ABU DHABI // Alia Al Jaberi will always remember her first Ramadan fasting.
Not because the fast was long or the July days so hot. For Alia, 8, what matters is that this will be the first holy month she will participate in as an adult. “I want to be a woman,” the young girl says, as she readies herself for prayer and iftar at her family’s home in Abu Dhabi.
For Alia, the coming days are the start of a journey to the heart of her cultural roots and traditions.
The early morning rise for suhoor and the long wait for sunset are part of the experience and joy of her faith.
“This is hard,” she admits, “when you are fasting. Sometimes I fast the whole day and sometimes a half-day because it’s 15 hours.
“When I eat suhoor, I drink milk and dates to help me be patient for the day.”
Alia is allowed to stay up until Al Fajar prayer, then heads for bed. Her mother is happy with the arrangement because school has finished for the summer.
When asked about for her favourite thing about Ramadan, Alia says: “The iftar meal, because when I am hungry I can eat and eat lots of different kinds of foods.”