Join the magical experience of my 1st Ramadan in the Middle East... The good, bad and blissful delight.
The magic of the Middle East really shines during the Ramadan holiday. Ramadan observes as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammad. Although I don’t practice Islam, I participated in the fasting. In Kuwait, everyone is required to observe the rules of fasting in public, this means no eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Ramadan observes as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammad.
The first morning was definitely an adjustment. I woke up too early and struggled to rest before having to finally get out of bed and begin getting ready for work. The buses left our flats at 7:50 a.m., there was almost no traffic which made our ride only about twenty-five minutes. The workday wasn’t bad either, the students took their first final exam which was only one hour. The next three hours we spent cleaning out our work areas preparing to exit the building for the year. The buses to go home arrived at one o’ clock p.m. and we left campus a quarter past the hour. I slept on the bus ride home because I was very hot and drained even though I hadn’t done much during the day. When we arrived at our flats, I went back to sleep and slept until just before Iftar, the breakfast meal to end the day’s fasting.
Week one wasn’t so bad, although I did have to adjust to a dramatic change in my work and eating schedule. This year, Ramadan began on Monday, May 6, it does not always begin at the same time each year. The date changes with the sighting of the crescent moon, usually Ramadan begins about 10 days prior to the start of the previous year. We left for work at 8 o clock am, the commute is generally about 25 minutes depending on traffic and our daily start time was 9 am. This was perfect because the start of Ramadan also began finals this year. The students would come only for testing which would last no more than one and a half hours depending on the test. Once the students were gone for the day the teachers were able to mark and prepare for the end of the year moving. Our days ended at one o clock pm, buses left campus at a quarter past one and we were home by two o clock pm every day. When I came home I was so drained. Not from long work hours but from the sun.
The sun literally feels like it’s sitting in my lap...
The summer in the Middle East begins around late April. During the ride home the sun literally feels like it’s sitting in my lap holding a very unwarranted intimate conversation. Again no food and no water definitely don’t help the process. I felt like I was cheating myself of the full experience because I would come home and immediately take a nap until about five thirty or six o clock pm, when I woke it would be in just enough time for break fast. It took me some time to get the hang of the proper protocol for breakfast but I eventually got it. Fasting ends with a quick prayer, dates and water, then there is a soup followed by the main course. It reminded me a lot of my Southern Baptist upbringing when my grandmother would fast every Wednesday until noon. I remember fasting with her was so intense, we literally couldn’t do anything or eat anything but we could have water. There was no specific way of breaking the fast but I vividly remember my grandmother and aunt having their coffee and catching up on the latest hot topics.
As the weeks continued I lost focus and didn't make it through fasting for the entire month, however, I had a solid first two weeks the last two weeks were patchy but I gave an effort. I had great times bonding with my friends and building new relationships. I found the month of Ramadan to be very calming and reflective. I found clarity in some ideas I had been toiling with and most importantly I found peace. Overall I think I found what I was seeking to find in the experience of Ramadan.