Remembering Ramadan

This is the sixth year that I spend Ramadan away from Jordan and away from friends and family. On the long list of things I miss about home Ramadan may very well rank number one. I miss all you can eat at Pizza Hut with friends. I miss family around the table. I miss the few minutes of rush before the athan; given some idle task to do like warm the bread because Iâ??m annoying my mother. I miss the lights and decorations, cialis seek the crescents and the stars. I miss the night air that surrounds the entrance of a mosque after leaving taraweeh prayers to walk back home. I miss the sidewalks of Jabal Hussein at night. I miss the athan.

Itâ??s a lot to miss I suppose.

But before you mistake this post for nostalgia there are several things I donâ??t miss. I donâ??t miss people constantly complaining about how hungry they are and I donâ??t miss watching people break their fast on a cigarette. I donâ??t miss people swallowing their whole meal before the maghreb prayer is even over. I donâ??t miss the people who use fasting as an excuse for being rude or ineffective at their job more than usual, sick as if Ramadan wasnâ??t intended to mend those human flaws rather than amplify them. Sometimes people become so notorious during this month that I figure once Ramadan moves into the summer months Jordanâ??s economy will suffer a dramatic decline over the next few years. I donâ??t miss the argeelah smoke-clad cafes, â??Ramadan tentsâ? and hotel â??Ramadan Nightsâ?, as if the intention of this one-month of the year dedicated to God and worship was for people to go out to smoke tobacco and watch a belly dancer shake and jiggle.

What happens when you leave this environment and enter a whole other one is that you have to pack the ideals in a suitcase along with your clothes. The ideals of restraining oneself from food and drink, the ideals behind heightening the spiritual senses, focusing on the actual act of worship. A month dedicated to God, dedicated to humility, dedicated to reminders; reminders of our place in this world, reminders of priorities, reminders of how despite our daily complaints we have it better than most and reminders of all the things we tend to forget 11 months of the year. And the fasting makes it hard to forget any of it.

Outside the Islamic world life goes on and no one cares if youâ??re fasting or what Ramadan is or your ideals, which is why youâ??re forced to incorporate them into your life under the cover of solitude. And I suppose it doesnâ??t matter where you are, itâ??s the solitude that really makes all the difference. The same way the Prophet pbuh years ago walked away from the city and into the comfort of a solitary cave. But the intention of Ramadan is to draw closer to oneâ??s relationships, be they with God, family, friends or self. The idea is to reach a higher plateau with all these relationships. For six years Iâ??ve been denied my family and friends so Iâ??ve missed that aspect of what Jordan has to offer but Iâ??ve relied on God and self and that will probably be an aspect I will miss whenever I go back home.

This is all by way of saying I suppose that no environment is perfect. I think we just have to rely on those ideals to remind us all what Ramadan is truly about and in doing so decide what it is we want to do with the coming month. Something constructive or simply going hungry because everyone else is? To improve oneself as a Muslim during the annual opportunity to do so, or to let the month fade day by day by day. The difference can be as thin as the black thread from the white thread of daylight.


  • Everything you said is absolutely true …

    I’ve always thought that living in a non-muslim enviornment makes it just a tad bitter harder for us to go through the month in the sense that we don’t enjoy the ‘collective’ spirit of the month…Our work hours are not adjusted to accomodate iftar time, lunch meetings are inevitable, most days I break my fast at work or going home from work, and so forth…but all this is part of what fasting is all about…

    This is a blessed month, a time of refelection, devotion, self control… things we should be practicing all year round … May each year bring us closer to Allah! Kol saneh winta salim!

  • Great post. This ramadan will be my first outside Jordan. I will be myself too.Fasting Ramadan here will be harder, bas “il ajr 3ala qadar il mashaqa”.

  • Nas, this was lovely. May God surprise you as you seek Him in solitude this Ramadan. To practice Ramadan inwardly, without the trappings of the outer celebration must be more in line with it’s original intent, mish?

    I feel the same way about Christmas in Jordan. Not so much now that the whole country has the day off; but seeing all the external trappings of Christmas, which have nothing to do with the birth of Christ, being highlighted and Christ completely neglected. I won’t go near a mall then, it just makes me sad.

  • “must be more in line with itâ??s original intent”

    kinzi, maybe. i mean there are many aspects to ramadan: there is that inward nature to it that leads to coming closer to God but there’s also the outward nature of coming closer to family friends and community. both natures are supposed to be practiced under the religious umbrella of ramadan. it’s just tough to achieve both or to find an environment that offers both.

    i know what you mean by Christmas. it’s been stripped of practically any religious connotations in the western world. i think ramadan by it’s nature is different and will probably never experience a full commercialized takeover. the fact that it’s also a month long might also help with adjusting the social mindset.

  • I would love to trade places with you in ramadan. I would love to be able to control my life as an individual, and as a “father” in a smal family of three members instead of being hijacked into this social trauma associated with ramadan in Jordan. The first wish I have in each and every Ramadan is to spend the next one in a non-muslim country!

  • I miss Ramadan in Saudi! Ramadan in Amman sucks, especially at Jordan University. I also hate all the compulsory 3azayem…
    Last year we ran a Ramadan experiment, I should tell you about that later 😀

  • I think, even as a convert, I see Ramadan becoming more and more commericialised. I think the real meaning has been lost, often purposely subverted often.

    How many people in “Muslim lands” sleep until 15 minutes before adhan? It has, for many people, become the month where you sleep the days away, only to awaken and eat until you are about ready to explode.

    How many people do you know that actually GAIN weight during Ramadan? Here in the West we cannot get away with this type of stuff and fasting is pretty hard as everyone is eating around you.

    Time to get back to the original meaning of Ramadan.

  • This reminds me of my first Ramadan away from my familyâ?¦I used to sleep during â??Iftarâ? because I couldnâ??t eat without themâ?¦

  • Nas, I agree that the outward expression of community of Ramadan (and Christmas) is a vital part of the celebration.

    What I meant was all the decor and over-eating that goes with it, mirroring in Ramadan the very worst of un-Christ-mass. Believe it or not, there are “Ramadan Trees” and wreaths.

    Abu Sinan, it’s always interesting to get your perspective on these things as a convert. When you say the purpose has been purposefully subverted, do you mean like a Chinese Communist conspiracy to undermine both faiths by flooding the market with poorly made Ramadan and Christmas junk?? 🙂

  • Kinzi,

    I guess that sounded bad. I am not into conspiracy theories. What I meant is that people know that they are doing things that go against the spirit of Ramadan, yet they do it anyway.

    Like George Bernard Shaw once said, Islam is the greatest religion, but it’s followers are the worst.

  • No, Abu S, you didn’t sound bad at all, I know you are not a conspiracy theorist. Hypocrisy is a human condition, affecting us all.

  • batir, ironically the concern for what’s inside the box becomes greater once your standing outside it.

    Roba, i’ll try and remember to remind you to tell me 😀

    Abusinan, couldn’t agree more.

    kinzi, i really have no specific problem with the decor or the culture behind ramadan, in fact i kind of like the way it has become cultural (or always been), its a positive consequence of internationalization of a religious pillar. ramadan in indonesia is different from qatar different from algeria different from where have you. i think our concern (i as a muslim, you as a christian) is with commercialization taking over. when i think christmas i think santa, not Christ, as do I’m sure many many many people. when i think ramadan i still think of religion. i think its because its sort of unfair almost to compare the two holidays religiously, they’re not exactly on the same level if you know what i mean. in terms of the religious approach. culturally they can be compared.

  • How many people in â??Muslim landsâ? sleep until 15 minutes before adhan? It has, for many people, become the month where you sleep the days away, only to awaken and eat until you are about ready to explode.

    Wow, exactly what I was going to say.

    I was reading a National Geographic magazine from a couple years ago and it had an article about the KSA. The reporter arrived (in I think Jeddah) on the Red Sea the week before Ramadan ended. During the day it was a ghost town. No one was out, nothing was open, the only people he saw were policemen, city workers, etc. Then, after sunset, bam! everyone comes outside, the shops & restaurants open, and it was a big party all night long until first light of dawn. Then everyone disappeared back to bed.

    So much for fasting to understand and experience what the poorest of us go through every day.

  • Speaking of Ramadan, dont you love the various royals and ultra rich who run to Europe for the month of Ramadan? There they party, drink, do what they do normally, then come home for Eid.

    I ran into one such group a few years ago in Paris during Ramadan when I was there on business. They were Saudi, the Gulf elite are famous for this stuff.

    They didnt know that I spoke Arabic, or even yet that I was Muslim, and it was interesting to hear them talk about their hangovers, the blond from the night before, lunch plans, and what clubs they were going to that night.

    Of course, come Eid, they will end up in Riyadh complaining about how hard it was to fast in the West. Ha.

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