Perceptions about the impacts of Ramadan month and Iftar program at AUT Mosque on holistic health
Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar. Muslims in Ramadan refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and intercourse from dawn to sunset. Each Ramadan, there is a free Iftar meal program at sunset for the Muslim community at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Mosque. This program feeds between 200 to 300 people every night. The Iftar program is funded by charities and local businesses. The study aimed: firstly, to gather the perceptions of AUT Mosque members on the impacts of Ramadan on holistic health. Secondly, to gather the perceptions of members of AUT Mosque specifically on the Iftar program.
In this qualitative study, two focus groups were held during, and after, Ramadan 2017 at the AUT Mosque. The total number of participants were 10 males and 8 females from different age groups from various cultures. The focus group recordings were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.
The key findings of this study related to the improvement of spirituality, physical health and nutrition during Ramadan. Results were separated into two sections, one for the male participants and the other for women. Female participants showed a greater interest in nutrition. During Ramadan, participants noted reasonable improvement in their physical health through a loss of weight and more regulated sleeping cycle. Female participants reported improvements in their spiritual health during Ramadan. Men revealed an improvement in their spiritual health due to worship, voluntary work and community feeling during Ramadan. Male participants were focused on the type, quantity and the taste of food. The participants provided suggestions for food in future Iftar programs, related to healthiness, cultural variation and taste. This study suggests that Ramadan has a positive impact on the holistic health of Muslims. The Iftar program played a role in improving the wellbeing of participants. In addition, spirituality of male and female participants was impacted and improved during the month of Ramadan. Both male and female participants were satisfied with the Iftar program and offered suggestions to improve the program. In terms of nutritional expertise, female participants showed a better understanding of nutritional value of the served meals. Therefore, it is recommended that female participants be involved in the decision-making for the Iftar program at AUT Mosque.