Ramadan in UAE: Fasting is the greatest thing I experienced as a new Muslim, says convert

Muwonge who embraced Islam in 2022 says his many questions about spirituality and God were answered by the religion of peace


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 25 Mar 2023, 4:23 PM

Last updated: Sat 25 Mar 2023, 4:44 PM

One of the challenges often faced by new converts to Islam is their first month of Ramadan fasting.

While many may have fasted for a day or two, keeping away from food and water from sunrise to sunset for an entire month can be a daunting task for someone who has never done it.

Such was the case with Joshua Muwonge from Uganda, who arrived in Dubai in 2017, and embraced Islam last year.

For many like him who may have converted to the faith recently, having a few doubts and anxiety can be a common condition. However, despite all the challenges while fasting, Muwonge says it has been one of the greatest things he experienced as a new Muslim.

Muwonge embraced Islam in 2022, just a few months before Ramadan. “I was lucky to fast the entire Ramadan last year,” exclaimed the Ugandan expat.

“I took my Shahadah at the Al Manar Centre under the guidance of Dr Shaikh Ayaz Housee in February. It was difficult to fast, but Dr Ayaz guided me on overcoming the urge for food and water during fasting hours,” said Muwonge.

Since Muwonge was residing in a shared apartment, it was difficult for him to wake up for suhoor and prepare food. “I was working in Dubai and staying in Umm Al Quwain at my company’s accommodation. I found it a bit difficult as my roommates were of other faith. So without disturbing them, I had to carry on with my suhoor,” said Muwonge.

Though the initial days were difficult, by the middle of Ramadan 2022, Muwonge was used to fasting and the changed schedules. “I did not feel any tiredness until iftar. It became easy for me in the latter part.”

Much easier

He says this year, things have become much more easy. “While travelling left me dehydrated and exhausted last year as I was fasting during Ramadan, this year, since I am residing in Deira, fasting has become easy and is not tiresome like before as my travel time is cut drastically,” said Muwonge.

Since Muwonge converted to Islam, he has managed to invite hundreds of his countrymen to the faith, and this year, all of these friends come together for Suhoor and also prepare iftar together. “Last year, Ramadan was a period of loneliness, as I did not have anyone. This year, I have my brothers who are fasting with me. We wake up, have suhoor, go to pray at mosques and learn the holy Quran together,” said Muwonge.

Muwonge, who was brought up in an orthodox Christian family and community, said he had media-fed impression of Islam before arriving in the UAE. “I had a different view of the religion before I came to the UAE. However, when I got exposed to Islam and Muslim people after arriving in Dubai, I realised that whatever I had heard or read about Islam was far from the truth. I realised the beauty of the religion and seeing the way Muslims went about their lives was an inspiration to me,” said Muwonge.

Explaining his journey to Islam, Muwonge said that his first encounter was with his colleagues and friends. “They explained to me about Islam, and a few days later, I had a strange dream inviting me to the religion,” said Muwonge.

On his weekly off, Muwonge asked his friends to introduce him to a scholar as he wanted answers to some of the questions gnawing at his mind. “I had many questions about religion and God. The scholar managed to provide satisfactory answers to those questions, which made me embrace the religion of peace,” said Muwonge.


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