Ramadhan in Saudi Arabia … my story…
This year is our fifth Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. Spending the holy month in this country has been quite memorable for us. The atmosphere is so much different than what we have when we gather with our big family in Indonesia.
Our first Ramadan was quite tough. The weather was very challenging as it was very hot. This made it harder to train our children to fast since they also had to attend school.
The subsequent Ramadan started without them having to attend school at all. They were on holiday the whole month. But they were missing out on the spirit of Ramadan that they would have experienced if they were in Indonesia. This includes activities like Ramadan camps organized by the local religious boarding school, gatherings with friends and relatives at the mosque to break the fast or just hanging around waiting for the break time.
Although we live in a Muslim majority country, the children find it a little difficult to feel the Ramadan atmosphere. We are forced to stay inside the house during the day because of the terrible hot weather.
In the evenings, the sense of fasting is not obvious for the children. It is not common in Saudi Arabia that children attend the Tarawih prayers in the evenings as compared to in Indonesia. Some mosques even prevent children from entering. Hence, only few parents bring their children along to the mosque for the Tarawih prayers.
This is why we try to build the Ramadan atmosphere ourselves for our children here in Saudi Arabia, together with some of our friends’, other Muslim woman and their children.
Two weeks before Ramadan, we start to rally the children, and began to build the Ramadan atmosphere in our house. The children learn to pray together, recite the Quran together and get an explanation of fasting and general worship in the month of Ramadan. We also read them the stories about the prophet and his companions. And we also tell them our experiences fasting in our country, Indonesia. We also try to conduct Tarawih for the children, moving from one mosque to another. Also, we arrange Iftar together as well as giving food for the needy people around us. This is done so that they can feel the togetherness and build empathy for the needy people. These are some activities that foster the spirit of Ramadan that we used to do in Indonesia. Simple as they are, we hope that with these activities, our children can hopefully enjoy and feel the real meaning of Ramadan.
Ramadhan Kareem –
Sister Fauziah, Jeddah