Hereford & Worcester

Worcester man reflects on observing his first Ramadan

Sayhan Vernon, converted Muslim
Image caption Sayhan Vernon, originally from South Africa, converted to Islam last year

A Worcester man has been reflecting on the experience of observing his first Ramadan as a recently converted Muslim.

Sayhan Vernon, 32, decided to convert Islam in 2010 after being brought up in a Christian home and then being an atheist for a number of years.

"I've never been content with other people's explanations or another way I could say it: I was guided by Allah," said Mr Vernon.

Mr Vernon described his first Ramadan as an "achievement."

He said: "It's been testing but all in quite a positive way - I've done enough research to know it's not all about doing without food.

"It's also about yourself and the way you see yourself, being nicer in general to other people and focussing a lot more on your religion.

"There's a real sense of achievement at the end of it all."

'Discipline'

Mr Vernon, who is now engaged to another Muslim, attends the Tallow Hill mosque in Worcester.

Last year, he observed prayers and also read a lot during the month of Ramadan.

"I also I did all the fasting but the difference this year is (there was) a lot more self reflection religiously and going to the mosque and breaking fast with fellow Muslims," he said.

The Islam calendar is divided into lunar months and Ramadan falls in the ninth.

Fasting means no liquids and no food and Mr Vernon said last year he also quit smoking on the first day of Ramadan.

He said he found maintaining a job while fasting was challenging. "I was breaking fast very late and getting up extremely early - I got quite irritable.

"Observing at home and at mosque is easier to do but at work you seem to get distracted - it does take a bit of discipline but it does seem more spiritual.

"It's not easy but I think the benefits overtake anything else."

Around the BBC