Comments on Ramadan
As I sit drafting an article about Ramadan I find myself distracted by statements I have heard about Ramadan in the last few years. I thought I would take a break from that article to write this one and share those thoughts with you. They are poignant introductions.
I was sitting at the desk of our utility company a day before Ramadan started. The Omani woman behind the desk was chatting with me as we waited for her computer to load. I asked her if she was ready for Ramadan. She smiled and said, “I love my friends and we have lots of fun, but Ramadan is the only time of year that we don’t gossip. Our lives are full of gossip. I love gossip as much as any girl, but I really look forward to Ramadan because it is time that we all choose to be kind and none of us choose to gossip. The break is really nice.”
I was in the living room of an American soldier and I mentioned that Ramadan was about to start. He glanced away a moment; he was remembering something fondly. He explained that as a soldier he always knew the exact moment when Ramadan started on the battlefields. In this distance you could hear fire, but then the guns would go silent, the battle would stop, and the days would be quiet.
My friends and I were looking for a market in town and we got a bit lost in a neighborhood. It was about 30 minutes before Iftar (the breaking of the daily fast). We pulled over and asked a gentleman and his wife for directions. He said, “It’s time to break the fast, please come in to our home, you will be safe, you can eat the with women, but you must celebrate with us. After, I will take you where you need to go.” Unfortunately, we were late to meet others and couldn’t stay. We had to decline, but he insisted that we not leave without food. He reached into his grocery bag and handed us a fresh bunch of grapes through the window, excused himself from his wife and got in his silver Porsche to lead us half the way so we would no longer be lost. When he thought we were in the clear he pulled over, explained the rest of the trip to our driver and insisted we come to Iftar later in the week. He gave us his business card, bid us farewell, and wished us safety and peace.
There are many things I do not yet understand about the traditions of Ramadan. One thing I know for certain is that this is a time of peace, of kindness, and of giving.