Kiwi teen explains Ramadan
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.