Millions of British Muslims will be beginning the holy month of Ramadan this week.
The exact time will depend on the sighting of the moon but, either way, there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air.
It won’t be the same as usual but at least it won’t be as restricted as last year’s which took place fully in lockdown.
Congregational evening prayers at the mosque, called Taraweeh, didn’t take place, nor was there the feasting together with friends and family at the breaking of the fast in the evening, called Iftar.
Growing up, I remember Ramadan as one of the most special times of the year.
People always assumed Eid, the celebration at the end of the month of fasting from dawn till dusk, was the highlight and, indeed, us kids would be feverish with excitement at the thought of presents, money and new clothes.
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But Ramadan itself held its own magic too. There was the early morning breakfast called Sehri to look forward to. As an avid Enid Blyton fan who lapped up stories like Malory Towers with their midnight feasts, this thrilled me.
My parents would wake in the early hours and prepare the food. I’d beg to be woken up too and the aroma of gently frying flatbreads called parathas would fill the house.
Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset so that will be from about 4am until 8pm. There are certain exemptions – pregnant women, those who are ill or have medical conditions are not allowed to fast.
Us kids weren’t allowed to fast either, which made us more desperate. And then our parents would allow us to do the ‘half-day fast’, which we couldn’t manage either – generally we’d be crying with hunger half an hour in.
The aim is to practise self-discipline and obedience to God while also giving up bad habits and increasing good habits, like giving to charity.
Patience is another important aspect of our faith and the Government tested this sorely last year when they announced the new lockdown just hours before the second celebration of Eid ul Adha.
Let’s be grateful that restrictions are finally easing.
Just as we see the light of the moon to signal the start of Ramadan there is also light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic.