In a couple of days, the entire Muslim community around the world will observe the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is the time for fasting in commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. For us here in the Gulf region, things will slow down (if not a complete halt) as work hours go shorter, liquor will be completely prohibited, and eating or drinking publicly will not be allowed. But apart from these, what does Ramadan really mean to me? Recently, fellow Food and Travel Blogger Rachel (LifeontheWedge) shared what Ramadan means to her and I’d like to share how my view of Ramadan has changed over the years that I’ve been in Qatar.
This year will be my 9th time to experience Ramadan being here in Doha. I remember a few years back, I used to loathe it as it was an absolute bore-fest. Aside from just being at home a little over lunch time, I have nothing left to do. Most of the time, I’d just sleep the afternoon away or binge-watch my series til late night. The same routine every day until Eid holidays come.
But like most things, I eventually got used to it. As I stayed longer in this country that I call my temporary home since 2009, I’ve slowly learned the ropes of maximizing my time during Ramadan and more importantly, learn something new. It has been a productive month since then.
Among all things that I’ve learned while observing Ramadan, RESPECT tops my list. For most non-Muslim, this month will be restrictive but for me, it highlights the value of Respect. Religion has always been a sticky topic to discuss and has been a cause of the conflicts we have today. But as Ramadan approaches, I look forward to more people to be more respectful, exercise a little more compassion and understand that our differences are what makes the world an interesting place to live.
In 2011, I joined a friend in fasting to satisfy that curiosity of how our Muslim brethren undergo. It was tough and on most days, I will have to force myself to sleep until Iftar comes to escape hunger and conserve my energy. But what I learned is that it is through pain (be it temporary like fasting) that you become more sensitive to your emotions and your environment. My intention might be completely different to why am I fasting but the lesson learned while undergoing a month of abstinence is as valuable.
Charity and Compassion
In 2012, I started taking part of Iftar drive and other charity activities. Qatar Volunteers hold its Annual Iftar drive and they are always on the look out of a new volunteer. Why not spend your idle afternoon more meaningful and be of service to others?
Try something New
Despite the scorching heat, Ramadan might be a good time for you to try things you haven’t done. As they say, Time+Productivity= Success. Perhaps it’s a high time to engage in a new hobby or explore Qatar you haven’t been to.
It was during Ramadan in 2012 that my friends and I decided to visit the Singing Sand Dunes and in 2013, the Musafir sink hole. While it might sound crazy to endure the heat, it is all well spent and ended up on the beach, camping overnight.
While most of us are busy all year long with our corporate jobs, Ramadan might be that window where we have lesser workload and a time to explore Qatar (if you haven’t been to). It might be a tiny city state but surely, there are a few gems that you might find interesting and worth visiting.
One of the highlights of my Ramadan every year is sharing Iftar with friends. It has been a tradition from my CouchSurfing friends to organize an Annual Iftar and everyone can have theirs too.
If you’ve been still struggling to shed off that extra pounds, Ramadan might be that time to jump start your weight loss journey. There are a number of sports activities lined up during this month to promote a healthier lifestyle (especially during the month of fasting).
This year, I look forward to being more productive and accomplish more. Gone are the days that Ramadan to me means afternoon nap and binge-watching but rather, Ramadan is a season of self-discovery and productivity.
How do you plan to spend your Ramadan this year? Do you have any activities you want to try?