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A Question of Faith: Life as a Motorsport Professional During Ramadan

March 11, 2024

March 11, 2024, marked the start of Ramadan and over the next 30 days, the Islamic world will take the time to spiritually reflect and worship to become closer to God.

Between dawn and sunset, Muslims forgo food and drink to devote themselves to their faith, practicing self-discipline to not only improve oneself, but to also help those in need.

Client Relations Manager, Marium Tahir, joined Pace Six Four in 2021 and as a practicing Muslim, is now observing Ramadan and will do so until Eid, when the month will come to an end.

From the dietary restrictions that stem from Ramadan, many across the world assume that the month is difficult, and while it does present challenges, it also brings incredible satisfaction.

For Marium, Ramadan is a key part of her faith, and whenever the month approaches, she always looks forward to it.

"As a practicing Muslim, I follow the five pillars of my faith: faith, prayer, fasting, alms, and pilgrimage, but the core of that comes down to the five daily prayers," says Marium.

"I pray five times each day, to make myself a better person.

"During Ramadan we fast for 30 days, but the time of Ramadan changes every year because Islam follows the lunar calendar.

"We typically fast from sunrise to sunset, which means that I don't eat or drink during those hours.

"A lot of people who haven't observed Ramadan before usually assume that it's difficult and restricting, but as a Muslim, it's something that I always look forward to.

"The month itself is about prayer, reflection, and stripping back to basics. I focus on my family, myself, and God, and it takes me closer to my religion."

Ramadan is often misjudged, especially from a physical perspective, and while adjusting to fasting can be quite challenging initially, Marium finds that the body adapts in only a few days.

The biggest difficulty she faces, however, is balancing Ramadan with her schedule and daily life. That is, until now.

"I don't think it's actually that difficult to fast, physically. Initially over the first few days, you might have a bit of a headache but eventually, your body adjusts and gets used to it," she explains.

"There are a lot of things you can do to make fasting easier, but as a Muslim living in the West, I do think it’s more difficult to observe Ramadan that it is in the East.

"In the East, all timings change during Ramadan. Everything closes during the day and opens in the evening, working hours are reduced, and because of the timetable, it's much easier to observe in a Muslim country.

"I've found that hybrid and remote working has allowed me to observe Ramadan and follow my religion properly because it gives me flexibility in my day.

"When I was working in previous on-site roles, I found that I wasn't able to fast daily. Travelling to go into the office and then having to interact with people was quite tiring, physically.

"As someone who used to be anaemic, I used to struggle to keep up my energy levels, so it was tough for me, but on Fridays, the Holy Day in Islam, I made sure to fast. Because it was the end of the week, I found that I could get through the day.

"On-site, I also wasn't able to pray just because there was no space or place which could accommodate my needs, but working from home has such a big impact, and it has brought me closer to my religion.

"Society now is becoming more inclusive and more diverse, and I think organisations now better understand the responsibilities which come from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

"Pace Six Four have always understood this, and I'm always able to adjust my days to practice my faith, while still completing my workload each day.

"I do think the thirty days of fasting can be challenging for most people with the long working hours, but in the right working environment, I also do believe it's possible to balance practicing your faith with an increasingly congested motorsport calendar.

"The main bit of advice I'd give to someone trying to balance both, is to never be afraid to ask. In today's society, employers should be willing to help you, and I'm glad to say that's certainly been my experience."

Ramadan has always been close to Marium’s heart, and in May, she will have completed her fast, although the final 10 days are often the most challenging.

"I was very young when I fasted for the first time, but I remember waking up early with my parents to have food. I said it's something I look forward to, but it is an amazing experience,” she continues.

"Finishing Ramadan is also such a fulfilling feeling – knowing that you made it through. I love it, but at the end, it can be quite tough just because our days get longer.

"The final 10 days of Ramadan are the holiest, and this is when I focus on prayer the most. We stay up later to pray, and this means that we lose more and more sleep over consecutive days.

"This is the main reason why hours and timetables change in Muslim countries, and being in the West, I think this is when it gets the most difficult," she adds.

"But with flexible working, I'm still able to fully devote myself to and practice my faith, without needing to compromise in any area of my life.

"At the end of Ramadan, we go into one of our biggest celebrations of the year, Eid Al-Fitr, and it's such a rewarding feeling.

"Not only spiritually but going through a physical detox feels like I'm starting again. It's very enjoyable.”

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