Meet Jahin, Hawa, Kbora and Jumana
As UNICEF Young Ambassadors past and present, these incredible young people have come together this Ramadan for a bigger purpose.
Find out why this holy month of Ramadan is such an important time to give, reflect and to come together as a community, no matter who you are or what your beliefs.
But first, what is Ramadan?
Hawa: Ramadan marks the holiest time of the year for Muslims all around the globe, with millions of people coming together to fast (abstaining from food, water, and other activities during daylight hours) to practice spiritual reflection for 29-30 days.
Jumana: To a person that does not belong to the Islamic faith, this concept of fasting can seem bizarre – what can be so appealing about refraining from food and drink from dusk to dawn?
The true essence of Ramadan is centered around personal reflection, selflessness, and care for the community. Muslims observing Ramadan are encouraged to have a simple ‘iftar’ (the meal to break your fast). Whatever your lifestyle may have been prior to the holy month, Ramadan provides the opportunity for you to turn away from mindless consumerism and shift towards living in a meaningful, reflective, and sustainable manner.
Hawa: Ramadan is about mirroring respectful behaviors, showing generosity, being patient with your loved ones and those around you, and ensuring everyone around you feels welcomed and included.
Jumana: For many, the holy month is completed alongside families and communities. Individuals are encouraged to look beyond themselves and their own needs, to give from their own wealth, time, and prayers to benefit all communities, regardless of their faith.
Why is Ramadan an important time to give?
Kbora: We in Australia and across the world have faced many challenges, be it the pandemic, natural disasters, and the many unpredicted world crisis. I hope this year; each day of Ramadan serves us to be kinder, to give more, to reflect and respect others and most importantly do our little part in making this world a better place in every month of the year.
"This month reminds us to be mindful and grateful for what we have and ensure that we give more and be more generous to others."
Jahin: I look forward to this holy month more than any other time of the year. Part of why we don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset as a reminder for ourselves that there are communities in the world who are in need, and don’t have access to essential food or water, like we do. This month reminds us to be mindful and grateful for what we have and ensure that we give more and be more generous to others.
What are some of your favourite memories of Ramadan?
Jahin: My favourite memory during Ramadan always revolves around family and community. Waking up together before sunrise, seeing my younger brother’s groggy face while he munches on cereal (he is not a morning person!), and the solitude and peace that emanates through the house – it truly is an ethereal experience.
I live interstate now for university, and so I don’t see family as often as before, but with the emergence of technology, speaking to one another and having that peaceful reunion over video is unparalleled.
Kbora: Some of my best memories of Ramadan are during high school. I went to a Catholic school in Adelaide where the significance of this month was shared by every student, teachers and the principal regardless of our religion.
Our school allowed the Muslims students time and space for prayers whilst extending invite to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr (feast of fast-breaking) to all students and teachers. The freedom to practice our religion so openly seeded respect, love, understanding and peace amongst the wider school community which is what Ramadan truly instills in us, every year.
Is Ramadan just a time of year for Muslims or can everyone take part?
Hawa: Ramadan may be a religious observance for the Muslim community, but it is so much more than just that. Many of the teachings of Ramadan align with the values of our non-Muslim friends: caring for family and friends, spreading love, being kind, being patient, taking active steps to learn and develop. Most of all Ramadan is a time where we lend a helping hand to those in need.
Kbora: One great delight for me is seeing grocery shops allocating a section for Ramadan; catering some common foods consumed such as medjool dates (a food used to gently break a fast at sundown). I see this a token of respect by the wider Australian community and symbol of inclusiveness.
Hawa: One of my favorite parts of Ramadan is the fact that everyone comes together to pray for humanity and the challenges faced in different countries; to pray for those in conflict. We also come together to reflect on our own actions, to give generously and to be kind to others so that we can all live in safer world.
"Most of all Ramadan is a time where we lend a helping hand to those in need."
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