Have your stomachs started to rumble? Does your throat feel just a tad bit dry? Do you watch the Food Network teasing your taste buds? To my readers, it is that time of month, my favorite month of the lunar calendar year: Ramadan.
While our senses may be heightened, so is our gratefulness of our blessings. Ramadan is that special time where we remember and help those who are less fortunate.
There’s always something special about this time of month.
I am blessed to remember the countless blessings I have while others are suffering.
I am blessed to reconnect with Allah who loves me for all my virtues and sins.
I am blessed to experience spirituality at a different level. Self- reflecting every aspect of myself: laziness, workout-junkie, cleanliness (sorry Mom) and giving each one the attention it deserves to grow into a better version of myself.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holy month which Muslims fast from the break of dawn to sunset. Nothing enters the mouth, no food and water. YES, not even water. If I could get a dollar every time I get asked this question, I wouldn’t have to work for the rest of my life. Also, no smoking.
Ramadan lasts for 30 days, once a year. Muslims follow the lunar calendar which follows the moon phases monthly. This year, it landed on Thursday May 17th, 2018* or Ramadan 1, 1439 AH (Arabic Calendar).
*Some countries started on Wed May 16th, 2018
Traditionally, Muslims break their fast during Maghrib time – the 4th prayer of the day (out of 5) – with dates, water, and samboosas. Yummmmm. (Mommy, shout out to your cheese samboosas). When the sun is setting, this is known as iftar time. The family then gathers to pray and eat a good meal, such as soup, salad, and whatever the parent feels like cooking.
There are traditional dishes and drinks that are served during Ramadan and every country is different. Here in Dammam they serve:
- Dates & water
- Samboosa – A fried delicacy stuffed with either cheese or meat with spices
- Vimto – A fruity sugary drink
- Lo gaimat – Fried balls poured with date syrup
The meal eaten before Fajr time -1st prayer of the day- which happens at dawn. Depending on where you’re living this is typically around 3-4 AM. The time when we’re still in zombie-mode trying to eat a sustainable meal to help us for the next 13 hrs + of fasting (In Dammam. Iceland fasts 22 hours) Suhoor consists of mainly breakfast food and tons of water.
My advice: avoid salty foods!! It’ll just make you thirsty.
Check out the following link from Buzzfeed providing great sustainable suhoor meals and tips!! Suhoor Meals
What if you’re sick?
In general, one might become fatigued during the day which is a typical response. The first day is always the hardest, and then it eases throughout the month.
There are people who are exempt from fasting under these conditions:
- Women during their menstrual cycle
- Physically incapable
BUT, if one does not fast a couple of days, or the whole month, one is expected to make up those days or donate food, money, or clothes, to a charity.
Luckily, we have a YEAR to make up our days!
For example, this past year I had 18 DAYS to make up!!! (10 days for travel and 8 for obvious reasons) I made up my days back in December. Why not wait until a month before Ramadan? Because Maghreb is at 4:30. YES, PLEASE!
Ramadan in Virginia, USA VS. Saudi Arabia
Even though Ramadan hasn’t really started, living in Saudi earned some brownie points (yes, I keep score). Granted I’m living in a Muslim country.
USA: Maghreb time is around 8:30. We wait to hear the Athan (call of prayer) from our mobile phones.
Saudi: Maghreb time is at 6:30. Athan is heard from local Mosques, so beautiful and heart-warming.
USA: Work/University schedule does not change or accommodate
Saudi: MOST jobs have their schedules changed. My husband now works from 8PM – 1:30 AM. His DREAM schedule. BUT, this is not the case for all! Some jobs just start later in the day or stick to their regular hours (usually supermarkets and stores)
USA: Everything closes after iftar time
Saudi: Everything becomes ALIVE after iftar time. Bookstores, cafes, corniche, malls, you name it! Places close around 3 AM! This works for me because I’m a night owl.
USA: No Ramadan decor, except in Muslim households.
Saudi: Ramadan decor in malls, cafes, even billboards!
USA & Saudi: Family gatherings on family gatherings
My Goals for this Ramadan
- Strengthen my faith and connection with Allah
- Detoxify Wi-Fi
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle (food & working out)
- Keep in touch with my family and friends more
Even though I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with living in Saudi. Ramadan here is a MAJOR pro!
I hope you enjoyed this week’s read! If you have any other questions about Ramadan or anything else, let me know!
Also, SHOUT OUT to my amazing sister for being my editor. I LOVE YOU!
Dans in Dammam
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