Celebrating Ramadan in Ireland (Part 2)
As the second part of our Ramadan in Ireland blog series, our Student Ambassador Sameerah Almalki offers her advice for student’s celebrating Ramadan in Ireland.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which fasting from desires, as well as food, is observed from sunrise to sunset. Fasting Ramadan is the fourth of five pillars and is something everyone should experience in a Muslim country, whether a Muslim or not. The atmosphere of the country usually changes during this holy month.
Studying abroad in Ireland during Ramadan was a different and new experience for me because I fasted in a Muslim country my whole life. Last year I was not happy about having to fast Ramadan in Ireland, and it was not even my choice but had to because of the course I was doing. However, I loved this experience and in this post, I am going to tell you about five reasons why this year I chose to repeat the experience here in Ireland although I could spend it home.
First, the weather this time of year in Ireland is so nice and mild, which makes fasting much easier and keeps the body more energetic to work than if the weather was hot like at home. Although the day at home is about fourteen hours and here it is nineteen hours, it is still easier for me as the temperature difference is big. It is usually about 40 C over there during the summer.
Second, my Ramadan plan is more likely to succeed here as I will have much more time on my own. That is because the social life is quieter here during this holy month, while at home I would be visiting relatives and having people over very often. And for me as a student, there is also more time to work during the day as I will not do any cooking before eight o’clock.
Third, there is an International Iftar, which is the first meal Muslim have at sunset during Ramadan. The Islamic Center in Cork offers food at sunset for Muslims to break their fasting meal, and all Muslim or non-Muslim are welcome. It is a unique experience to share this great moment for Muslims to break their fasting after nineteen hours, in one meal with many different people from different cultures and different foods, Irish, German, Arabic, Nigerian and more. Sometimes it looks like an international food festival. Some are non-Muslim, and they are just interested in sharing, and that is amazing and cannot be experienced at home.
Fourth, I believe that in Ramadan, one reason why we are fasting is that our souls and bodies need to relax and have some time off from the busy life pressure. Regarding souls, we tend to focus more on ourselves and meditate over the big picture of our existence in this massive and great universe by reading the Holy Quran. Regarding the body, our stomach and intestines work hard the whole year, and I believe that they deserve some time to rest. This is one of the important reasons that make the long hours of fasting much less exhausting even when the day is quite long during Ramadan.
Fifth, Eid Alfitr is the first day after Ramadan when Muslims celebrate the accomplishment of fasting during the whole month of Ramadan, thanking Allah for enabling them to complete their fasting. Usually the more challenges you face, the happier you are when you meet them. If the fasting here seems more difficult than home, for me, it means I am happier here during Eid.
In addition, experiencing the Eid here is just as wonderful as experiencing the Iftar. Many people from different nationalities and backgrounds celebrate Eid together but differently at the same time, which also cannot be observed home. Although I miss my family in such an occasion, we are aware that we will be here temporarily, and we will be back home someday, so I think we should make the most of it.
Finally, Wish you great fasting and Iftar.