x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Holy month a refresher course for true Islam

During Ramadan, one is obliged to reconnect with family, make amends with friends or acquaintances one may have previously hurt or quarrelled with, and get in touch with one's neighbours.

Ramadan is like a "refresher course". It takes me back to the core Muslim traits from which I may have deviated during the rest of the year.

During Ramadan, one is obliged to reconnect with family, make amends with friends or acquaintances one may have previously hurt or quarrelled with, and get in touch with one's neighbours.

The act of fasting is meant to make us feel both sympathy and empathy towards the poor and the unfortunate by feeling their hunger and thirst. This experience is quite humbling.

This is the reason charity is usually synonymous with Ramadan, as it is the month of giving.

My Ramadan begins with my father waking me before fajr prayer, for our last meal before the fast begins, known as suhoor. The overwhelming aroma of the freshly prepared Arabian gahwa, or coffee, fills the house.

My family gathers for the light snack, then everybody sets off for the day until it is time to gather again for the maghrib prayer and iftar.

Normally, we would break our fast with a few dates and some buttermilk, and then we're off to pray.

My father would always inquire about where we are on our khatma, which is the completion of reading the Quran.

He would always tease us that he's ahead of us, and would urge us to increase our reading and try to complete as many khatmas as possible in the holy month.

After iftar, it's time for isha prayer and the taraweeh prayers that are only held in Ramadan. We're off to the mosque where we always run into friends and family members.

After that, it's dinner time. My family gathers for dinner and some chit-chat.

The smells of Arabian gahwa along with the burning incense oud create an intoxicating aroma, filling us with the joy of celebrating the end of a successful fasting day as we retire to bed.

Ramadan is definitely better for me in a Muslim country. I've had to spend three Ramadans in Munich, Germany and it wasn't the same. With no call for prayer, no Ramadan spirit, no Ramadan feasts, the soul of Ramadan is lost.

Ramadan can only be truly celebrated and felt within a Muslim community.

Ramadan is not just about the hareesh (boiled, cracked and coarsely ground wheat and meat) or the lgaimat (sweet and sour dumplings), it's about trying to be the best person you could ever be.

Ayesha Hamad Al Hameli, 27, is a master's graduate from Abu Dhabi.