Sheffield United star on how Ramadan helped heal his community

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Earlier today, just before sunrise, Anel Ahmedhozic enjoyed his suhoor - the meal Muslims take before observing their Ramadan fast - which ends at sunset.

The Sheffield United defender, currently on international duty with Bosnia and Herzegovina, will continue to follow the practice until April 21st when the holiest month of the Muslim calendar ends with the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Born in Sweden, where his family relocated following the Balkans War, religion has shaped Ahmedhodzic’s life ever since he was a youngster growing up in Rosengard; an area of Malmo which has long been a destination for immigrants into the Scandinavian country.

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Describing events around the iftar, when those following the teachings of Islam break their daily fast after sunset, he told The Star: “It is a holy month. It is a month of worshipping God and having strong faith. It is a month when we fast every day until the sun sets. To me, ever since I was a kid, all my friends, everyone was fasting and went to the mosque and prayed.

“It brings the whole community together. Where I grew up, it was not normal for everyone to come together like that so it was very special.”

“You invite friends for dinner when the sun sets,” he added. “We were always eating at someone else’s house. When they come to you it is a big honour and you get this amazing feeling. It is very special and helps teach you what is important.”

Abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities and cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Ramadan also emphasises the importance of self-control, discipline and helping those in need. Zakat - compulsory charity - is regarded as obligatory.

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Eid celebrations in Doha: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty ImagesEid celebrations in Doha: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images
Eid celebrations in Doha: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

Eid, which lasts for three days, marks the end of Ramadan. Friends and families gather together for a celebration and a breaking of the fast feast.

“I will let my missus plan the feast,” said Ahmedhodzic, whose ancestral homeland contains large Muslim and Christian populations. “She is Bosnian. She is not Muslim but she understands it very well and has grown up around Muslims.”