Ahtesham gives the low-down on Ramadan

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Asalam Alaykum and Ramadan Mubarak!

Confused about what those words above say and mean? Don’t worry, De Montfort Students' Union (DSU)'s VP Student Activities (and President-elect) Ahtesham Mahmood has you covered with his guide to Ramadan.

“Asalam Alaykum translates to ‘peace be unto you’ and Ramadan Mubarak means ‘have a blessed Ramadan’," he explained.

“The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started for many last Friday 26 May and continues until the evening of Saturday 24 June for most. A majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims will be observing this tradition, including the many Muslim students right here on the De Montfort University (DMU) campus.”

DMU Imam, Mohammed Laher, added: “During Ramadan, observing Muslims fast (physical component) from dawn to sunset and offer more prayer for the sake of God and to learn self-discipline, patience and humility (Spiritual aspect).

“Fasting (Sawm) is the third of the five pillars of Islam, and is observed upon reaching maturity whilst being healthy, sane and having no disabilities or illnesses, though children may desire to fast.

“Those not able to fast give charity to compensate. The fast is traditionally opened by taking dates and water.”


Ahtesham explained that he wants as many people as possible to know the true meaning behind the holy month of Ramadan.

But what is it really like celebrating Ramadan? Ahtesham explained what this religious month is like for him.

“During Ramadan, Muslims who are observing will wake up well before sunrise and often try to 'inhale' as much as food they can (most are more civilised than myself!) so that they can last the long 19 hours of hunger pangs until the sun sets and the evening prayer allows you to scream 'let us feast'!

“However, as Ramadan moves, it comes earlier every year by 11 days due to being based on the Lunar calendar and the ninth Islamic month changes season. So while I remember my early teens observing Ramadan in the winter with a nice cool temperature and shorter hours, my brother will remember his not so fondly.

“Nonetheless, although these days can be tough without water or food passing our lips, it is a month that I personally long for and I’m always sad to see leave. Because, to me, Ramadan is not just about keeping your mouth closed with the hopes of coming out of the month being able to slide into these skinny jeans, but one when you take care of all of your actions.

“During this holy month, it is not only being conscious about not eating, but being conscious about shielding your soul from everyday occurrences which may have become just too normalised. It is believed that your whole body is fasting and not just your stomach, therefore using your mouth to make sly comments or gossiping about someone, listening to ill music, using your hands to bully someone and so forth will all hurt your fast with some believing it to break your fast.

“Therefore, during this month you truly become aware of your surroundings and do feel that bit more spiritual.”


Our Islamic Society raised almost £17,000 for charity during Charity Week 2016. Read more here.

That's Ahtesham's Ramadan, but what about yours? We asked students on campus what Ramadan means to them...

What does Ramadan mean to you?

  • AA – “To increase our Taqwa (consciousness), to make us more charitable, and to strengthen our knowledge of the Holy Qur'an. To be thankful for the god for having food and drink and to remember we have brother and sisters who don't have food.”
  • SC – “Getting closer to God and gratitude.”
  • MI – “Ramadan is a month of spirituality where Muslims devote their time to worshiping God more in this month. This month is most important for those boosting their spirituality and cutting out any bad habits or desires that they’ve been wanting to combat for a while. It’s also a month where charity is meritorious in reward.”
  • MK – “Ramadan for me is a time to get closer to Allah and to remember those who are less fortunate than us.”
  • FM – “To me, Ramadan means happiness (partly because I can eat non-stop from dusk to dawn with no guilt), but more so because of the universal love and positivity that Muslims share worldwide. There’s a lot of giving (not just at Eid!), and blessings, and it really brings out the best in everyone. Ramadan is also an excellent time to recharge your spirituality, and practice the wholesome values and morals that Islam as a religion preaches, and I absolutely love that.”

What is your favourite food to eat when opening your fast?

  • AA – “Samosa and chicken soup.”
  • SC – “Palestinian dates.”
  • MI – “I like to break my fast with dates and water, then following up with soup and a light meal.”
  • MK – “My favourite food on the iftar table are watermelons.”
  • FM – “Favourite food? Why isn’t it foods?! Honestly, after living away from home for so long, anything my mom makes!”

What’s your favourite part of Ramadan?

  • AA – “The time we pray tarawih (special night prayer).”
  • SC – “That’s a really hard one! I think the community coming together, how giving people are and seeing how everyone's striving to be the best versions of themselves. On an individual level being more mindful and reflective of my actions. Lastly, taraweeh (night prayers) has a particular sweet, light and refreshing feeling that I love.”
  • MI – “My favourite part of Ramadan is the coming together of Muslims, but also the respect given by Muslims to others in the community.”
  • MK – “The best part of Ramadan is the atmosphere and the feeling of unity.”
  • FM – “My favourite part is the late nights where you socialise, eat (non-stop!), and pray with loved ones all around you.


Ahtesham, pictured here with incoming International Students' Representative Usaid Nagaria, was elected as the next President of DSU in our biggest Elections EVER earlier this year. Read more here.

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