Over the years, Ramadan has grown to mean different things to me.
Ramadan: a lesson in humility best enjoyed with family
Over the years, Ramadan has grown to mean different things to me. This year, in particular, the month-long spiritual occasion holds a special place in my heart.
For starters, it is the first Ramadan in a long time that I've been able to spend with my loved ones.
After being away at university overseas, for three consecutive years, it certainly feels good to observe the holy month at home, among family and friends. With a hectic university lifestyle and being around people who didn't understand its appeal, the spirit of Ramadan was lost.
To me, it became like any other month, save from the fact I had to abstain from eating and drinking.
Another reason why I love Ramadan is because it is the one month in which Muslims are given the opportunity to double their blessings by performing good deeds and thus, become better human-beings.
The way I look at it, the holy month is like a second chance that God has bestowed upon us to strengthen our ties with Him. Trips to the mosque with my sister for taraweeh are the norm during Ramadan.
Also, it's like a mini-reunion of sorts because I run into neighbours and friends, many of whom I wouldn't usually see.
Fasting from dawn until dusk means we are taught a lesson in humility and how to empathise with those who do not have it easy in life.
It amuses me when people complain about having to work while fasting during summer. That is exactly where the essence of Ramadan lies - to endure the fast, despite all the challenges that are involved.
As a child, I remember how I would fast until noon, after which I couldn't take it anymore and broke my fast. I grew out of that habit eventually. Fasting was something I measured my maturity with; it was an accomplishment to fast for an entire day, let alone an entire month.
Ramadan is also about family time. I love the fact that routine tasks that take up most of our daily activities are put aside and during Iftar, all of us gather at the dining-table.
Of course, now that I am home, this is even more cherished within my family.
Despite how I've grown to love living abroad and perhaps might return some day, one thing is for sure - occasions such as these are best spent among loved ones.
Nahda Suleiman, 24, from Dubai, is a journalism graduate from the University of South Australia.