Cultural and creative life

Faith, family and fasting for City ranger during Ramadan

From pre-dawn meals to festive celebrations, Mohammed reflects on charity, prayer and personal growth in the holiest time of the year for Muslims worldwide.

Mohammed Image: City of Sydney / Abril Felman

It's the month of Ramadan for Muslims - their holiest time of the year.

Ramadan is about a lot more than just abstaining from eating or drinking. It’s a time for Muslims to reassess their spirituality, reflect on their blessings and work on becoming better versions of themselves.

City of Sydney ranger Mohammed has worked with us for 11 years. He shares what a typical day during Ramadan looks like, the City of Sydney’s support for those fasting, and how he celebrates Eid-al-Fitr, an occasion marking the end of Ramadan – kind of like the Muslim equivalent to Christmas.

Tell us what Ramadan is about in your own words

It’s a month in the Islamic lunar calendar where we fast for 29 or 30 days. But it’s also a month of charity, where we’re encouraged to give to the poor, read the Koran and pray.

Share what a typical day during Ramadan looks like for you

We wake up before sunrise, which at the moment is about 5:30am. We have the first meal of the day, called sahoor. You can eat whatever you want for this first meal. I usually have oats and coffee!

At sunrise, the first call to prayer happens. It’s the first of 5 prayers for the day. That’s when we stop eating and drinking until sunset, about 7:15pm.

Our evening meal is called iftar. We can break our fast as soon as the sun goes down, and again we can eat what we like.

There are lots of family gatherings during this month, where we visit each other in the evenings to eat.

Tell us how the City of Sydney supports you during Ramadan

There’s flexibility with day and night shift swaps or time off so I can be with family in the evenings and pray at night.

If there are business unit events or courses where there would normally be food, these are moved outside of fasting times for us. My team moves meetings around prayer times.

I’ve worked at other places and compared to them the City of Sydney really makes you comfortable during this time. Our manager has done a good job making sure we’re comfortable. But I don’t think the fasting generally gets in the way of our work.

Is it important your colleagues understand what Ramadan means?

Most people understand that we can’t eat during the day, and sometimes they can feel uncomfortable. But I’ve been celebrating Ramadan since I was 10, and I honestly don’t mind. The fasting doesn’t affect our ability to work, we’re used to it and it gives us purpose during the month.

Some people ask how I can fast the whole month during the day – and even for me, in the lead up to Ramadan I often ask myself, how am I going to do this? But after the first couple of days it gets easier. Actually, for me - not having coffee is the worst thing! I have to get past the withdrawal headaches.

Ramadan ends with Eid-al-Fitr. How will you celebrate?

It goes for 3 days, but the first of those days is the most important, so having that day off is essential. My kids have already made a list of presents they want. I always go to my mother’s house in the morning with my siblings – there’s 19 grandkids, so it’s a big deal! Then we all go to our in-laws.

Published 18 March 2024