This is my first Ramadan, at home, in twelve years. For the American readers’ perspective, this is like having Thanksgiving dinner with your family after twelve years absence. However, instead of one dinner it is thirty dinners, or more accurately thirty Iftar (breakfast).
In 2010, I wrote about my Ramadan experience in the USA. Reading it now looks like I was not enjoying the experience. I do not think it was that bad. Maybe I was feeling down when I wrote it. I think the worst part is that you do not get used to spending Ramadan away from home. Ramadan is a time of the year when you should spend it with your family.
Anyway, Ramadan in Jordan is of course much better. The number one reason is family. Besides being a religion obligation, Ramadan month is the most social time of the year. In this month, more than any time of the year people invite each other to break their fast together .
Muslims love this month, it is when most of them feel more connection with their inner goodness. Muslims in this month feel they are more religious than the rest of the year. They fast, pray more and give the poor more. Ramadan is very dear to Muslims because among many other things it gives them a sense of satisfaction. It is a month that Muslims cleanse both their body and their soul.
Nothing new about Ramadan in Jordan except for one new beautiful trend that is the decoration. What a lovely habit that Jordanians picked up to decorate their homes, streets and businesses. Almost every house has Illuminated crescents, celebratory lights and/or lanterns. It looks like the same ‘good’ craziness Americans do preparing for Christmas.
The reasons I love spending Ramadan in Jordan:
- Mosques — In Columbia, MO where I used to live we had only one mosque. Nonetheless, we were fortunate to have a mosque in this small town. However, I like to experience praying in different mosques. I do not like to associate myself to one mosque. Here in Jordan, the situation is very different. I can walk to five different mosques, only five minutes away from home.
- Social life — During Ramadan, after the last prayer of the five daily prayers, we do extra prayer called Tarawih. People in the Middle East and North Africa go out to cafes or visit relatives or friends after Tarawih, which is usually after 10:30 pm. Of course, it helps that business hours change during this month. Therefore, people do not have to wake up early in the morning.
- The Culture — In the USA, people go beyond and above preparing for Christmas. If you are a Christian you would love being in the USA in December. Similarly, as a Muslim I love being in a Muslim country because everything change during Ramadan. The spirituality, the late night visits, the more Iftar (breaking the fast) invitations and the decoration.
- Food — Since people fast for 14 or 16 hours, depending on the place and time of the year, they tend to think of food more. Therefore, people cook more and eat more. You see many more dishes on the table during Iftar.
Although, I am enjoying Ramadan here more than in the United States I have to say I miss my friends and the families that used to invite me to their homes for Iftar. These people become part of your life, kind of a family that you cannot forget.