Ramadan Series-Day 17

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. Image result for ramadan in egypt
  • 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

Image result for ramadan in egypt

 

Image result for ramadan in egypt

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:

Image result for 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. Image result for ramadan in united states
  • 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.

 

 

Advertisements

Ramadan 2017-Day 8

I was not planning on posting anything today but since insomnia is beating my behind I decided “why not” make my lack of sleep useful.

I want to write a post about the difference between Ramadan in the States and in Egypt but to be honest I feel quite lazy to do so. Instead, I am just going to pour my feelings out and I will be very raw about it.

Today was no doubt the hardest fast ever. Fasting is a wonderful experience both physical and spiritual but it doesn’t make it less hard. In fact, I love fasting and everything that comes with it so much that I decided to give it a go even being 7 months pregnant.

Ramadan is not just about fasting, it’s also about detoxifying yourself from all the bad from this world. It is about building a true connection with your Creator by establishing sincere acts of worship and always calling your Creator in your prayers. It is a clean slack, where if you are completely true to your intentions and actions during this month than hopefully God will forgive all of our sins. It is the time to prioritize what is the most important thing in our lives and try to fix and eliminate our bad habits. During this time, Muslims not only fast but they pray more with extra sincerity, they call upon God more throughout the day and try to be as conscious as possible of our behavior and intentions.

It is all easy said than done especially when you have two toddlers who happen to always make their mom extra tired when she is already tired. It seems like children love to test their parents limits when they are in their absolute worst mood. But in fact is that we as parents are also humans and need to sometimes plug out.

I was my worst self, the self that I don’t like and my kids are not happy about it either. I was completely aware that my behavior was affecting my kid’s behavior as well. However, for some reason I was not able to switch off even though I really wanted to. Today, I just wanted to hand my kids to one of their family members and just take an one hour rest.

The truth of the matter, everyone in Egypt is exhausted. This country is not an easy one to live in for most Egyptians not to mention for an foreigner who is stuck in very authentic Egyptian life without any language resources. I think the language, culture and having to lean on someone to always help you in the simplest to the toughest of the problems is what is making this experience a very tough one. I can’t solve most of my problems so things just keep on adding on and on until I become an emotional rack.

If you are reading this from the Western world than you must be thinking right now “poor girl, I wish I was there to rescue you”. However, leaving here a little more than a year, all of my problems seem to be minuscule to most people in Egypt. In fact, I do feel very blessed as I have seen so much despair in this country and the world. The horrendous acts in Syria, the constant perseverance of the Palestinian people and knowing that there are people today all around the world that go to sleep and wake up hungry. Countless people who have lost everything due to natural disaster catastrophes and those who live in slums that don’t have access to clean water, food and medical treatment.

No matter how bad my day was today and I am sure I will have many other bad ones. I still feel blessed that my days are mostly affected my tiredness, hormonal changes, pregnancy moods ect. Ramadan is not about being perfect and setting perfect expectations, to me it is about being honest and striving to improve always. The one thing I want to get out of Ramadan the most is always leaning on God to help me with my problems and to trust what he has destined for my journey in this life.

Image result for “And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.”

 

 

Ramadan 2017 Series-Day 2

Today was very difficult to fast. For some reason I was not able to sleep during the night. I am not sure if I got an indigestion due to my late snack or the reason for not being sleepy was caused by my late nap. I also think I have a lot of energy after my dinner and should have done some light exercises.

Despite how difficult today was, I was able to sustain my fast. However, today’s post will not be about my challenging fast while pregnant but about something that I have stuck on my mind. Ramadan is a perfect opportunity to break bad habits but yet right after time to break the fast people quickly fill up the coffee house (or whatever they are called).

These coffee shops that men frequent so much here in Egypt is still a mystery to me. It just baffles me how men waste so much time in these coffee places, playing games, smoking shisha and cigarettes. I can’t stop and wonder where are the women married to these men. The obvious answer is that they are home but I can’t fathom conforming with the idea of my husband spending his time at coffee shops while I at home taking care of domestic work.

Image result for coffee shops in egypt

Image result for coffee shops in egypt

It is a very strong tradition here in Egypt and I believe it goes back to pre-Islamic times. It is the biggest entertainment for men. In fact there are numerous reasons why men frequent coffee houses, such as;

  • A quick meet up with friends. The coffee place is  perfect for a quick chatter and catching up with a friend without having to host him in the house. Egyptian men are very protective of their wives and even close friends would hardly frequent a married man’s house unless he is bring his wife and kids and the whole nigh yards.
  • It’s a place where men often talk about business, work related topics and politics
  • To enjoy a cup of coffee and tea before or after anything. For example, going to work, let me drink a cup of tea even though I just had one at home. Coming out of the Friday prayer, one might think, “Oh that was a profound sermon, let me grab a cup of tea and ponder about it”. You get my point
  • In some cases people are plain addicted to the shisha and games that these coffee places offer to men.
  • To watch a popular football game

Image result for traditional coffee shops in egypt

Before you wonder how unfair it is for the Egyptian women, I must tell you that there are coffee places for mixed gender where a women can enjoy a cuppa tea or coffee and even some shisha. The demand for these coffee shops are mainly shaped by the men.

Image result for traditional coffee shops in egypt

During the holy month of Ramadan your deeds and sins are doubled and I wonder if it ever ponders in these men’s heads that what they are doing should be avoided especially during Ramadan. Since good deeds are counted as doubled, the time wasted at the coffee shops could have been used to spending time with family, helping the wives around the house. Where bad deeds such as hurting your self and wasting time in meaningless games will be counted as doubled as well.

These men stubbornness to frequent the coffee houses even in the holy month makes me question their intentions during Ramadan. Sometimes, I feel that Islam is infused in their culture so much so that most people can’t distinguish what is Islam and what is culture unless one remains engaged with his religion and builds a constant knowledge in Islam.

Nevertheless to say, I hope you are having a wonderful Ramadan and that God will accept you fast, prayers, good intentions and good deeds. I hope God will make us an unbreakable and strong community. May this month be a blessed one for you and may it bring you closer to your Creator.