Demanding jobs, inflexible timetables and tight deadlines — young Muslims are battling all this and more to sustain the Ramzan spirit.
Most young corporate execs agree that finding the right balance between profession and religion is a challenge. But not an insurmountable one.
“Islam itself instructs its followers to maintain a balance between the material and the spiritual world,” says Ashfaque Ismail (27), a media executive.
“Life goes on as usual; only the time-frame is different. It is only from dawn to dusk when abstinence is practised.”
Says Yasar Rehman (23), a BPO professional, “One has to make adjustments in a professional environment, especially in my kind of work. Though my company allows flexible shifts, my work profile is such that I'm usually at work either during sehri (traditional breakfast before dawn) or iftaar (final meal before dusk). So I have no choice but to read my namaaz at office."
Imran Thakur, 24, assistant manager at a store in South-Delhi Mall agrees, "It’s difficult, but not impossible. Since I work from noon to 10 at night, I carry the khajoor (dates) that I need to eat before breaking my fast."
“I break my fast at office before having a little meal. Then, I go home and offer the Qazah namaaz (late prayer) before cooking dinner and the breakfast for next day’s sehri,” he says.
Work or academic pressure may be a barrier; but many believe it's also a blessing in disguise, “You get used to fasting while studying after a few days,” says Zoaib Shabeer (21), an IAS-aspirant.
“Once I wake up for sehri, I remain active throughout the morning. Since I'm an early riser, I’m able to devote more time for my subjects,” he says.
Moosa Khan (23) is a soccer fanatic. “I just love Chelsea and have watched all their matches on television including the late night live telecasts," he says.
However, come the holy month of Ramzan, and all that changes. "I make it a point to come home as early as possible from work, pray and break the fast with my family," he says. "After dinner, I try to sleep early to wake up in time for sehri."
For him and his family, Ramzan is a month-long celebration of togetherness and not just a festival. "I guess my family and I see more of each other during Ramzan than any other time of the year."
Saba Shafi (22), pursuing her MBA from IP University, is one of the best speakers in her class.
“I’ve always been active in public speaking. Debating is my passion and class presentations are what I look forward to,” she says.
Usually an aggressive debater, Saba’s teacher was disappointed by her last presentation. “She told me it was mellow compared with the previous ones,” she says.
“I was keeping a roza. After back to back classes throughout the day, I was exhausted and thirsty even before the early evening presentation."
Fasting since she was a child, Saba believes one just needs to get into the routine, "It's just that the presentation was on the second day of Ramzan, while I was still getting used to the routine."
“Had it been after the initial four days, I would have been more like myself during the presentation," she says.
Though it's difficult, Saba views Ramzan as a month of discipline.
“I think it's the only month when learns to control one’s passions and detoxify one’s system,” she says.