This year I was lucky enough to catch the first few days of Ramadan in Fiji after 22 years of being abroad during this holy month. It was fun, overwhelming and a wonderful experience for a number of reasons.
My uncle, who is the President of a Jamat in Fiji had invited us to dinner the night of the first tarawih. As soon as our family in New Zealand sighted the moon, the phone started ringing as my uncle’s house hosts the community for 30 days for iftar meals and tarawih prayers together with other members of the jamat. It was a comical sight as all mobiles kept ringing all around us for people to get news if Ramadan was the next day while half of us trying to manage 2 calls at a time with people we didn’t know.
All of the a sudden, there was a flurry of activity post dinner relating to decisions if we follow the Kiwi’s and start Ramadan the next day, preparing the area where people were going to break fast, where they were going to pray in congregation, my daughter insisting on doing her first proper fast, me freaking out about going hungry the entire day while running around hardware and furniture shops and the like to get my flat in order etc.
Ramadan in Fiji reminded me a lot about Ramadan in Malaysia where I lived for 9 years. There is an air of festive social atmosphere and I guess the reason I was more involved within the community in Fiji was because we went through a special period with loved ones around us. When I’m abroad, it’s not the same but still a very special experience with new insights, cultural uniqueness around the same activities etc.
I love the night life in UAE during Ramadan. During the day, we are too busy to notice the day go by but at night, its lights and activity in all parts of the city. I love spending evenings with my two special friends, Rajah and Maissa who make Ramadan in the UAE that much more special. I asked my daughter what she liked most about Ramadan and she replied “having condense milk with soft yummy roti at dawn + praying in a group with other kids (she is an only child)’.
I must say that sitting here now in Sydney Australia, I feel like I’m leaving one home to go to another. My ex classmate Aiyaz is screaming at me for not having iftar in Preston at his house tonight but I have promised to spend some time with him and his family on my next trip. I would have loved to spend another day here so my daughter could have stayed with Amira, my very special Lebanese Australian university mate who also happens to be my daughters guardian.
There are plenty more Ramadan days to go – while I may not be able to commit myself to a life of a recluse the last 10 days, I sure hope to become more calm and spiritual this month. With the drama I normally go through day to day, wish me luck. I certainly need the life of a hermit to detox and get my chakras aligned in more ways than one!
I hope this Ramadan is a blessed one for Muslims all around the world. Ramadan Kareem.