Kiwi teen ex­plains Ramadan

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAT­IFA DAUD

Since June 19, 2.2 per cent of Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion has been fast­ing for the Mus­lim holy month of Ramadan.

But it’s not easy – es­pe­cially if you’re a teenager.

Ac­cord­ing to 2013 cen­sus data, more than 4000 of Auck­land’s Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion are of high school age.

Dur­ing Ramadan, Mus­lims of sound health are re­quired to fast be­tween sunrise and sunset.

Hamza Ri­azud­din, 16, is a New Zealand-born Pak­istani and Mt Roskill lo­cal. He plays club cricket and is part of Puke­ta­papa Lo­cal Board’s Raise Up pro­gramme.

He is also a part-time Qu­ran teacher at his lo­cal mosque and works in his fam­ily’s cake fac­tory, all while ob­serv­ing the holi­est month of the Mus­lim cal­en­dar.

‘‘In Ramadan most peo­ple bring all the good stuff to school like cho­co­late.

‘‘I never get of­fered food, but dur­ing Ramadan I do,’’ Ri­azud­din jokes.

‘‘It’s hard but not that hard. I don’t re­ally get hun­gry ex­cept when the kids I teach are run­ning up and down. From con­trol­ling them I get hun­gry.’’

Ri­azud­din says he of­ten finds him­self hav­ing to ex­plain to his peers what Is­lam is about.

‘‘They don’t have a great pic­ture of what Is­lam is.

‘‘Some peo­ple will say as a joke ‘Al­lahu Ak­bar’ but they don’t ac­tu­ally un­der­stand that not ev­ery­one is like that.

‘‘I try to ex­plain to them I’m sit­ting here with you, I’m jok­ing around, there’s no ex­trem­ist thing that I’m do­ing.’’

Ri­azud­din says it is a strug­gle to deal with is­sues of racism and ‘‘how the media por­trays 1.6 bil­lion peo­ple the same, as ex­trem­ists’’.

‘‘Peo­ple call me a ter­ror­ist when I go out wear­ing Is­lamic clothes but what have I ter­rorised?

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately ev­ery time some­thing hap­pens around the world it’s brought back to us.’’

How­ever, Ri­azud­din be­lieves so­ci­ety is be­com­ing more un­der­stand­ing about the global faith.

‘‘There are other peo­ple who re­ally do un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of what Mus­lims do.

‘‘We should be happy in New Zealand that it’s a mul­ti­cul­tural coun­try and peo­ple adapt to dif­fer­ent cul­tures.’’ Ac­cord­ing to Ri­azud­din the Kiwi Mus­lim iden­tity is pick­ing up. ‘‘There’s all these dif­fer­ent cul­tures at the mosque. Pak­ista­nis, In­di­ans, Afghans, So­ma­lis, Mid­dle Eastern, Malaysian – you’ll find all these peo­ple there – they have a great bond and that’s what is pos­i­tive about Mus­lims in New Zealand.’’

The month of Ramadan ends on July 18, depend­ing on the sight­ing of the new moon.

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