x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ramadan a time of community spirit for Indonesian expats

Embassy hosts gatherings for taraweeh prayers

ABU DHABI // For Ahmad Chaery and many other of the capital's Indonesian Muslims, Ramadan is a time of greater community spirit.

"We always look forward to this holy month," said the 34-year-old Quran teacher, originally from Jakarta. "We are fulfilling the fourth pillar of Islam, which is fasting."

The other pillars are the shahada or the testimony of faith, salat (prayer), zakat (donating money to the less fortunate), and the Haj pilgrimage.

This year, Mr Chaery is the only member of his family fasting. His wife, Novita Sundari, who works at the Indonesian Embassy, is not as she gave birth a month ago to a baby girl, Sakira Amira. The couple also have a 3-year-old son, Mohammed Dhafa.

Mr Chaery, who teaches 14 boys and girls aged between 5 and 9, is also the head of the Indonesian Muslim community's Ramadan committee this year.

Every Thursday and Friday, they break fast together and gather at the embassy for the nightly taraweeh prayers, a series of prayers offered only during Ramadan. About 150 Indonesians and their families in Abu Dhabi usually attend.

"I have been living here for the past 12 years," said Rahmi Mabrury, 23, an administrative staff member at the Indonesian Investment Promotion Centre in Abu Dhabi. "Those who are spending Ramadan away from their families in Indonesia appreciate these gatherings."

He tries to spend a few days of Ramadan and Eid with his parents, two sisters and three brothers in Jakarta.

"I have many Emirati and Indonesian friends here but it is special when spent with the family," he said.

Nuzulul Quran, the day the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet, is marked on the 17th day of Ramadan with a national holiday in Indonesia. This year, it falls on August 17 but the Indonesian community in Abu Dhabi will celebrate it on August 19 - a Friday.

"We will also organise some Quran recitation competitions for the children," said Mr Mabrury, who is also a member of the Ramadan committee.

"Ramadan is a time for introspection, prayer and fasting," said Wahid Supriyadi, the Indonesian ambassador in the UAE.

"For many years, the embassy has been opening its doors to the Indonesian Muslim community and organising gatherings so that the holy month can be more meaningful."

rruiz@thenational.ae