Have you ever experienced Ramadan ?
I am not living in the Middle East anymore but I wanted to share with you my wonderful experiences of Ramadan as a Non-Muslim especially in Kuwait.Now that Ramadan season has begun, I suddenly feel nostalgic of its memories in my Expat life.
I must say that I love the overall experience of it. Before, Ramadan is only a word that I associated with Muslims. I never have any real clue what is it really all about and what’s happening during this important month in a Muslim country. I had my first taste of Ramadan when I came to Kuwait last 2008.
So anyway, from the time that our new work timings were announced , a day before Ramadan starts, I was really looking forward to what will happen on the next days.As a Non-Muslim,our working days were shortened and even lesser.We started at 9 o’clock in the morning and ended at 2PM. During this time, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sundown, praying and do increased devotion of recitation of Q’uran. They are abstaining from smoking, drinking liquids and engaging in sexual acts during the time of fast which is strictly prohibited.
Seriously, If you are caught eating /drinking in public during Ramadan,there’s a legal penalty of 100KD /and jail for 1 month, (This is as per the time that this was imposed) also for anyone who forces or helps anyone to eat or drinks.But when I was pregnant,I was exempted to fast.My Boss told me it’s no problem.Normally I just munch something inside my office and do it discreetly as possible.But the visits to the Doctor during Ramadan was hard for me.I needed to make an appointment usually at night since the shifts were difficult and more flexible at night.
During this time, Kuwait totally changed.A serene peaceful atmosphere during daytime but totally alive at night. Don’t plan to go to Gulf Road during sunsets since real maniacs out there and horrible accidents happens because people are speeding in their cars trying to get home before sunset. There is some kind of Rush!Y ou can really feel that its Ramadan,even the weather changes.Sandstorms and high humidity becomes frequent.The date trees were budding with fruits.Even the decor were changed,you can see traditional colorful lanterns everywhere. All shops,Malls & restaurants are closed during the day so we need to wait until 8 PM to go out to buy something or do errands. Exceptions are some supermarkets who are open.Don’t ever expect that your paperwork in the Ministry will be done as soon as possible.Nope.It won’t be.I observed that Kuwaitis work less on these times.Everything was relaxed.Dressing appropriately is highly recommended.Ladies,be as modest as you can be.Playing loud music is not allowed.
Having an experience of Iftar or the breaking fast after sunset is really great.I love the bond between Muslims who shares meal together. Iftar can be so grand and festive in expensive hotels and restaurants but it can also be as simple as sharing their special meal laid on top of a newspaper after they said their prayers.When we go to Fish Markets,we saw the bunch of Muslim workers sitting in a circle and happily eating together.It is such a warm thing to see.There are so many mouth-watering goodies and sweets to indulge and try.I love how rich and diversified the Arabic selection of Ramadan treats.It is a must to try it when you are in a Muslim country.
It’s a time of reflection,meditation,to do charitable works and to learn something that is different from the usual norms.Everyone seems to be friendlier and kindness overflows.Exchanging Ramadan greetings is always encouraged such as “Ramadan Kareem ” and thinking less of ourselves and more of the less fortunate.Ramadan ends with a holiday celebration” Eid Ul Fitr “.It is a joyous time almost same as Christmas but with more religious significance.People dress up,visiting each other and sharing wonderful meals together and giving meals to the poor.One thing that is really authentic during this End of Ramadan is the mass Lamb murders.Sounds awful…right? but LOTS of lambs were cooked and portions were given to the poor.If you happen to pass by through backside of Friday market,you can see a herd of lambs in a truck,having a road trip for their journey to Butchery.This also marks the travel crazy frenzy season.Most Kuwaitis go out of the country It’s totally chaotic in airport.
Do you have your own story of Ramadan ? How was it?
Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim friends!