Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We Only Cooked Twice!!

Last Ramadan for me was a wonderful experience, alhamdulillah. For converts in general though, I think it could at times be lonely, especially their first if they don't know that many Muslims. One thing I really enjoyed about my first Ramadan (which I stated when I was interviewed for the university newspaper the Friday before Eid) was the real sense of community. I met so many people, so many Muslims, they were everywhere, in large groups. And everyone was always so wonderful and nice (because... we were eating... a happy thing after 12 hours!).

A friend of my roommate's (and mine) recently asked her what we would be doing for Ramadan, and how we managed being alone, as we are. Well, my roommate was quick to tell her that in all of Ramadan last year, we only cooked twice. And one of those times was an iftar at our apartment!! How did we pull it off!? You might wonder... and we thought about it. It was pretty impressive actually, but I think back on it, and looking forward to this Ramadan I'm hopeful something similar will occur. Breaking fast with other people is infinitely better than doing so alone... for me, the first day I fasted was Arafat in 2006, when it was early in January. And I fasted alone. The second time I fasted though was with a sister in the MSA and I broke fast with her and that, my friends, was completely different. For me I was learning something there but also, to have company makes it a more meaningful occasion. And the more people present, the more to make du'a, and it does make a difference.

So, when Ramadan came around, I was fortunate enough (alhamdulillah) to have company almost everytime I had to break my fast. To start with, the masjid had free iftars for "singles/college students" twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. It was segregated (when I say "singles" I don't want people to think it was a mixed get-to-know-you group date kind of thing) and never really crowded. 10-15 sisters usually, 20-30 brothers. But that was twice a week. On Thursdays every week the MSA had an iftar somewhere on campus for the college kids... that is, on my campus. On Tuesdays my roommate had a standing invitation at a friend's place, while I had a class. If I hadn't had that class I'd've gone with her, btw. But I would end up breaking fast in class with dates and water, sometimes a sandwich I would pack in the morning to take with me, and then grab a few more bites of leftovers in the fridge. Yes, leftovers, because especially the masjid iftars, always had leftovers. They had to get rid of the food way before isha too, so the fridge started filling up. (And we ate some of that for suhoor too, btw.)

So, so far that is Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays all covered. Leaving only the weekends. Now my roommate isn't so anti-social like I am, or she just has a lot more friends (being Muslim longer and all...) who give iftars. Some of those nights we were invited different places. Once to see the friend mentioned above who asked in the first place, once at another sister's house with a large group of almost entirely convert sisters, once there was a huge iftar for sisters at the masjid, once another huge iftar with the masjid A-list (the imam was there!) and then there were a few other college iftars, sponsored by the MSA at the other college, so I (and other students) could go over there too because it wasn't that far. And we were invited a few other places too. On Sundays I typically would actually buy food (Greek Fiesta!) and take it with me to sorority meetings, since maghrib came at a time when I had to be in a meeting, and they didn't mind too much. And any other time there were plenty of leftovers still. There was the iftar at our apartment, and also the one time my roommie cooked spaghetti. lol...

So alhamdulillah, that was really nice.

So... some words of wisdom from a convert:
  • if you know a convert, invite him/her to a group iftar... several, if you can
  • if you are a convert, find out about iftars sponsored by groups you're a part of and make an effort to attend
Breaking the fast with others is one really special (and I think, often overlooked) benefit of Ramadan. If you always eat with other people maybe you take this for granted. The only reason I could think of for turning down an iftar invitation would be because I had already committed to another one. (And I did on occasion skip masjid iftars to go to a friend's house instead, I should mention.) Reach out to people you know who live alone, or maybe only with their spouse (married people gonna flip at me... hmm...) or even whole families too. The more the merrier.

I'm pretty sure that eating in groups is better than eating alone, and for sure, praying in a large group better than a small one, and a small one better than none at all.

(And yes, my Ramadan calendar already has dates on it!)

pun intended.

Ramadan Mubarak (two weeks in advance!)


zanjabil said...

To eat the morning meal alone is to eat with Satan; to eat with one other person is to eat with a tyrant; to eat with two other persons is to eat with the prophets (peace be upon them all).

Saying of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.),
The Book of Sufi Healing,
Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti (one of my favourite books)

hanifah_99 said...

Thanks for the tips... I became Muslim about 5 years ago and my Ramadans are STILL very lonely. I have had the hardest time meeting people and everyone complains about how the Muslim community is not all taht great here. Anyway, I never thought to check out the other universities MSAs. My university held iftars one year but other than Ramadan, they don't hold many other events throughout the year. Not many sisters attend either so I don't really get to meet anyone there.