The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

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Surah Iqra – the Qu’ran’s first verse to be revealed.

Surah Iqra – the first verse revealed of the Qu’ran

Here is a link to the first verse to be revealed by the angel Jibril to the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in Mecca in 610 CE Рhigh up in a cave on  mountain just outside the city.

I was first told this story of what happened by my mum – she told me about the angel coming to see the Prophet (PBUH) and ordering him to read. The Prophet replied he could not read – he had never learnt. The angel again said read. The Prophet said again he could not. The third time Jibril said “read, in the name of Allah” and the rest of the verse was revealed. I always feel very strongly about the fact that the first instruction given to the man chosen to deliver the message of Islam was associated with education, seeking knowledge and that the use of the pen was mentioned. I am very proud to be a Muslim on many fronts but this area is one of the main reasons.

All those sceptics out there wondering why I am talking about angels and revelations -things that Dawkins & Co will call ‘fairy tales’ – well it boils down to this. Over the last few years a number of debates and discussions have surfaced in association with Islam such as to wear hijab or not, to fast or not, are you an extremist or not, do you support the Muslim brotherhood or not, your thoughts on jihad…blah blah blah. It all kind of deviated from the fundamentals of faith. It reduces down to basic beliefs. And yes I believe in angles, in heaven and hell and most of all I believe in Allah and his Messenger, Muhammed (PBUH).

Another article about Muslim athletes fasting or not during the Olympics.

Another article about Muslims athletes fasting or nor during the Olympics

Here is another article, this time from TIME !!

It’s about female Muslim athletes at the Games and also another look at the Olympics and Ramadhan falling at the same time. I would never have imagined that this subject matter would capture so many imaginations and so much content space.

Ramadhan ER on the Libyan border in Latitude News

Portrait of Libyan doctor during the revolution.


This is a portrait of Dr Emad Abosrewel – the senior doctor and clinical lead who cared for the wounded being evacuated out of Libya last Ramadhan. He arrived after he heard that the border hospital of Tataouine was dangerously under-staffed and that a mass influx of evacuated war wounded were arriving. The work he did was highly commendable but sadly that has yet to be recognised by those in charge today. I witnessed a dedicated, quiet doctor working with very few resources, fighting for better facilities for his patient – whichever side of the battle they were on. He, together with Nader Elhamessi of World for Libya co-ordinated evacuations and arranged ambulances, drivers and volunteers. It was all done during Ramadhan 2011 with a mass surge on Aug 20, when the revolution fighters broke through into Tripoli.


Ramadhan 2011 – Libyan medics caring for the wounded in Tataouine on Latitude News

Ramadhan 2011 – The Libyan Wounded in Tataouine

I wrote this last year when I was on the border between Libya and Tunisia, Tataouine. It was a unique experience. I am finding myself remembering and comparing how different last Ramadhan was out there last year. For one it was almost 50 degrees during the day. It was so hot it was painful. But the main thing was being with some really dedicated, hard working doctors who had turned up to look after the evacuating wounded from Tripoli – with very little support coming from the higher authorities.

I can say that without them, more lives would have been lost.

Saudi Female Athletes At London 2012 Olympics

Saudi Female Athletes At The Olympics

I know this is not new information but I want to mark it and mention it on the blog. I am really pleased to see this – its progress. I am sad however that the judoka will not be permitted to wear a headscarf if she competes. That’s an awful choice to have to make for a woman who covers. It’s going to be important to support the women arriving in London to the Games but I think the IOC thoughts on this ruling could have been wiser if they really did want to open the door for full female participation from conservative Arab States. By this one statement and ruling, there are already probably a number of young women and girls in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who will be prevented from participating in sport in the future-especially at higher levels, where the argument of how it will interfere with their faith will be used.

It goes against every bit of campaigning that was done to get these women here in the first place. I cannot see how wearing a headscarf is going to be unsafe, as decided by the IOC committee. FIFA said that about football and now with persistence and dedication demonstrated by passionate Muslim female football players, and by example, this notion has been kicked into touch. Pun intended.

Will the same happen for all other sports Рwhere we can get rid of this rather daft notion that covering the hair and being modestly dressed is dangerous? I think the only time I would really think wearing a headscarf would be dangerous would be in  an event like competitive flame throwing or something. But I can hardly ever see that being an Olympic sport. Everything else really should be fine. The only actual harm being done is through this decision is to the athlete in terms of the pressure it will put on her to choose, and subsequently face potential criticism or worse on return home and to other future female athletes from conservative Muslim states.

To Fast Or Not To Fast…That Is The Question

To Fast Or Not To Fast…That Is The Question

The UAE team qualify for the Olympics – this article looks into the issue of fasting whilst competing at Olympic level

Calamari from Tripoli


I got sent this image from my friend and colleague from Tripoli, Dr Mostafa Al Jafari who works as a junior surgeon at the Tripoli Central Hospital. He is one of the hardest, most dedicated young surgeons I know-who made some amazingly brave decisions last year in his bid to support the revolution in Tripoli. He is a very inspiring young man indeed. We met on the frontline of the battle for Bani Walid as part of the medical team led by another very inspiring surgeon and clinical lead in the field Dr Mohamed Al Taib.
So this is an image of stuffed calamari – fresh from the Med sea off the coast of Tripoli. It’s an example of what they are having as part of their Iftar ( the meal to break the fast-also translates directly as breakfast).

Huffington Post Images of Ramadhan

Huffington Post Images of Ramadhan

Ramadhan in pictures.

Fasting in Greenland

Fasting in Greenland

I got sent this story link from a great friend Ann Alexander who lives up in Scotland. We met about ten years ago now – can’t believe it’s been that long – when I was still a student. We were both separately working away on stories and circumstances on men being detained without charge under TB’s policy ( remember my previous post I am not referring to tuberculosis but Tony Blair-am not being medical here). I was living at the foot of the Grampian mountains surrounded by cows and sheep in the lovely village of Edzell and Ann was living by the beautiful little coastal town of Montrose. We were only fifteen minutes away from each other. I was doing my bit on my side of the hills and she was doing her’s and it took someone in London who knew us both to connect us!

Anyway Ann is great at spotting stuff on the web and she has sourced this gorgeous story about the Only Muslim In Greenland. He is fasting for 21 hours a day because of the way the summer works over there! Now that is hardcore.


Radio Ramadhan

I love community radio! And Ramadhan Radio belongs to this genre-where for 30 days of the year members of the community come together and get a really dynamic radio station onto air. In Edinburgh, when I lived there-and how I miss it- Radio Ramadhan Edinburgh was a really exciting venture. There was a lot of hard work and passion that went on behind the scenes and the professionalism and dedication was pretty inspiring. If you want to have a snap shot of what they do – check out the website. They try to get a healthy mix of the spiritual, the essentials-like lessons about prayer and the Qu’ran, community and politics. It’s also a fab way to know of what is going on in the community.

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