By Samia Messaoudi
I have spent most of the Ramadans Allah has given me to experience in non-Muslim countries, mainly in France where I was born and grew up. There, my Ramadans have always passed peacefully and quietly, mostly with family at our home or at some relative’s house at Iftar time.
I call it “Intramural Ramadan” because Ramadan is experienced exclusively within the home, particularly around the table and in the hearts and the minds, and not really anywhere else.This is even truer today, at a time when being a practising Muslim in non-Muslim countries is an everyday struggle.
During Ramadan, we get together, we eat, pray and stay up. We invite the neighbours to share Iftar, and we try somehow to create an atmosphere conductive to spirituality, meditation, sharing, and community life.It is not at all easy when the rest of the daily routine and everything that comes with it is fixed and unchanged. Ramadan here is only a very “inner” experience and that remains so because of the circumstances.
I have been given the opportunity to live in Egypt for three consecutive years during Ramadan and it was a difference of night and day compared to what I knew. Ramadan changed from a time that I experienced mostly alone and at times with my family, to a national event, shared by all and with all. I remember clearly the realisation I had during my first Ramadan in Egypt: “I think this is the first ‘real’ Ramadan of my life.” Since then, I do my utmost to ensure that each year I spend Ramadan in a Muslim country. I returned to Egypt in 2011, al-Hamdullah and this year I am in Tunisia, insha’Allah.