x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

'My passion for this month is as warm as the weather'

'My family, friends and I usually spend Ramadan competing to finish reading the Quran first'.

A couple of weeks ago at work, an American colleague and I were having a typical conversation, complaining about the weather and how day after day the heat becomes more unbearable.

Then, after grumbling and coming up with clever ideas on "how to cool ourselves off", he sympathetically remarked: "I can't believe you guys will be fasting in this heat."

My response was that I have been waiting for this month patiently, regardless of the weather.

Then he started asking me some curious questions on why I seemed to be so content about being deprived of food and water? His curiosity impressed me, since not many ask me questions about my religion, thinking it may be a faux pas - although it is the complete opposite.

I started explaining to him the religious facets of Ramadan and how fasting is a way for us to appreciate what we already have and learn to give to others in need; that personally, Ramadan is a month to train myself not be so tied to materialistic things and not let the absence of food and water make me a cranky person with others, especially without the cup of coffee that many, including me, are attached to for fuel.

I explained that fasting is insignificant if we do not maintain a proper and respectable personality.

Ramadan is a month when all of my extended family and friends put their busy lives on hold, their grudges and conflicts aside, to gather at one table eating iftar together, thanking Allah for all the blessings we already have and humbly asking for brighter days to come.

Ramadan is a guest that modestly knocks on our doors for 30 days, reminding us we are all good people to start with and that the doors of repentance are open for forgiveness.

My family, friends and I usually spend Ramadan competing to finish reading the Quran first, attending lectures and practising philanthropy together through volunteering our time and effort.

After this long discussion, heated with my passion for this dear month and patience from my colleague, I discovered it is unimportant if Ramadan comes in summer or in winter as long as I am alive and it passes me by showering me with its blessing.

My colleague, on the other hand, promised not to eat in public before iftar, not out of fear of being fined, but out of the sanctity for this month and respect for us as Muslims.

 

Deenah Al Hashemi, 20, from Dubai, is a student of international relations at Zayed University Dubai.