x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Special month that warms my heart

The most precious moments are right before, during and right after we hear the sunset call to prayer.

It's that time of the year when you get caffeine-withdrawal coupled with induced migraines and the clock ticks so slowly. Every year, on the eve of Ramadan, I reflect on the last 12 months. I ask myself the same questions: "Have I been kind? Have I wronged anyone? Is anyone upset with me? Have I been a good daughter and sister? Have I given good advice to my younger cousins?"

All those questions lead to the same broader question: "Have I been good in the last year?"

During Ramadan, Islam emphasises the importance of family and community and in this day and age, scheduling a time to meet with your loved ones is much harder than anyone would like due to changes in our society.

Looking past the obvious religious aspects of Ramadan, this month allows families and friends to reconnect over numerous iftars or suhoors.  The social aspect and the way a community reconnects each year during Ramadan really warms my heart and makes this holy month very special to me.

The most precious moments are right before, during and right after we hear the sunset call to prayer.  In those last few moments of fasting, everything seems so serene amid the pre-iftar rush from the kitchen to the dining room.

Everyone in the house comes together to make sure the food is fully prepared, that we have distributed food to our neighbours, that the table has been set, and the Quran being recited on Abu Dhabi TV can be heard throughout the house.

Being part of a family of "grown-ups" that go to work or study abroad means that shared meals around our dining table are a luxury.

In this ever so busy world, iftar is one of the only times we get to share a meal as a family, even if it lasts a simple 15 minutes before someone leaves the table for prayer.

Those 15 minutes before and after we break our fast, with the dates that my father has passed around and the soup my mother has placed in front of everyone, makes you realise how important your family and friends are.

The only question I ask myself then is: "What can I do from now on to become a better person for my family, my community and before God?"

* Haif Zamzam, 24, from Abu Dhabi, is a senior analyst at Masdar Capital