Though Ramadan is now past, I would be remiss not to mention anything about it. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar in which the people fast during the daylight hours from eating, drinking, smoking, kissing, etc. The dates change each year as the calendar is based on the moon, this year putting it in the heat of the summer. We were gone for most of this month but returned and ate one “iftar” (break-fast) meal at a packed restaurant.
This “breakfast” meal is customary–dates, a hard-boiled egg, a bowl of harira soup, fresh squeezed juice, bread, and a chebakia treat. Milk is also common. The waiter served us this food before sundown and we all waited until it was dark to eat. The streets are eerily empty at this time. The call to prayer–the Maghrib–is heard. People eat a little and then many go and pray.
The time breaking the fast together is special for the family and also for the community to tighten its bonds. At night, the city becomes alive with activity while pressure cookers buzz with steam as the midnight feast is being prepared. I have heard it said that ironically, more money is spent on food this month than any other month. Maybe it’s this community-feel and good food that caused my friend to say that she loves Ramadan, that it’s beautiful. Maybe it’s the Ramadan desire to be increasingly blessed by Allah. Maybe it’s the daytime sacrifice that has built their character. All I know is what I observe and the attitudes and actions are not always pretty.
So I am glad that it is finished…very glad in fact. And I didn’t even do the hard work of fasting.