My name is Maurane, I’m a 19 year old Belgian, irreligious girl who decided to participate in Ramadan last year. My “motivation” at the time was actually my best friend. She changed schools and didn’t have many muslim friends she could relate to so I decided to learn more about Islam and I wanted to share the experience with her.
This year my motives have changed. I decided to participate each year with another mindset, another goal. This year my focus was on poverty and realizing I am privileged in every sense of the word. I’ve got to admit, I can be a foodie at times and overeat. This isn’t very uncommon in my Western environment. So this period for me is about taking a step back and looking at how little we actually need and how hard it is for people who didn’t have the same luck as me to grow up in a country and a home that provides me with everything I want. A month to think more about the gratitude I should have.
Because of practical reasons (exams) I do drink water and the hours I eat are different. I decided that since my motives are different I could do my own interpretation of Ramadan. I eat one meal, the same time my family eats in the evening so around 19:00. We don’t spend much time together in the day so I find it very important to be seated with them at least once a day.
Last year I did one full day of Ramadan and it was hard, unbelievably hard. Not drinking with the hot and heavy weather we (sporadically) have in Belgium wasn’t pleasant but I felt a bit proud of myself at the end of the day.
So now I gave you a very brief synopsis about why and how I participate, I’m going to share 5 things I noticed during the Ramadan.
- The lovely community
Everybody is suddenly a part of something bigger and although I don’t have an Islamic background at all, I still feel as if I’m a little piece of that puzzle.
- The hunger is pretty manageable
To be honest, I thought I was going to die from starvation 3 hours in. Of course since I still drink water it’s a lot easier to control the hunger but still, I was surprised. What I do struggle with, this year and the year before is headache. For some kind of reason I always get a headache in the evening. Maybe it’s because of the heat, or maybe it’s because of my exams, who knows.
- A lot of the reoccurring questions
This is the second year I noticed that a lot of people aren’t really that informed about what Ramadan is all about. My muslim friends often get the same questions, which some of them have no problem answering and some of them are pretty tired of. For me it was always pretty straight forward to know that you couldn’t drink or eat when it was light and that it’s the Holy Month. I guess it surprised me this much because I live in Antwerp which is super diverse so I just assumed everybody knew what it meant.
- On the other hand, the growing attention
Although a lot of people aren’t informed, there are a lot of events that educate and motivate people to participate. For example my school hosts an evening for everybody to come together to enjoy Iftar, muslims and non-muslims. Non-muslims are encouraged to fast themselves that day. This can also be like not smoking or eating sweets that day, just challenging yourself in any way possible.
- How bad my cooking skills actually are
Everything, LITERALLY EVERYTHING looks great when I see Iftar pictures of my friends. I knew my cooking skills weren’t advanced but wow.
Well that being said, I wish you all a blessed and peaceful Ramadan filled with lots of love.