Thursday, August 18, 2011


Year after year, Ramadan creeps up on us 11 days earlier than the year before. 
2011 has hosted Ramadan on the 1st of August, slap-bang-in-the-middle of the summer season and the hottest month of the Egyptian year, Fasting from sunrise, to sunset has been no easier this time round. In fact the heat has simply added to the post fitar coma most people experience and the Egyptian population's lethargy.

I personally love the atmosphere Ramadan has to offer, especially being back home in Egypt. I love how people gather together and how much closer families and extended families tend to come. I love the Ramadan lanterns (Fanous) - which i recently learned comes from the Greek word for lantern φανός (phanos). I love how the mosques light up and the small alleys in different areas of the city fill up with streamers and other home made decorations.

In my personal opinion, we (myself included) seem to have misunderstood the concept of Ramadan. 
There's the general idea of charity, modesty, self restraint and prayer which is displayed in society in one form or another. But Ramadan seems to have lost its spiritual essence. One should fast (go without food or water )in order to experience how the less fortunate feels and to be thankful for what they have and appreciate things more, however most of us break our fast to a daily feast all month long instead of a simple modest meal. 

During Ramadan, those who observe it should be working on their relationship with God and heightening their spirituality, instead Ramadan has become about where the new 'in' place to be seen is and what tv shows to watch. 

One would think that during Ramadan, people would hold on tighter to the concepts of their religion. However العمل عبادة  and  النظافة من الايمان are two concepts that seem to go out the door. 

Driving down El Korba heading home at 2 am after visiting with my Grandmother, the abandoned streets were covered in rubbish. Paper everywhere, empty food containers, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. Is the concept of throwing something in a bin so foreign to us?

During Ramadan, productivity in almost all sectors decreases drastically. Working hours tend to be altered to start a bit later and leave a lot earlier so that people can be home in time for sunset. However a lot of people show up even later than the 'Ramadan prescribed start' and end up being at work for no more than 2-3 hours! Others show up to work but do nothing but complain about being tired, sleepy, thirsty and hungry... and get no work done. Its simple, if you aren't able to fast, you shouldn't fast. If you choose to fast, then stop complaining and deal with it! You should also apply yourself at work to the best of your ability and not let your fasting affect your work. Or perhaps you should consider taking leave in order to fully observe Ramadan and not have your work suffer. 

The streets of Cairo witness some of the world's worst driving and the month of Ramadan is no exception especially during the rush home at about 3.30 and those 15 minutes before the sun sets. You'd think that with the spirit of Ramadan enveloping us, people wouldn't be rude, or swear or shout vulgar insults at drivers who cut them off etc but no, if anything it seems to increase as cranky fasting souls explode in each others faces (and often end up beating each other up...)

Its a real shame how Ramadan has lost its essence and been subject to so much commercialisation and trivialisation. I don't claim to 'do' Ramadan correctly but I wish I could!

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