Ramadan in Tunisia
A big lifetime experience
One of the most intriguing events of the year, that genuinely marks a middle-eastern life style, is that of the Muslims’ holly month. A month of celebrations, of spirituality, of fasting and God worshipping. Going around the world, there isn’t much known about it. The masses’ understanding of it restricts to a period where Muslims starve themselves for a month, and that is what reaches the ignorant ears of have heard, and it is said. What truly happens though, exceeds the sayers and the hearers expectations’. It is a worth-while exciting world of wonders, social experiments and cultural fulfillment about to be uncovered in the lines that follows.
Unlike what the rumors have spread, Ramadan was never about starving one’s self for thirty days straight. But as a religious duty and custom, fasting is actually a form of self-testing, of endurance and determination. It is about training our humble human nature, body and soul, to feel the urge, to go after materialistic desires and still resist it nonetheless.
Similarly, to Buddhism meditation or other spiritual practices, Ramadan is about the culmination and nurturing of our spiritual being, rather than the everyday hustle of physical greed and material consumption. That being said, Ramadan was never restricted to quitting desires, bad habits, swearing, drinking, smoking or even sexual intercourse for four weeks. It’s more about family values, social kindness and social interaction. It’s about caring for the poor and needy, and sharing a holy tradition with loved ones, with the whole nation, the whole world even. What makes Ramadan so special, is its ability to unify the world, one where individuals and countries would get together on the same duty of self-growth and responsible consumption, peaceful behavior and helpful community values. Pretty much everything, that if implicated daily, would make the world a better place. A month where all of this voluntarily comes true, is more than the world could ask for.
Concerning the belief that Ramadan is about praying all day and eating all night, that is something, I genuinely cannot deny. It is about praying all day, and night to be honest, but what kind of praying? that’s what makes the difference. For, Ramadan is not a month to live in a mosque or memorize the holy Quran, though it is advised to do so if possible, but not merely Praying and worshipping. It is clearly instructed to be the act of kindness and the sense of service. It’s feeling the pain of the hungry in the “can’t eat rule” and the thirsty in the “can’t drink one”. It’s striving to give from what u have and have what you luck. If you have no patience, Ramadan is the month to practice. If you have no manners, well you better start learning some, because in Ramadan you can’t have any of those and spoil a whole day of good deeds and Godly efforts. If you have no endurance, you have to be reluctant to go through the whole month alive. And if you have no money, well you don’t need any, you’re not eating anyway. But if you have nothing you’ll get plenty , because in Ramadan philanthropy is the first highlighted rule of all times, giving… giving… giving , it’s all it takes and that’s all it happens. Giving clothes, gifts, money, food, charity, physical help, anything anyone could afford giving. A smile is advised to be the greatest gift and Ramadan is the month of wide glorious glowing smile as month of serenity and self-satisfaction.
What is generally celebrated in Ramadan though, is what makes the festive all fiery, cozy and family-like, is the environment that sheds light on food, yes food, and who doesn’t like food? Now you may wonder, how a month so focused on fasting and deprivation could circle around food. Well, I’ll tell you why: see how every action has a reaction and every side has a flip side, every sacrifice has a result and every prayer have an answer. Well as every night has a day, Ramadan is a month with days to endure and nights to enjoy. The food, the cooking, the dishes, the multitude, the invites and the sharing; the family gatherings, the outings, the streetlights that never go down until the break of dawn and the prayers that marks the end of the reward and the beginning of a new test. With every day we learn a lesson, we get tested and we get rewarded, and who doesn’t like a nice-looking sweet-tasting, family-loving, delicious meal.
As every testing system goes through questions of every Ramadan day, Grades of every meal and the Graduation of the month. The culmination of Ramadan happens with the break of the Aid at the end of it, which is basically the celebration of a month well spent and plenty of good deeds to mark and remember and hopefully multiply. As it is also, the celebration of the end of fasting, a three days’ serious of Eids, spent having fresh morning coffees and afternoon chit-chats with relatives and loved ones. Three days to visit all those forgotten and neglected due to the hassle and bustle of everyday routine. To enjoy an intimate happy catching-up session, going around through family members, the far and the near. The gift sharing, sweet baring, comes to an end with the break of the three days,with you feeling spiritually fulfilled, with a happy conscience and satisfied stomach, full of holiday sweets as if you haven’t fasted a day.
All in All it is a self-nurturing, self-growing experience, one not to be missed or taken for granted. It is one fully enjoyed, fully remembered, with lessons well learned and time well spent and much love, very well expressed every year, genuinely it is one not to be missed, truly rewarding and a must try lifetime experience.