I used to roll my eyes upon hearing my friends telling stories of Ramadan in their home countries. Part of my attitude was due to ignorance, not knowing what Ramadan was like in a Muslim country. The other was triggered by jealously upon hearing stories about family gatherings and traditions that I was not able to create with my non Muslim family.
This is my second Ramadan in Egypt and I must say that my friends were right, celebrating this month in a Muslim country is very different than in the United States. However, there are both cons and pros being in these two countries during the holy month.
Pros of Ramadan in Egypt;
- The whole country evolves around this month. People are able to go to work a little later and/or come home early to break their fast.
- The streets are lighten with Ramadan decorations.
- After breaking the fast, the streets are filled with excitement and movement.
- Eating many traditional foods and sweets
- People are more prosperous towards each other. This month is also a great month for giving charity. Therefore, people make a great effort to feeding the poor, giving money to beggars and donate unwanted stuff.
- There is less chaos during the hours of fasting.
- Family/friends visiting each other to break the fast together.
- Three days off to celebrate the end of Ramadan
Cons of Ramadan in Egypt:
- The daily routines get thrown out of the window. People stay up in the late hours at night and wake up super late.
- The heat is beyond unbearable.
- People tend to eat a lot and unhealthy during this month defeating the purpose of eliminating excess consumption and building empathy for those who do not have food to eat on a daily basis.
- There is a stigma for eating in public for the people that exempt from fasting, for example, if you are a pregnant woman, breastfeeding mother, sick, on the menstruation cycle or even a Christian it is very hard to eat in public without judgment.
- As a woman, you are not able to assist the Friday prayer and the extra prayer at the mosque
Pros of Ramadan in United States:
- Routine, the fact that it is Ramadan does not change the daily duties and responsibilities that need to be preformed. Although, the country does not change to support the Muslims during this month, actually can have great benefits, such as being organized on what you need to do towards your Islamic practices throughout the day and how one is going to accomplish the goals one sets for himself during this month.
- Getting invited to friend’s house and enjoying a different culture and traditions while breaking the fast.
- Going to the mosque and praying the extra prayer as a woman.
- More changes to demonstrate Islam in a positive away and break the misconceptions seen in the media.
- No judgment if a Muslim is walking down the street holding a cup of coffee.
Cons of Ramadan in the United States:
- No understanding from your job if you all the sudden are less productive and tired at work.
- Breaking the fast during break time which sometimes consist of a 30 minute break, where we have to eat, drink and pray.
- Life doesn’t stop in this month so if one is not organized, one can loose many opportunities for extra good deeds, charity and prayers.
- No payed holiday for celebrating the end of Ramadan unless one uses his own vacation or personal time.
- Not hearing the call for prayer and enjoying the Quran being recited in the streets.
Disclaimer:These are my personal experiences in both of the countries during Ramadan. It isn’t by any means a whole representation each of these countries.
P.S: I would love to hear what Ramadan is like where you live. Comment down bellow, where you are currently living and what are your Ramadan traditions.