My two favorite parts of Ramadan

Ramadan is officially over.

I’ll say the experience of being in the region during Ramadan was an interesting one. I’m grateful I was here for it and extra grateful I was able to experience the holiday with a Muslim family.   I feel like I really got in there and grabbed a hold of the whole sha-bang being surrounded by so many locals to the region. I don’t know if other expats had that privilege.

My 2 favorite parts of Ramadan:

1. Iftar: The feast that breaks the fast at sunset. I loved this part. Mostly because I love eating.

The grocery stores before Eid
The grocery store before Eid

Also because, like I said in the beginning, there’s something about being around starving people getting ready to eat that’s really special. The only thing that matters is the food. Then the people. And  lastly phones, TV, and emails.  All focus is on the meal and the people enjoying it with you. I really loved this.  I’m a major advocate for eating dinner slowly, with no televisions or phones. Not rushing through the meal. Even if you’re eating alone. .

When I was younger, I never liked when my mom ate dinner alone in the kitchen. For whatever reason it made me sad. Now that I’m older and eat dinner alone all the time I understand her.  Of course I don’t think my mom would have ever changed having my company at the table rather than being alone, but I now understand why it didn’t bother her.

Even when you’re in the company of others. I’m a huge encourager of taking your time with the meal. Taking your time with the conversations and people around you.

For example, when I lived in the Dominican Republic and would go to eat at a restaurant the waiter would never bring me my tab. I would have to ask for it. For them, it’s rude to bring a tab to the table and make you feel rushed to finish and leave.

One time in the Dominican Republic, my friend and I went to a little restaurant on the beach and sat down to a dinner and told each other we would wait to ask for the tab all night and see of the waiter would eventually bring it to us. The restaurant was busy, there was definitely a wait for tables. 4 hours passed. He didn’t even act like us still being there was strange. He came to the table and chatted with us and laughed with us and brought us more water and made us feel special from the moment we sat down until the moment we left. Never felt rushed out. It was a fabulous feeling. One of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in my life.

We should take notes from Dominican’s, they’re the happiest people I’ve ever met. And they never rush through meals. They never rush through anything really. Not one time was I on the phone or watching TV while having dinner in the Dominican Republic. It’s a beautiful thing and Ramadan in Dubai brought me back to that feeling a little.

2. Religiously Religious people: Seeing religious people was my 2nd favorite part about Ramadan. In the states I feel like no one really wants to just come out and be all religious. Praise Jesus! I think people are shy about it. You know, what if that person you’re talking to doesn’t believe the same things you do? You better not tell them to praise the lord! Or maybe they don’t think I like talking about religion so I’m the only one in the states who feels this way. Who knows.

An example will help me explain.

So, for example, that whole shin dig about not being able to say the pledge of allegiance in school anymore because the word God is used. Or not being able to tell people “Merry Christmas!” because lord have mercy you accidentally tell someone who’s not Christian. I mean give me a break. I LOVE that the states has so many freedoms. This is fantastic. But I hate how they make religion constrained in a way.  By trying so hard to allow all religions to feel welcomed in the States I feel like they’ve taken away the beauty of just openly believing in one.

During Ramadan the Muslims really represent! Proudly. But they don’t judge people that aren’t Muslim. Muslims that I work with told me from day one of Ramadan not to feel bad about drinking or eating in front of them because I’m not Muslim, and I shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not what I believe. I can be Christian and believe what I want and not feel judged at all and they can be Muslim and believe what they want and not be judged at all. Freedom of religion in a sense.

But they continue following their beliefs not matter who’s around or where they are or who they’re talking to.  If they want to pray right here, right now in the middle of the office they will. That’s what they believe and that’s what they want, so they do it. No matter what kinds of believers are around. I love that. No shame in their game.

Why this was so prominent during Ramadan was because the entire holiday is a religion. People told me, the Christian, “Ramadan Kareem” and “Eid Mubarek” rather than the cheesy line American’s have to use around Christmas: “Happy Holidays”.  And I felt happiness when people told me “happy Eid”. I felt happy because here these people are, happily spreading their happiness with me. This doesn’t mean I’m Muslim, this just means I’m enjoying their time celebrating. I enjoy just watching a powerful group of believers. This makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. And pumped up excited for some reason I’m unaware of.

Prayer at the Mosque
Prayer at the Mosque

Having said all this I have to admit, by the end of the holiday I was very ready to get back to normal. Eating, drinking, music, restaurants, people, were all things I was starting to miss… a lot.

The end of Ramadan is called Eid. Again, I’m the worst at background and meaning of all the words and explanations of everything. I would hate to get anything wrong so I altogether avoid trying to get into any kind of deep explanations. I know, I’m lame… and lazy.

Anyways, Wafiq and I went to Bahrain to celebrate Eid.

Bahrain from the rooftop
Bahrain from the rooftop

No one works for a couple days so we felt like we had to go do something. Why not hop on over to Bahrain. Such a cool little baby country. Not literally. Literally, it’s HOT. And when I was there it was smoking hot and drenching humid. I did a lot of staying in and watching movies.  Which I’m going to continue having to do for another month in Dubai. It’s HOT here. And humid.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 5.34.12 PM

It’s so hot that while in Bahrain I looked out the car window and saw the most beautiful sunset. I so desperately wanted to keep that moment in my memory so I stuck my camera out the window to take a picture….

No filter
No filter

The very second I did that the camera lens fogged up and this is what photo I got stuck with.  Needless to say, I’ll be a happy camper when August is over. I’m ready for the nice Dubai weather to come back into existence 🙂

To conclude on this glorious post, with Ramadan being over I’m hoping to be out and about a bit more. I’m hoping to write more often too. I’ve noticed last month I was extremely boring, only writing about the horrors in my life, also know as Shingles.  That must have been encouraging to read.  I’m hoping my August month posts are budding of exciting photo’s and stories! Stay tuned 🙂

Bahrain
Bahrain

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