Kamil MahmoodPoet. Artist. Activist.
Kamil Mahmood is a Poet, Spoken Word and Visual Artist born and raised in Birmingham His work explores identity, community, Islam, the British Pakistani Diaspora, masculinity and international activism. He combines contemporary commentary with narratives of the often overlooked and unheard, championing words as tools for change. His debut collection Mute Men (Verve Poetry Press, 2019) articulates Kamil’s musings born on late bus journeys and silent morning car trips with his Dad. When Kamil isn’t writing, he is busy with his day job as a dentist.
Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khanwriter/spoken-word poet/speaker/educator
Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is a writer, spoken-word poet, speaker, and educator invested in unlearning the modalities of knowledge she has internalised, disrupting power relations, and interrogating narratives around race/ism, gender(ed oppression), Islamophobia, state violence, knowledge production and (de)coloniality. Her debut poetry collection called Postcolonial Banter (Verve Poetry Press, 2019) “features some of her most well-known and widely performed poems as well as some never-seen-before material. Her words are a disruption of comfort, a call to action, a redistribution of knowledge and an outpouring of dissent.”
Join us for a pre iftar reflection on what it means to be fasting during another year of lockdown. You don’t need to be observing Ramadan or fasting to join in.
Poets Suhaiymah Manzoor Khan and Kamil Mahmood join us again this year to share their reflections on Ramadan under another lockdown. Taz Parvez from The Active Wellbeing Society will share reflections on fasting and maintaining active lives and Birmingham artist and founder of Soul City Arts Mohammed Ali will be sharing poignant words of comfort after losing his mother to Covid earlier this year as well as his experience of Ramadan without one of the most important people in his life.
For millions of Muslims across the globe, Ramadan will again this year be one under a lockdown of sorts. For some Muslims, like the Uighurs in China, the Rohingya in Burma/Bangladesh or the Muslim Kashmiris in Indian controlled Jammu & Kashmir, lockdown is nothing new but for the majority of the Muslim world fasting in the pandemic, this is fasting not as we’re accustomed to.
Ramadan is an integral part of a Muslim’s life, it makes up one of the 5 tenets of Islam and is undoubtedly the holiest month of the year. Ramadan is set by the lunar calendar (hence why the start date changes each year) and in the UK, fasts this year are roughly 16 hours long, in which time Muslims (health permitted) don’t eat or drink (no, not even water!) from sunrise until sunset.
Ramadan is about reflection, prayer, patience, charity, compassion, community and sharing.
The sharing of food is a key part of fasting and Muslims typically open their fasts with family, friends and with the wider community. This year, once again we are seeing Muslims close and open fasts in their homes. Our homes continue to develop their own evolving personalities and continue to be spaces for learning, working, exercising, as well as reflection and prayer more so during the month of Ramadan. Mosques may have partially opened their doors but homes are still the focus for prayer and reflection during this month.
The spirit of community iftars (opening of fasts) and the reading of taraweeh (extended evening prayers) are a large part of Ramadan and many people will see this as a huge loss and gaping hole in this blessed month. We are however, still fortunate and are thankful to have food, shelter and for a large percentage of the population, our health compared to many. The pandemic may have altered the rhythm of Ramadan again, but it certainly hasn’t changed the essence of what Ramadan is about.
“The best of you are those who benefit mankind.”
– Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)
A key part of Ramadan is about charity, giving, for sharing and for reflecting and for being thankful.
We would love for you to do something for your community/neighbourhood. This doesn’t have to be a financial act. It’s great if you can donate to a local cause, but in the words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Your smile for your brother is a charity. Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is a charity. Your guidance of a person who is lost is a charity.”
Charity can take many forms, this could simply mean you get round to calling that member of your family or friend that you have been thinking about for ages, it could mean checking up on your neighbours, an elderly member of your community. Or donating your skills/time, you shopping locally, even observing social distancing at this time can be seen as an act of charity!
If you are in a fortunate position to be able to donate, there are many great projects happening across the city that could do with your help: