This speech was written by Semra Candemir, who as a representative of her school and the Muslim community, presented it to some of Perth's most well known politicians at Parliament House during the month of Ramadhan. Seventeen year old Semra is a talented young writer and speaker and is currently completing her Year 12 studies.
What Ramadan means to me…
Growing up in a culturally Islamic family, Ramadan is something we did once a year for the duration of one month. I had no idea why we fasted, for what purpose or meaning, it was just something we had to do.
As I grew up I started to question why we fasted and why was it necessary to starve ourselves throughout the day, to give up something so delicious and something I did so often!! Eat.
Day after day wake up when it’s dark, eat, starve wait for sunset and eat! It just didn’t make sense. As I got older I started to understand my religion more and why the actions we performed and the things we sacrificed, was for a purpose. A purpose that seemed maybe difficult to fathom at first, but when you really start to grasp the meaning of our religion then everything made perfect sense.
I have later learnt that starving ourselves was not the purpose of Ramadan, rather it was sacrifice. Sacrifice is something everyone does. Sacrifice for your family, sacrifice for your community, friends or partner, and even your job. It is implemented into our lives day in and day out. There is always a purpose for sacrifice whether it is for a spiritual, material, emotional or physical matter.
So for me and many Muslims like me, Ramadan is a sacrifice for my spiritual well being, for me to re-connect with why we truly are here on this earth. To search for the true meaning of life. Ramadan allows me to push my day-to-day issues aside for one month and truly allow myself to achieve the goals that I’ve always wanted to. This month allows me to open up and strengthen my faith, to clean my slates and refresh my mind, heart and soul. It’s a month for me to dwell in its blessings and reap the rewards. To give as much as possible and eventually lighten my burden. To submit to god and strive for his sake, to sacrifice for his sake, to give up what we love for his sake, and for his sake only. Not because we should feel forced to by society or family or friends, but from deep within our hearts we should want to sacrifice because of the love we feel for our creator.
Ramadan is also a month to strengthen community ties, a month for everyone, a month where old friendships are strengthened and new ones are made. Not only are we enjoying the delicious food but we are able to sit side by side and enjoy our company or share our life experiences and unite in universal values with family, friends, neighbours or workmates. When there are many common bridges between us, it is mistaken to stress a few differences. It is coming together along with our common values and references, while acknowledging the variety of belief and practice, giving priority to understanding, compassion, empathy, dialogue and respect for others’ rights.
Ramadan is a month of unity, fellowship, which brings people from all races, all cultures and of all ages together united as one, to serve for one purpose. Ramadan is the month for me to focus. To stop useless worldly matters and to sacrifice bad habits, to give up time wasters, and allow me to turn to god and worship him like he ought to be worshiped. It’s a time for me to increase my faith and improve on my character, it is a month for me to earn rewards and socialize with people who are like minded, striving for the same goal and that is to hopefully one day live a worthy life. Ramadan is not a month for me to starve myself because I have to, or because its what everyone else is doing, it has a lot more meaning to me now, and I realize how blessed I really am to be able to live through Ramadan, year after year.