I checked on my Ramadan calendar and then I just realized that today is already the 28th day of Ramadan. Sadly, we are now reaching the end of Ramadan. For anyone who doesn’t know what Ramadan is and why do the Moslems fast during Ramadhan, I will try to put an excerpt from the Qur’an about the order to fast during Ramadan.
“The month of Ramadan, in which the Qur’an was brought down, a guidance for the people, and clarification of the guidance and the criterion. Therefore, those of you who witness the month shall fast it. And those who are ill or traveling, then an equal number of other days. Allah wants ease for you, and He does not want hardship for you, and so that you may complete the count, and to exalt Allah for guiding you, and that you may be thankful.” -Qur’an Surah Al-Baqarah : 185
It might sound strange for the one who is not familiar with it. For example, here in Portugal, I met several friends who don’t know Ramadan and some don’t know what does fasting mean. It will take more than one blog post to talk about the importance of Ramadan and why do Moslems have to fast during Ramadan (in short, studying the excerpt from the Qur’an above). But no worry, if you are curious enough, please check some links at the bottom of this blog post.
While talking about fasting during the day, most of my friends here said it must have been hard for me. 17 hours without eating and drinking. How do I say about it? I won’t say it is not hard because it is indeed hard, but the expression “it feels different” might suits my Ramadan experience in Portugal. This year is the first time I really have a full Ramadan in another country than Indonesia. I “ran away” to Indonesia last year. Luckily, I ran away because Portugal was around 30-40C during last year’s Ramadan. OMG!
As you might know, there is a big Moslem population in Indonesia and Ramadan atmosphere is everywhere in the country. Indonesians have this habit to make a gathering for breaking the fast. Not only Moslem celebrate this break fasting habit during Ramadan, but also the non Moslem joining this gathering in Indonesia. Somehow this break-fasting gathering turns to be a reunion with old friends. Sounds so much fun, right? That’s why we love it! If you happen to end up in Indonesia during Ramadan, don’t be shocked to find some restaurants are closed during the day and fully-booked starting from 5PM (We break the fast at approx. 6 PM in Indonesia).
On the other hands, TV are completely full of Islamic shows. From the full-of-annoying-and-stupid-jokes shows during Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal before we start our fast) until Islamic drama series. I guess this year’s Ramadan in Indonesia is also full of talks and discussions about Indonesian presidential election, right?😆
How about Ramadan in Portugal?
I consider myself “lucky”. I experience Ramadan in summer. Summer means a longer daytime and this year’s Ramadan is for approx 17 hours of fasting. WOW! Yeah, WOW! I thought it might have been hard for me. How would I survive without eating and drinking for 17 hours??!!! But then…
I was wrong. Until now, I survive! Ramadan is not only about refraining myself from not eating and drinking during the day, but also other “bad” things. There are several taboos that are prohibited or suggested not to be done during the Ramadan. In the meantime, Ramadan is a chance to purify our self and do more good deeds such as reading the Qur’an, donating money or stuffs to the poor, etc. Even other small good deeds to people in our surrounding :”) Not to mention, I still exercise at the gym while fasting but not as rigorous as I used to. Instead of feeling demotivated, I feel so energized!
The first praying time (Subuh/Fajr) in Portugal is at 4.10AM so I have to have my suhoor before that time. Then, I break my fast at 9 PM and I usually go to the mosque with Martha (once with my friends from Morocco, Egypt, and Somalia). Unlike the 3-minute walking distance mosque from my house in Indonesia, this mosque is 6-metro-stop away from my apartment in Porto. There are two mosques in Porto and only one in Heroismo that allows women to pray there.
The mosque give free meals for break fasting. Alhamdulillah :”) At first, they serve a (big) bowl of Moroccan soup, dates, mineral water, and milk –and sometimes, apples. I usually break my fast by drinking one bottle of water and eating plenty of dates (I used to hate those super sweet dates! Dunno why, those dates at the mosque are not that sweet.) then we pray Maghreb together with an imam leads our praying. After the pray, we eat our soup. It is suggested by Rasulullah Muhammad SAW for breaking the fast with something sweet and not directly eat the main meal so that our body can adapt well after the long hour of fasting. At around 10PM, the main meal is served! I am a huge fan of the Middle East cuisines. I guess the mosque chef is either from Morocco, Egypt, or any other African Moslem countries. My diet is at stake whenever I eat at the mosque: I never never never be able to resist those foods, haha. My most favorite menu is a chicken curry that tastes like Indonesian “ayam bumbu rujak” OOOO DELICOUS-OOOOOO. While waiting for Isya’ praying, we usually read the Qur’an or chit-chating (yeah, women’s habit). The women I usually meet at the mosque come from Morocco, Egypt, Iran, or African countries. Once there is a woman from a Russian Federation country called Caucasus. Most of them speak Arabic (except Iranian who speak Persian). I cursed myself for my almost-vanished Arabic skill for this because I understood almost nothing when they were talking. So sad :”(
Surprisingly, the hardest things for me is not during the fasting time, but during the night. Taraweeh praying finishes at midnight. Once, I tried to stay awake until Suhoor and Fajr but then I ended up catching a cold. That’s why I usually take a two-hour sleep before suhoor. I put my alarm on its maximum volume. Moreover, I usually sleep 4 up to 5 hours after dinner. While during Ramadan, I finish my dinner at 10.30 PM but then I have to sleep at the latest 1PM. Only 2.5 hours gap! What a challenge, haha!
I only feel the Ramadan atmosphere inside the mosque. It is completely different than what happen in Indonesia. But I didn’t say that I don’t like it. As I told you before, it is different yet I ENJOY IT! A lot! I have stories and experiences to tell to, I meet many friends at the mosque, I break my fasting with Moslems from different countries (with different habit during Ramadan and also different praying clothes), I have the chance to introduce what Ramadan is to my friends here, and many more that I feel grateful of during this Ramadan. Alhamdulillah :”)
This Ramadan is without “mudik” (Indonesian term for coming to our hometown to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr after Ramadan) and sadly, without my family in Solo and the most-awaited “sego liwet” (One of the typical foods in my hometown. A must try!). But I still have my new family in Portugal, especially this year will be my first time celebrating the Eid at the Indonesian embassy in Lisbon.
I hope to see you again next year, Ramadan. Let’s see what kind of surprise is waiting for me next year: where and with whom I will celebrate Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr. I am looking forward to it!
 The fasting of Ramadhan. Taken from here.
 Ramadan: the Burner of the Sins. Taken from here.
 Why do Moslems Fast? Taken from here.