Ramadan away from Home

Given the uncertainties of our present time when the world is experiencing a global pandemic, for all of us, Ramadan 2020 is different from previous Ramadan we have experienced. A significant part of the difference we are experiencing in this Ramadan revolves around “home”.

In Ghana and across the world, the impositions of restrictions on movement and mass gathering have compelled Muslims to confine ourselves to our homes in observing many of the rituals associated with Ramadan, chief among them being prayers. For others like myself, we are, on the one hand, far removed from home (i.e. family and Muslim community in Ghana); and on the other hand, we are also restricted to home (i.e. our residence in our present locations).

As Ramadan approaches its end, I reflect on experiencing Ramadan 2020 in Kansas, away from my family and community in Ghana.
Ramadan is almost synonymous with large congregational prayers in the night because this ritual is one of the uniqueness of Ramadan and like many of you, I definitely miss praying in congregation in the masjid. This reminiscence is particularly heightened in light of the fact that in my present location, the Muslim community is very small and we have been further confined to our homes because of the closure of our community masjid.

At home in Ghana, this void would have been somewhat filled by the presence of my family and friends despite the restrictions on mass gathering, but here in Kansas, none of them is available. Additionally, my ears yearn for the deafening sounds and echoes from the adhaan in the community masajids especially at dawn and during sunset. You know these are the adhaans that we all anticipate in Ramadan.

In this era of impositions, the Fajr adhaan would be akin to a lockdown on the tongue, throat and tummy while the Magrib one is definitely a lifting of that lockdown. I do miss the unison yet cacophony of voices that accompany these adhaans.

Here in Kansas, the MuslimPro app is my only solace!

Beyond the masjid and religious rituals, I miss the food and their readily availability in the community when I return home from work. I bet this is not surprising to you. I mean who reflects on spending Ramadan away from the Zongo community in Ghana without talking about the many dishes and delicacies: lamurji, maasa, koose and the sumptuous alele.(local delicacies back home)

I made some alele- smiles

Gosh! How I am surviving this Ramadan in the absence of these delicacies is a story for another day.
Here comes a bang. Boom! Boom! Boom!

Even in my dream, I know this is definitely my father at my door at dawn, calling me to wake up for suhoor and then fajr. He is not here in Kansas. These are among the many things that are lacking in my current life during this Ramadan and the nostalgia is saddening.
But amidst the absence of these, in retrospect, I’m thankful for experiencing Ramadan 2020 away from home. This journey has made me realize the importance of the many, little things that we take for granted: our immediate family, friends, neighbors and the strange faces we see at the masjid during Ramadan. They are crucial and positively impact our lives in ways that we do not fully acknowledge and appreciate. Many of you back home are lucky to be with your family during this stressful time;

I urge you to appreciate each moment you spend with your family. Before life happens and pushes you around, take advantage of these moments to eat, pray and bond together because one day you, like me, will miss it.
As regards the Muslim community where you find yourself a resident of, be thankful for everything including the little things like “Yaa kishin ruwa”,(Hausa-translated as “how is the fast?”  the salaams and all the “gaisuwas”(translated as greetings)  from the old women, the sellers across the streets, the Muslim stranger you meet in town, etc.

Follow the sunnah and return these greetings with something better, smiles and nice gestures.

Above all, Ramadan away from home has made me appreciative of the universal love that exists among Muslims everywhere. It is comforting to have the few Muslims here call and check up on me, making sure I am safe and sound especially given our global predicament.

Now, it is not lost me on that sometimes, the little, routine things we take for granted make huge impacts in our lives.


Author: Bilqis Ishaq

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