Engaging Australia’s Muslim community during Ramadan

With more than 800,000 practicing Muslims in Australia, the Islamic community represents a large and growing part of our multicultural society. As we prepare to mark the end of Ramadan, we think it’s important for the ARA to talk to members about what Ramadan means to the Muslim community and what it means for Australian retailers.

This sacred, religious festival is based on the lunar calendar, meaning it falls on a different date each year. It begins with the sighting of the new crescent moon in the month in the ninth Islamic month, lasting for either 29 or 30 days. Ramadan is marked by one of the Five Pillars of Islam, fasting. These pillars are fundamental principles of the Islamic faith, which also include faith, prayer, charity and making the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

To practise fasting during Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset.  A typical routine consists of an early morning meal before dawn, which is known as suhoor or sehri. After this meal, no meals are had, including water, until the fast is broken after sunset for the evening meal, called iftar or fitoor.

The holy month of Ramadan is a time of reflection, of spiritual quest and dedication. During this time, extra emphasis is placed on reciting the Qu’ran, strengthening one’s relationship with God, giving to charity and showing kindness and patience.

Upon the first sighting of the new crescent moon this coming Friday, the fasting month of Ramadan will come to an end with Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration which translates to “the festival of the breaking of the fast.” This celebration begins with morning prayers, followed by a gathering of family to share the first morning breakfast in a month. During Eid Al Fitr, it is traditional for Muslims to donate to charity before morning prayer to help feed the less fortunate, as well as to wear new clothes to mark the occasion.

As a melting pot of international culture, Australia has over 800,000 practising Muslims, meaning the month of Ramadan is a great opportunity for all Australians to learn about Islam and the sacred pillars which define it. Retailers can also play a role in this cross-cultural learning.

Isabel Zhang recently spoke to Inside Retail, general manager of cross-cultural insights at Bastion Insights, there is a great opportunity for retailers to engage with the Muslim community in Australia if they are willing to understand the significance of the festival. Zhang explains that meaningful, respectful relationships with the Muslim community will contribute to ongoing relationships and brand loyalty.

Recent YouGov research showed that 43 percent of Muslims surveyed were likely to spend more on food and drinks throughout the month of Ramadan, and over three quarters of consumers surveyed planned to buy some fashion garments online during Ramadan, as well as two thirds planning to buy personal care or cosmetics online.

If retailers can harness these spending behaviours and provide products that the community is looking for during Ramadan, there is great potential for a joyous and mutually beneficial relationship.

ARA member, fashion label Camilla, exemplifies this genuine, inclusive acknowledgment of Islam, through the Ramadan Modest Edit. This year is the third year of the Ramadan Modest Edit, which draws on the brand’s unique style to incorporate high necklines, long sleeves and layering to inspire a unique sense of style amongst those celebrating the holy month.

With the coming of the crescent moon this Friday, engage the Muslim community and seek to understand more about this sacred month.

As a start, if you wish someone well during Ramadan, say “Ramadan Mubarak,” which translates to “Blessed Ramadan.” And from this Friday, as the celebrations shift toward Eid al-Fitr, wish someone well and say “Eid Mubarak.”



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