groups of 10 people coming in every 15 minutes at the Blackberry Lane, Onchan Football Club pitch. This year, we’re back to normal services.’
Hassan said that due to no New Moon sightings in Saudi Arabia this year, Eid was celebrated last Thursday.
’Eid is like our form of Christmas, to mark the end of Ramadan. We put ourselves in someone else’s position for 30 days [with no food], from sunrise to sunset, it’s teaching us a lot in that time about what people are going through in Palestine and other countries where they may not have food or clean water,’ he said. ’Our children can take it for granted, brushing teeth and having a clean bath. The Quran teaches us to give one month of eating up for charity.
’Mentally and physically, you get to know yourself and any money that we would normally use for Costa Coffee or Tea Junction, we would put it into a little pot and we donated this to the Breast Cancer Unit.’
Hassan said that there is a small mosque which Muslims use for prayer in an extended garage near Harris Promenade in Douglas, but the Islamic Association is currently awaiting planning permission to renovate a building on Finch Road in Douglas into a dedicated mosque.
He said: ’We are in the process of doing the conveyancing on that and hopefully some time next year, we will have a new, big premises which the general public will be able to come in to as there will be a library as well.
’At the moment, we also use the Onchan Community Centre Hub to do our prayers every evening.’
Hassan said that halal meat can be bought from Robinson’s or local butchers. He also said how there was hopefully going to be a multi-faith prayer room within Ballakermeen High School in Douglas at some point later this year - which it’s believed would be the first of its kind in a school in the island.
’The new mosque would be a big thing for the Isle of Man, for Muslims to study and bring their families here.
’At the moment, there’s nothing for them here, except the five-time prayers that we do. There’s no Islamic studies or classes for them to take part in,’ he said.
’At the Finch Road building, there would be four or five levels so that women can do things with their children and men can teach their children too. Lots of Muslim children are born in the Isle of Man now.’
Hassan continued: ’I think there’s about 200 Muslims in the island who are part of the Islamic Association. Most of them are doctors and surgeons and because of their workload, it was very difficult last year for them to be able to attend our prayers.’
He said that the fact that a Manxman, Abdullah Quilliam, created the first mosque in Britain is something which he and many other Muslims are very proud of.
’Unfortunately, people in the UK have been using Abdullah Quilliam’s name to create fake societies - one of them which accepted donations from people then stole it all and closed down.
’Abdullah Quilliam himself was a lawyer, a lecturer and a very wealthy man in the Isle of Man, who then moved to Liverpool and set-up the first mosque there.
’He owned a lot of properties and was a very wealthy man, but nobody knows where all of his wealth is now. People are using his name in order to scam people, launching fake charities. So, in the UK people tend to ignore his name, which is a big shame.’
Hassan believes there is now a relative of Abdullah Quilliam in Canada who is trying to discover their roots, which he is researching to check that they are definitely related.
He said: ’If there was a new mosque built here, we were originally going to name it in his honour, but because of all of the scams, I decided not to in case people thought we were scammers.
’It would be nice to bring his legacy back home again.’
Hassan and his family, along with other Muslims across the world, will celebrate Eid today with the word ’Eid’ meaning festival or feast. It literally depicts the event that is being celebrated.
Muslims celebrate two types of Eid every year following two major acts of worship. The first is called ’Eid Al-Fitr’ which means ’the fast-breaking festival’ celebrated after fasting the entire month of Ramadan.
The second, known as ’Eid-ul-Adha,’ means ’the festival of sacrifice’ and is celebrated immediately upon the completion of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
For every Muslim, Eid is a time of celebration, laughter, togetherness, abundance and sharing. It is always a time to look forward to.
Hassan said Manx Muslims thankfully don’t experience prejudice or racism here in the island.
’People here always ask me how I am and how Ramadan is going. People seem happy to learn about our traditions and we do [Ramadan] for a good purpose, for charity, for yourself, a detox. People here are very supportive.’
l The Islamic Association can be contacted via its website www.iaiom.com/