Ramadan1.jpgTrust staff are marking Ramadan, but this year it's a bit different because of social distancing restrictions as a result of the Coronavirus.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.

It started on April 23 and runs until May 23.

Dr Amal Kona, a consultant paediatrician at the West Cumberland Hospital, will be celebrating Ramadan with her family.

She said: “I’m so excited. Ramadan is my favourite time of year. It’s a time to really feel clean and relaxed and physically you feel better as well. You generally feel more emotional around the time of Ramadan as well.

“I decorate my house and the children love it because it feels special – as if something exciting is about to happen.” Ramadan2.jpg

Before Ramadan Muslims donate some of their salary to the poor so they have something to eat and drink during the festival.

Dr Kona, who is originally from Sudan but grew up in Saudi Arabia, said: “It’s all about how we can be more spiritual, how we can be closer to god and how we can be better people.”

In advance of Ramadan, Dr Kona has been busy preparing food for her family.

She said: “I prepare a lot in advance because when you are fasting you do not have time to cook. I make a lot of things with flour and eggs – a bit like pancakes and we have pastries with meat or cheese. We have soup and dates too.

“As a family we spend a lot of time together.

“”We rise at 4am to pray and we make a proper meal – usually featuring cereal and banana. The children usually go back to sleep for a little while before they go to school.

“We pray together in our homes because there is no Mosque. We sit on the rug and chat too which is nice.

“I usually have my colleagues over to share food and pray but this year we won’t be able to because of the Coronavirus.”

Dr Kona says Muslims are allowed to break the fast if they are ill or if they are sweating and hot and need a drink if they are wearing PPE.

She said: “We must not put ourselves at risk during Ramadan and if you are unwell or dehydrated then you are allowed to break the fast. It’s quite flexible and you have clear permission to stop if you are not feeling too good.

At the end of Ramadan there’s a big three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. 

The NHS Muslim Network and the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) have produced an online guide on how to support staff who may be fasting, including additional considerations during COVID-19.

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