The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness.
It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting.
The period of fasting days is based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
In 2018, Ramadan started on May 17 and will conclude on June 15.
Saudi Arabia during the holy month of Ramadan is one of my favourite times of the year. It is difficult to describe, but I will try.
The city slows down / grinds to a halt during daylight hours and while the selfish part of me enjoys faster commute times out on Riyadhs’ ordinarily clogged streets, I love the vibe… people practicing kindness, introspection and a recalibration of our sense of self.
Reduced work hours, shops closed, it reminds me of Sunday afternoon in Australia… quiet and contemplative.
Am I making sense? Maybe it can’t be described and it’s more a feeling?
I feel a clarity of mind, a hollowness in my tummy and despite thirst and hunger I feel “satisfied”.
The Iftar (breaking of the fast) parties are beautiful, it’s the one time of year I place ZERO restriction on date consumption… exquisite, succulent dates the consistency of marshmallows… plain, stuffed with pistachio or macadamia, I’m not fussy just let me eat dates!! But most importantly people are just kind. And those who know me know how much I love kind.
Friday May 18 I truely witnessed the kind factor, the spirit of Ramadan was alive in our neighbourhood and it was just wonderful.
Our compound has a Feed the Need fridge (FtN KSA) across the road that we fill each day for those less fortunate in our community, many of whom are fasting at this time of the year. Temperatures are approaching 46 degrees this week so the need for fresh fruit and in particular water is real.
Under the guidance of our incredible FtN leader Shabnam, we provided over 110 home cooked meals to our neighbours that live in cramped conditions in nearby apartment buildings - men from Yemen, Pakistan and India mostly and they were so appreciative… the elderly, young people, brown, black, white, christian, muslim, hindu, atheist, men, women… alll together on the road outside our local dry cleaner, the fridge overflowing with kindness - Saudi’s stopping in their cars to observe and express their gratitude and enquire as to how they can become involved… there were no expats / locals on the roadside that day.
What brought me joy… beside the tangible fact that we fed so many men a healthy meal it was the sense of community and togetherness.. residents from all walks of life, all corners of the globe sharing the experience as the sun set.
Saudi is a country of incredible contrasts - inconceivable wealth, very real and visible poverty and those of us in between.
Everyone can be kind no matter what your circumstances. Thank you to the Pakistani man that expressed heartfelt thanks to my teenager handing out food - you opened her eyes a little bit wider that day.
And now as I prepare to fly to Australia so full of excitement and so ready to reconnect with friends and family, there’s also a little part of me that is sad I won’t be here for the final day of Ramadan on June 15.
Eid Mubarak to all my muslim friends and may we all continue the quest to be kind.