One of our members succinctly captures the eagerness with which we await the Month of Ramadan:
Ramadan decorations are hung up in our centres as we reminisce about past Ramadans. There is laughter and joy and a sense of community here as preparations are underway. Our building, for some their second home, is colourfully and lovingly decorated, inside with bunting and glass lanterns hanging from the ceiling and outside rows of small lanterns in a traditional print sway gently in the wind and strings of lanterns and lights glow brightly at night. Foil decorations across the window panes and a curtain of star shaped lights pulsate additional brightness from the window as every corner displays the efforts of the volunteers to deliver a delightful nostalgia.
Whole countries and communities treat this month with reverence – we wish to impart this feeling to our youth and others who haven’t experienced it the way it has been experienced for over a thousand years in their ancestral lands. Ramadan is a different experience when living in Western societies; for one, there isn’t a widespread national celebration. The youth here are unlikely to experience streets lit up with Ramadan lanterns and lights and bunting hung across cobbled streets. Nor are they likely to catch the scent of sweets wafting from shops that are preparing gifts for people to take to relatives, with quests that extend out onto pavements. Families get together to cook iftars that they share with neighbours, the adhan for maghrib rings out into the horizon of a beautiful sunset and then there is the emptiness of the streets at iftar time – with a handful of people looking to serve a fasting stranger passing by with a date, a drink, or even a meal, as they compete to obtain the reward of feeding a fasting person.
No matter where in the world we are though, this is the Month that we eagerly await each year. So we will run to our centres, for it is Ramadan, the Month in which our hearts become alive and we are re-energised, rushing to do as many good deeds and acts of worship as we can. We will host bring a dish iftars that are generously prepared and carried in and up the stairs, with a tiredness felt by the fasting cook, brought into the serving team of volunteers and all because they seek reward. And when the adhan is called we will pray in jama^ah/congregation, break our fasts with a date and quench our thirst with the water served. The hunger and tiredness that may be experienced will feel that much sweeter during this Month of tranquillity and serenity. The Month in which people will search the night sky, desiring to catch a glimpse of something special, hoping that the changes we make will become permanent and will remain long after.
O Ramadan, we are eagerly awaiting to welcome you in.