Ramadan Preparations, 2018

Ramadan is right around the corner and that means preparation for the holy month has started. There is a significant difference and momentum celebrating Ramadan in a Muslim country. The same goes to say for Christmas in a majority Christian country, the feeling is so contagious that even Muslim fall in love with everything about the season. The same goes for Ramadan in a Muslim country, there is an indescribable magnetic force that makes everyone excited for the holy month.

There a couple of traditions that I have noticed and began to adapt in my life, that happens in Egypt right before Ramadan starts. About a month prior to the holy month you began seeing grocery stores filled with Ramadan decorations and selling Ramadan’s popular foods, such as dates, dry fruits, juices, sugar, all types of flours and nuts and much more. People usually rush to the big supermarkets to fill their pantries with a month worth of supplies.

Women go out to shop with their children in search of that perfect outfit to wear for Eid day (the ceremony that commemorates the end of Ramadan). This allows the kids to get extra excited for Ramadan where most kids are given gifts, money and get to show off their new clothing.

Most people start uncluttering their homes before Ramadan, kind of what we do during spring cleaning in the states. This is a great opportunity to get rid of old unwanted items around the house and get everything tidy for Ramadan.

Lights and decor fill up the streets given an unique magical atmosphere to the chaotic country of Egypt. Lanterns, table cloths, pillows and much more with Ramadan patterns fabrics are sold everywhere in the streets.

Image result for Ramadan decorations in egypt

Photo taken by Mai Shasheen

Ramadan is not only expressed outwardly, many people start preparing spiritually as well. Many fast prior to Ramadan in order to gain a spiritual momentum before the beginning of the holy month. Others set daily goals and practices such as praying on time, reading the Quran everyday and doing charitable acts.

As a mother of three little kids and breastfeeding, fasting can be quite a challenge. As the kids don’t understand the strain that fasting has on the body, they still need to be fed, entertained and catered to while running on a very low energy. There are however, some hacks and tricks that you can have under your sleeve that will help you facilitate the process of fasting and provide more time towards your Ramadan goals and strengthen the connection between you and the Creator.

The best advice I got from a friend for Ramadan is to meal prep.  Having your veggies and meats already prepared in advance saves tremendous amount of time and hardship when you are fasting but have to feed your little kids. The kids still need to eat through out the day and one might need to spend more time in the kitchen during Ramadan than one may think. If we can make life easier especially while fasting than why not do it!

Get to organize what and where you will give to charity before hand. That might entail making a list of things you need to buy or give away and to whom or what charities you need to give to.

Fasting before Ramadan starts will help your body and mind adjust to not eating and drinking for the whole day before the holy month begins.Breastfeeding brings a whole new level of difficulties while fasting so seeing if I can fast before Ramadan is definitely a must for me.

Another challenge during Ramadan is your little kids inability to comprehend the aspects of fasting. However, there are a couple things you can do that can help your children understand that Ramadan is a special month. Decorations can be fun for you and your kids. Having the house filled with lanterns, lights, patterns and much more will definitely ignite excitement among the children. I bought a children’s book about Ramadan and I read it for bed time, no joke, everyday, so far no complains.

If you are living in the Middle East/ North Africa (I don’t know how Egyptian classify themselves geographically but that’s another topic of it’s own),than you know that Ramadan will be in the summer (summer heat starts in May and last until late August) and going out during day time can be difficult while fasting. However, the kids still need to be entertained, so what should one do? Minnie pools are always fun! They can play for a couple of hours in the pool and you can just relax next to them and catch up on the Quran readings. Some time throughout the day, you might find that you want to take a nap especially in very extreme hot places, a busy box is a way to go. There are a tones of busy box ideas on the net, just browse busy box ideas and you will find endless results.

This is probably the only time you want your kids to start going to bed later at night. You don’t want your children to wake up bright and early in the morning when you are running on 3 hours of sleep and have to fast throughout the day. That would be just, for lack of better words, hell!

These are some ideas I am sharing with you with the experience I have with my little kids. I would love to hear some tricks that you might have to prepare for Ramadan. Major advice before hand will be much appreciate it!

Happy Ramadan to all!

 

 

 

 

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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.