The Athan (call to prayer) Alarm clock pierced my ears with its sweet sound. It’s officially the first day of Ramadan. The clock read 3:45 AM and it was time to pray Fajr (the morning prayer). Unfortunately suhoor (meal consumed before fasting) is over and therefore I cannot eat anything. Tomorrow I will wake up fifteen minutes earlier in order to eat suhoor and fill my stomach ( I tell myself that every year). Today’s June 29th, I looked out the window and saw the glowing street lights. No sign of daylight. My mouth is parched but I cannot drink water. I made wudu (ablution) and rinsed my mouth three times in the process. I put on my thowb (ankle length garment) and made 2 rakat (cycles) for Fajr prayer.
I woke up exhausted but returned to bed feeling refreshed like a new man. A lot of people sleep most of the day during Ramadan but not I. I laid in bed for a few hours after Fajr and started my day. First I read Quran; there are prayers I’ve been meaning to memorize and now is a good time. The pages of the holy book felt crisp like new although I had it since childhood. I read prayers over & over until I could close my eyes and visualize the ayat (verses) in my mind. The first day of Ramadan started on a Sunday and I still have chores to do before the start of the work week. I mean why not? It’s only 8 AM!
The hours passed by slowly and I began to feel my belly rumble. My stomach was calling for food but I had no taste to eat. At 12 PM I went for a walk before noon prayer. Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day and this practice is especially crucial during The holy month. During my walk, I saw a man asking for change. I live in New York City so it was nothing strange. I normally turn a blind eye but not today, not I, will I be blind. I generously gave the man several dollars and he went on his way giving me much praise. Something has changed. My brain is not the same. I feel clear from negativity and free self indulgence. It’s said that during Ramadan the devil & evil spirits are locked down and hence cannot cause harm. Maybe that’s why I did not hear a whisper in my ear. My body & soul feels at ease.
The midday and afternoon prayer has passed and now we await Maghreb prayer. I am counting the seconds to every minute of every hour anticipating the breaking of my fast. I am very anxious to eat during the last few hours before sundown. I checked my cell and noticed multiple missed calls and text messages all reading Ramadan Kareem (Happy Ramadan). My relatives called me to invite me over for fatoor (Breaking of Fast meal). I gladly accepted the invite and wore my best causal attire before going. I arrived at my relatives home with a tray of baklava. No feast will go well without baklava to compliment it. The door opened and the sweet scent of burning bakhoor overwhelmed my senses.
I could also smell roast lamb and it made me salivate. Magreb time is here and now we can break our fast. On a tray were a bowl of dates, samboosa, sliced cheese and olives. I wanted to shove the fried oily samboosa down my throat but first I must break my fast with a date. The dates are from California but in the back of my mind I believe their imported from the Middle East. After breaking fast we pray. We all rejoiced, foot to foot and made supplication. The kids ran to the kitchen after prayer and I ran shortly after them. Roast leg of lamb, basmati rice, vegetable stew, pasta, chicken and more samboosa on the table. I filled up my plate but could only eat a little. After a few bites I was full and could not eat anymore. I thought I could eat the entire table alone but could barely take a bite. I will eat more later. We laid on the sofa after eating to relax.
It’s been a long day and the night just began. In the Middle East the days become nights during Ramadan. Similar here in the states but we still got summer school n work which can make fasting tedious. We all went to the mosque to perform Esha (Evening) prayer and also Taraweeh. Taraweeh are extra prayers performed every night during Ramadan. My relatives and I normally pray 16 cycles and journey back home after. Once we returned home, my relatives served hot tea with a wide array of desserts including baklava (my favorite).My cell phone rang and I got another invite to spend the night with friends at hookah cafe.
I graciously accepted and we got together communicated about our first day. Now it’s 3 AM and we all went to get sago or from an Middle eastern street vendor by the cafe. We ate in harmony and went our seperate ways. I got home for fajr and I prayed before going to sleep. It’s now 4 AM on a Monday and work starts at 9 AM. This is going to be fun for the next 27 to 28 days.
Happy Ramadan – Ramadan Mubarak
Categories: My thoughts