Naturally with American Bedu’s blog focus on Saudi Arabia, during the holy month of Ramadan I like to feature more posts about Ramadan and its traditions. With this posts, I’d like to encourage Muslim readers from within Saudi Arabia and around the rest of the world to share what their daily life is like during Ramadan. How, if any, does their life change specifically during the month of Ramadan.
In the case of my late husband and I, we practiced Ramadan a little differently depending where we were, especially since several of our Ramadan’s were while we were living in the United States.
While in the United States I believed there were greater challenges presented as a fasting Muslim. Unlike Saudi Arabia or other predominant countries, where eateries are closed during fasting hours, in America it is business as usual. It took a little bit of getting used to smelling and seeing the various food as well the people eating throughout the day but with strength and perseverance, you adapt and fast even among the temptations! One can still attend business meetings and lunches where food or beverages are served and abstain while encouraging non-Muslims to partake and enjoy.
Because Abdullah worked at the Saudi Embassy in Washington while in the States, he was fortunate in that his workdays were shortened. They were not as short as a day if he had been in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan but it was much easier for him than a typical eight hour day.
Since he would usually arrive home before me during Ramadan, he’d actually get our iftar started. He’d have the dates prepared, the coffee on and generally a light soup started. By the time I got in from work it was usually time to break the fast. After the initial breaking of the fast with dates and having some soup, I’d then pick up where Abdullah left off in preparation of the rest of the meal. We always avoided heavy foods during Ramadan. Abdullah liked for me to prepare a variety of simple and small dishes instead.
In the morning prior to fasting, we’d get up and I’d prepare our suhoor. Abdullah liked to have a full and satisfying Saudi breakfast with shashooka, foul and white cheese with na’an. I’d generally have a few dates with orange juice and water.
We did not stay up all hours of the night. We did not sleep through the day. For the most part we went about our usual routines albeit a little slower and quieter.
The Ramadan’s while in Saudi Arabia were different and I would describe them as more formal. First, it was much easier to concentrate on fasting with both condensed work hours and no eateries being opened or being exposed to others who were eating during fasting hours.
The majority of our iftar’s were spent with family or close friends so they were on a larger scale with more preparation. It certainly helped to have a housemaid who assisted in the preparations too. Additionally I generally had ample time to prepare iftar.
After iftar and evening prayers, we’d usually settle in front of the tv to watch the popular Ramadan tv series, Tash ma Tash. After Tash ma Tash family members would either choose to go to the local mosque for additional prayers or continue with visits to other family and friends.
The first two weeks of Ramadan many business remained open so Abdullah and I maintained a quasi-regular schedule. We did not stay up all night and just like in America, we’d arise early so I could fix us a suhoor. However, once we were both off work for the final days of Ramadan, leading up to Eid al Fitr, we generally left Riyadh for my mother-in-law’s home in Makkah. Once there, it was easy to get caught up in a “partying atmosphere” of Ramadan. We’d easily have 50 – 70 members for iftar. Most family members would stay up through the night until suhoor during which a large and sumptuous meal would be served. Many, especially the children and teens, would sleep until around 4pm.
However, my mother-in-law and I along with a few other family members would generally continue to rise early in the mornings. That was a cherished time. My mother-in-law would read aloud from the Quran and then we’d start work together on early preparations for another large iftar. I loved sitting on the floor with her with a table cloth beneath us while we made and then rolled out the dough for her special sambosas. During those times she’d share with me about iftar’s and Ramadan’s past when Abdullah was but a young child. Those were some of our bonding experiences which I’ll never forget.
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