Before coming here people were so quick to tell us about all of the things WE WOULD NOT be able to do. I am happy to report that many of those things simply are not true. People said I would have to always cover up. Nope. People said we would have to walk on different sides of the road or hallway. Nope. People said we would not be able to hold hands or show affection. Nope.
Our view about being in a Muslim country is this: "Even though we are not Muslim, we will still respect their values and traditions." One of those traditions that has raised our respect is Ramadan. If you're wondering what Ramadan is I'll break it down for you.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim year and Muslims fast from sun up to sun down. That is the meaning in the most simplest terms.
In my classroom my boys love to tell me about their customs and practices because they love for me to tell them about the way I grew up and my values, customs, and practices. So, they told me that it is supposed to be a month of reflection where Muslims try to be the best that they can be. Well, this definition came in handy for me because if someone was not remembering our classroom etiquette I would say, "Are you being the best Muslim you can be right now?" I know, I know, Ramadan won't last forever but for now this is coming in handy! 😆 But I digress.
During Ramadan everyone observes a shorter work day, restaurants don't open until later, and some are closed throughout Ramadan. The food courts in the mall are blocked by curtains and if you eat, drink, or smoke in public you could face a fine. For Muslims this means they do not eat, drink, or smoke, while the sun is up. In addition to that married couples are to abstain from sex during Ramadan. (I will not comment on that.)
Another awesome thing about Ramadan is charity. That is another important principle of Ramadan. During this time there are refrigerators around the city where people can take what they need for FREE. There are also tents for Iftar (the meal that breaks the fast) for FREE and for people of all religions. I think this is AMAZING! Even though the UAE is a very rich country there are some people who live here who are not rich so these free meals are beneficial to them.
The first day of Ramadan, which was a school day, I tried to fast. It is so hard. After teaching 2-90 minute classes I really wanted a sip of water more than anything. My respect for Muslims and this tradition quadrupled.
Selfish benefits of Ramadan are school starts later and dismisses early and many of my boys don't come to school. I totally understand why. They get up at like 1am to eat a pre dawn meal which is called Suhoor and then they come to school and have to learn and participate without being able to eat or drink. They don't break their fast until the sun sets which is usually after 7pm. That could make for a long day so I definitely understand why many of them don't come and I for one am not complaining! One day in my class of 30 students, 1 boy showed up! He said, "Ms. today we are 1." I said, "No problem, let's have class." If looks could kill!
As I am writing this, there is about 1 week left of Ramadan which will be followed by a holiday called Eid al Fitr. With this holiday 1 of the malls has announced they will be open for 24 hours and they will have sales with 90% off. Mike and I have made a list of all the things we need and we will be partakers of the sale!
During Ramadan, I took time to reflect on my life and my goals. I created a Fitness notebook where I track my progress and set goals. I created a Prayer Journal that I hope will help me with a consistent prayer life, and I have bought materials to create a travel scrapbook that I have been wanting to create.
In closing, religions are all very similar. And if we are all striving to be the best we can be and live our best lives there is nothing wrong with combining the best practices of each religion.
Be Kind to One Another and Be Uniquely You!
Hi! I'm Unique. Follow along with me as I try unique things and travel the world!