For FACEM Dr Nemat Alsaba, the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan marks a time for fasting, giving and prayer.

“We will abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset - this is a reminder of the suffering of those less fortunate and without food or water.” Dr Alsaba says.

“This is an opportunity to detox our souls as well as our bodies during Ramadan. It is also a time to be mindful of our behaviour, words, and actions. To avoid anything that causes harm to others or oneself – this is the deeper meaning of Ramadan.”

According to Muslims Australia (The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils), the religious significance of Ramadan translates the importance of obedience to God by showing moral and spiritual discipline. This will aid in purifying one’s mind of bodily desires and evil thoughts, strengthening one’s will, caring and sharing in the hardships of others.

Ramadan begins on the evening of Tuesday, 15 May and ends on the evening of Thursday, 14 June.

The end of Ramadan is marked by a feast-day of Eid-al-Fitr which is celebrated by prayer, thankfulness and visiting family and friends.

“Twelve years ago, when you mentioned Ramadan not a lot of people would have understood what you are talking about,” says Dr Alsaba, who works at both the Gold Coast University Hospital and John Flynn Private Hospital. “But nowadays I find people are more aware.”

“The growth of cultural awareness in workplaces and communities across Australia is significant.”

Dr Alsaba says her experience of emergency departments recognising Ramadan has always been positive.

“I remember on one occasion when I was still a registrar I approached the department asking if I could do Late and Night shifts instead of Early shifts over the month of Ramadan. The department’s response was very supportive, and I think that is generally the case with emergency departments around the country. ED teams have a culture of teamwork and looking after each other. This stems from respect and simply being thoughtful and considerate towards our colleagues, to whichever culture they belong,” Dr Alsaba says.

More information on Ramadan and an insight into the holiest month of the Islamic calendar can be found on the SBS website.