Reminiscing a Ramadhan in the Past
To spend Ramadhan or Eid away from one’s family is not something some may consider a Blessing. But Alhamdullilah, I have been blessed to experience countless Ramadhans and Eids away from loved ones. Through these I appreciated the different cultural practices in a religious event.
In my early 20’s I spent Ramadhan in Malaysia. For 4 years, Ramadhan fell during final exam season. Final year in KL was toughest, I was struggling to finish my honours year project, write up my thesis and revise for finals. But the presence of the Ramadhan Bazaars meant breaking fast and sahur were not a problem. The variety of food, both savoury n sweet, and drinks sold! My friends and I just had to exercise self control when it came to choosing our food. In the first couple of days, we ended up with surplus food. Tarawikh offered us a respite from mugging.
Then came 6 years of Ramadhan in Dublin, Ireland. Lucky for me, Ramadhan fell during winter season. The challenge this time was breaking fast whilst lectures were still going on at 4pm! Thankfully, the lecturers and non-Muslim students didn’t mind the ripping of chocolate wrappers or munching of sandwiches as lectures continued. Iftar at the Dublin mosque was an amazing experience, we broke fast with dates and juice, followed by solat Maghrib and then came dinner: a huge round tray laden with rice, tandoori chicken, kebabs and koftas. A tray meant for six could be shared amongst eight to ten of us Malaysian students! It provided us students a respite from cooking! But even then we Malaysian students would organise Iftar amongst our own group. For those who did tarawikh at MHD, we had moreh to look forward to. It was solat tarawikh at the mosques that opened my eyes to different cultural practices. In Dublin, children could pray in the same row as adults, not banished to the back of the mosques. I found this practice actually less disruptive. Ramadhan in Dublin will always hold a special place in my heart and mind.
After graduation, I worked in the UK. I had the experience of breaking fast by swallowing my saliva whilst assisting in the operating theatre, of sharing in lovingly home-cooked Iftar and dinner by my wonderful Egyptian friend, Dahlia Mohamed, and of sleeping past my Iftar time because I was doing a week of night shift duty. The absence of Ramadhan bazaars did not reduce the essence or glory of Ramadhan itself.
Now, I will InsyaAllah be greeting my third Ramadhan in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. With the shortened work hours and absence of bazaars, it should provide less distractions for a truly spiritual immersion. Alhamdullilah, I had the opportunity to have Iftar and Tarawikh at the Holy Prophet’s Mosque last year, with baby and all. MasyaAllah, a truly sublime experience. May Allah grant me and my fellow Muslims more of such opportunities.
Ramadhan Kareem to all.