About the interviewee
Salam All! We are Juber and Tahira of muslimsgotravel.com. We’re from Bradford in England and love to travel around the world and write about our experiences on our site to inspire and inform others.
1. Tell us a little bit about how Muslims in the UK prepare for Ramadan? Is there anything they do specifically before the first day of Ramadan?
There are quite a few things that we do in preparation for Ramadhan. Firstly, there’s a great amount of effort from our local religious ministers and scholars to educate and prepare us mentally and spiritually before Ramadhan commences. This usually happens a month or a few weeks before Ramadhan begins. We also have many people going out to shop to stock up for the two main Ramadhan meals i.e. Futoor and Suhur. This can cause a huge amount of traffic and the environment in Muslim populated areas can get very lively. It’s actually quite vibrant and nice but can get slightly overwhelming at times. Lastly, one of the main things we’ve observed is how many Muslim households prepare certain types of food from beforehand and freeze it. This can be toilsome work and so they prefer to get it out of the way before Ramadhan begins.
2. How would you describe the overall Ramadan spirit in the UK? Does it have a different feeling on the streets when you go out in Ramadan?
I would say that this varies from place to place in the UK. In certain areas such as East London, the atmosphere is very vibrant and there’s a lot more action in Ramadhan. However, up north in Yorkshire, it’s not the same case. Whilst the scent of delicious food can be smelt when outside, there’s not much going on to say that it’s Ramadhan. This does seem to change after Futoor though, with many people making their way to the Taraweeh prayers. It’s actually a nice feeling to see people walking to and from the Masajid dressed their best. The other thing that happens around the UK is that people tend to share out food amongst their neighbors and relatives. Whether you’re Muslim or non-Muslim, food is always shared with others this month. That is probably one of the best things that happens which brings the spirit of Ramadhan to a high level.
3. How does a typical iftar would look like?
The UK is a multicultural place for Muslims and so, therefore, it can vary from house to house. However, coming from an Asian background, we’ll fill you in on what we have typically for Futoor. We tend to break our fast as the vast majority do with dates and water or milk. We then follow this by praying our Maghrib Salah and then begin with some starters such as pakoras, samosas and the all-time favorite, kebabs. This is typically followed by a main course such as curries, rice dishes, or grilled food. This is then followed by a sweet dish or fruit. Main meals include dishes such as meat, lentils, and vegetable curries which tend to be soupier to fulfill the purpose of being more hydrated throughout the evening.
4. How does a typical suhur (suhoor) would look like?
This is actually one of our favorites as we enjoy a good old breakfast. We tend to have things like fruit, flatbread with double cream, yogurt, cereal, eggs, toast, and sometimes a homemade smoothie. There are some people from the Asian background who tend to enjoy an Asian suhoor by having things such as chickpeas with chapatti or parathas etc.
5. Is there any food or drink that is specifically consumed in Ramadan? Yes, please tell us about the deserts.
There are actually a number of things which we see more of in Ramadhan. One of the obvious ones includes dates. I know its obvious, but we don’t usually buy or consume dates throughout the year. It’s not that common. It’s actually one of the best foods to have for energy which we tend to forget about throughout the year. The other thing we tend to see more of in Ramadhan is a drink called Falouda. Whilst it may have origins in Iran, it’s very common amongst South Asian households. It’s a dessert type drink which consists of mixing rose syrup with milk, basil seeds and vermicelli. We love having it with ice-cream – it’s absolutely delicious, refreshing and gives us enough energy to charge through the day!
6. How do people celebrate Eid al-Fitr?
Fortunately, in Bradford which is located in West Yorkshire, we have funfairs, charity events and special Eid events in local parks for the celebration. However, it’s not as rampant as is the case in many Muslim countries. We tend to visit one another’s houses and make a special effort to visit those we seldom visit throughout the year. For those of us who are unable to visit far relatives, we usually call and greet them and wish them a happy Eid. Some families tend to use the evening or the next day to do something special with their immediate family such as visiting a theme park or dining out in a fancy restaurant.
7. What makes your country special in Ramadan? Tell us about any activities, festivals, bazaars, etc..
One unique thing about some places around the UK is that the night before Eid, many Asian shopping plazas and centers stay open till late. Activities include the applying of mehndi (henna), fundraising, late-night shopping, and food stalls etc. Another thing that makes the UK special during Ramadhan is the many events held in many Mosques around the country. Many are fortunate to have famous scholars visit from around the world to deliver inspirational talks. Alongside this, there’s a lot of emphases and effort to fundraise for various projects such as charity, Masjid constructions, and Madrasa establishments etc.
8. What should travelers expect to experience if they visit your country in Ramadan?
On a typical day in Ramadhan, visitors will see a stream of Muslims, which includes children and women attending the Masjid or religious gatherings several times a day. After the Taraweeh prayers, visitors will witness many people staying back in the Mosque to continue praying and recite the Qur’an. Another thing visitors will experience, is the amazing smell of various cuisines whilst on the streets of certain cities in the UK. Cooking for the Iftar usually begins several hours prior to Futur and it is 1 or 2 hours before this that the streets are filled with the smells of amazingly cooked food!
9. If I was visiting your country in Ramadan, where would be the best place to have iftar?
This is a tough one to answer as there are many places to recommend throughout the country. However, I would highly recommend that one visits a densely populated Asian/Arab/Muslim area for the best food. Examples of cities/towns include London, Bradford, Birmingham, and Manchester.
10. Anything else you want to share about Ramadan in your country?
Ramadhan in the UK may not be like Ramadhan in a Muslim country, however, it’s highly refreshing and breath-taking to see the change in this month. People are more generous, more kind, attend the Masjid more and share food generously with one another. It’s a time when families come together, the Qur’an is recited more, and patience is practiced more throughout the day. Plus, we get the chance to have certain foods that we don’t get the chance to have throughout the year!
RAMADAN 2020 PROJECT: Fellow sisters and brothers around the world joined Halal Travel Experts to spread the joy and knowledge of Ramadan. To become a part of this exciting project, email us at email@example.com. It is just 10 simple questions but the answers go beyond the oceans.