Ramadan is close at hand and the Muslim community in the island is preparing to take part.
It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered one of the holiest months.
The time of Ramadan is calculated by the lunar cycle, and this year’s festival will start on or around this Thursday, March 23.
In Ramadan, Muslims commemorate the beginning of the revelation of the Qur’an to the prophet Muhammad.
During this period, they fast from food and drink during daylight hours as a means of drawing closer to Allah (God).
Dr Tofal Ahmad Awan, a diabetes specialist at Noble’s Hospital and practising Muslim, said: ‘During Ramadan, we abstain from the things that are allowed, such as eating and drinking, to give us the strength to abstain from those things that are forbidden the rest of the year.
‘It also has a benefit health, as a sort of detox. If you ask anyone to fast for 16 hours, it cleans your kidneys, your liver and your vessels.
‘It makes you agile and alert, at the start you will have one day of headaches due to dehydration, that’s it.’
The Isle of Man Islamic Association will have its centre, in Finch Road, Douglas, open for the entirety of the festival.
There can be up to 180 people who attend the daily prayers in the Mosque during Ramadan.
The fasting of Ramadan is broken after sunset, this is call an ‘Iftar’, which literally translates as ‘breaking the fast’.
Iftar is usually held at homes however, the Islamic Association will be holding Iftar at the centre on some days.
Fasting is just one part of Ramadan that Muslims take part in, there is also a focus on charity with dignity, helping your fellow man, and deepening your understanding of the Qur’an.
Hassan Patel, manager of the Onchan post office and practising Muslim, said: ‘If we’re really going to do charity we really should be making boxes of tinned food because they don’t go out of date. We could go out to houses and distribute them.’
The Islamic Association is hoping to spread goodwill throughout the local community.
cost of living
Dr Awan said: ‘This year, because of the cost of living crisis, I have started floating an idea. I held a meeting with some of my team in work.
‘The minimum we can do is keep the dignity of the person who is in need and helping them.
‘I asked the Manx people that I know “Who is in trouble?”
‘There are pensioners who cannot afford their electricity and gas bills.
‘I proposed that if some of those in trouble give us their utility bills anonymously, and somebody will pay the bill to the company on their behalf.’
‘The Qur’an teaches us that if our act of charity hurts others, it’s better not to give charity at all.’
The reading of the Qur’an is also a big part of Ramadan, with a chapter being read every night at the services.
Muslims are also encouraged to read more of the Qur’an on their own during this period.
Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid, which is its culmination and will be held on the evening of Friday, April 21, this year.
Children traditionally perform a shortened version of the fasting, such as half day fasts or weekends only, until they reach adolescence and are then introduced to the full Ramadan schedule.
Due to ‘changing attitudes’ in young Muslims, Mr Patel told me that some of the older children in the community have been shying away from the fast.
However, it has recently become more popular amongst young Muslims.
Mr Patel told the Examiner that Muslim professional footballers, such as Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah observing the fast during matches, have influenced young Muslims.
Daily fasting times can be found on the IslamicFinder app or website, as times change daily depending on the sunrise and sunset times.
The centre has said that its library will be open to non-Muslims on the second Sunday of every month to learn more about the faith and to better understand the community.