One year on since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, Muslims around the world are marking another Ramadan quietly.
Find out how ActionAid's Tanbina Choudhury is practising her faith during this holy month and how those who observe Ramadan can get involved in charitable acts and build unity with those in need.
As Covid-19 rages across the globe, Ramadan 2021 will again be very different and a difficult time for Muslims everywhere.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll in every country and hasn't left any corner of the world untouched. And though lockdown is easing here in the UK, the crisis is reaching new heights in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal and others.
The second and third waves of the pandemic and new strains of the virus are aggravating already fragile infrastructures and intensifying existing inequalities, climate change impacts, conflict and food and water shortages for vulnerable communities.
As we spend another Ramadan through a global pandemic, I am taking a moment to reflect on what this special month means to me and others.
What is Ramadan and what it means to me
Ramadan is one of the five pillars in Islam where Muslims fast as an act of worship, to be closer to Allah and focus on compassion, empathy, charity and breaking away from bad habits.
Though customs may vary for the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, the reasons why we fast still remain the same for all Muslims.
Many familiar faces will no longer be with us there, standing shoulder to shoulder in prayer."
It is the month where we often take time to reflect – reconnecting with God, something which I often find myself doing as I often get occupied with work and life.
It is a special time that allows me to focus on my religion, family and community. But sadly, like last year, with Covid-19 restrictions in place, Ramadan will be different for me and many others this year as well.
Though the mosques are open in the UK, it will be an emotional time for those attending the special Tarawih prayers as many familiar faces will no longer be with us there, standing shoulder to shoulder in prayer.
Familiar faces, relatives, neighbours and members of the community will not be around to welcome us at the doors or be sat beside us breaking the fast. This is why I will be remembering them through prayer and charity.
How I will make this Ramadan special
During this holy month, we also focus on helping the poor, hungry and those around us – we often find ourselves reaching out to those needing our help.
This kind of voluntary charity is called Sadaqah and it will help ease the hardships of those in need and help them rebuild their lives."
Isolation, and being apart from loved ones has affected so many people during the pandemic. So, this Ramadan I have made it a priority to reach out to those that I haven’t seen or spoken to over the past sixteen months. I am making and dropping care packages for them or I will be making a donation in their name in the coming weeks.
This kind of voluntary charity is called Sadaqah and it will help ease the hardships of those in need and help them rebuild their lives during Ramadan and beyond. It is different to Zakat which is a compulsory form of charity in Islam. Sadaqah Jariyah is an optional and additional form of giving that reaps bigger and continuous rewards for the giver now and in the Hereafter.
I often choose ActionAid to give my Sadaqah charity through as ActionAid already works with those living in poverty and vulnerable communities and has been doing so for years.
We provide not only humanitarian aid in emergencies but we also stay behind and work together with the communities to provide long-term, sustainable solutions. We give people the means to support themselves and become self-sufficient through our programmes in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Think of those who are struggling to mark Ramadan without the basics of food, water and other things that they need to survive."
My role to develop partnerships and help raise funds from the Gulf States, for example, helps ensure that as an organisation we continue to support those most in need.
Witnessing the incredible programmes and deployment of aid and support first-hand, throughout the years motivates me to work for ActionAid. I feel blessed to have colleagues on the ground who are passionate, innovative and supportive in the work that they do.
But beyond that, it also fills me with conviction that by giving to ActionAid during this special month, I know my donations will go a long way and reach those that need it most.
During this holy month of Ramadan, as we break bread with our families and communities, I urge you to think of those who are struggling to mark Ramadan without the basics of food, water and other things that they need to survive. If you are yet to make your Sadaqah contribution this Ramadan, please consider donating to ActionAid's Ramadan appeal.
How you can help
Start your Sadaqah Jariyah this Ramadan and help us provide year-round support to families and children in crisis.
The UK Government will match up to three of your monthly gifts pound for pound ensuring your generosity can go twice as far.
Together we can provide life-saving aid and sustainable support to those who need it most.