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 Memories of Ramadan Throughout the Years

استعرض الموضوع السابق استعرض الموضوع التالي اذهب الى الأسفل 
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عدد الرسائل : 1652
الموقع : كتــــــــــــــــــــــــــانه
تاريخ التسجيل : 29/01/2008

مُساهمةموضوع: Memories of Ramadan Throughout the Years   الإثنين يونيو 23, 2008 4:58 am

Memories of Ramadan Throughout the Years

The very first memory of Ramadan is taking a tray with food for breakfast for Suhoor the next morning in the hostel where I was living.

This naturally meant it was cold food like boiled eggs. I could boil water in my room so I could make a hot drink.

Breaking fast in the evening was O.K. as I had dates and water or milk. The evening meal in the hostel consisted of vegetables or salad and eggs or boiled fish.

The ingredients were not marked on the products in 1970 as they are today. This was something that gradually developed as a Common Market (European Union) requirement.

Even bread had lard (pig fat) in it. I used to go to many Master Bakers to try to find bread that I could eat, but all to no avail. In the supermarkets they used to phone their bakers for me, and I would talk to the Master Baker. Always the same story and even pita bread was not available then.

My mother used to bake bread for me when I was at her house, otherwise I ate dry biscuits. It was never possible to obtain the Jewish unleavened bread as this was by special order.

Some Ramadans I only had salads, vegetable and fish or eggs, that is, no meat.

Even in the UK I have fasted up to 20 hours in Scotland.

Not only is the long fast quite hard, al-hamdulillah but, trying to break fast, pray Maghrib, eat a meal, pray Isha and Tarawih, eat Suhoor and pray Fajr in 4 hours is also quite a struggle, al-hamdulillah.

In the Desert Heat

Obviously, I fasted in Saudi Arabia and while the days were short the temperature was quite high, up to about 53 degrees centigrade at the worst time of the year.

Fortunately we had air-conditioned houses, buildings, shops and cars. It was only when you came out of the house to get in the car or vice versa that you noticed the temperature, al-hamdulillah.

I used to stop drinking coffee about a month before Ramadan started as I used to get terrible headaches towards the end of the first few days of fasting. It was probably withdrawal symptoms from the caffeine.

We used to drive to Makkah during Ramadan while I was in Saudi Arabia. The government offices (including the Universities and schools) have a ten day break from the 26th of Ramadan to the 5th Shawwal so it was possible to spend the 27th night in Makkah.

After the Eid we would drive back to Dhahran via Madinah. For the first four years in Saudi we had a car with no air-conditioning. Ramadan was around the beginning of October in 1974 and that time of the year is still quite warm.

I used to fall ill when we drove to Makkah with dehydration but soon recovered al-hamdulillah. Later we flew and later still we bought an air-conditioned car.

We moved to Riyadh in 1986 and that shortened the distance from around 1500 kilometers to about a 1000 kilometers.

We became friendly with a Saudi family and they had a house on the outskirts of Arafat. One day they phoned us and said, "We have rented a car and we are driving to Makkah in two hours are you coming with us?"

It was Ramadan and we had actually decided not to go that year, but we gladly accepted. We drove about 150 kilometers from Riyadh and it was time to break fast.

We stopped, ate a little and prayed. Then we decided to eat a meal.

Just as we had started, a shammal [desert wind] blew up and sand was everywhere. We tried to finish eating what we could and rushed to pack everything up. By the time we finished the shammal had gone. It was very unpleasant with the sand getting everywhere.

To Fast or to Feast?

One year we went to Pakistan. The days Ramadan start and end in Pakistan are often different to those in Saudi Arabia. This particular year it would have been the Eid in Saudi but it was still Ramadan in Pakistan.

I had finished 30 fasts in Saudi, what should I do in Pakistan? I was aware of the ayah in the Qur'an which says we should start and end our fast with the community.

Yet, since I had completed 30 fasts for Ramadan there cannot be 31 fasts in Ramadan. I decided to fast a nafl fast, that is, it was not a Ramadan fast.

Then I enjoyed the Eid with the community. When I got back to Saudi Arabia I asked what should I have done. Some people said I shouldn't have fasted, others that I should have fasted 31 days for Ramadan. The most scholarly opinion actually endorsed what I had done, Allah knows best.

Two Dates and Half an Orange

In 1975, while I was at the University of Petroleum and Minerals, I had the chance to attend a week long conference in Makkah during the second week of Ramadan.

One afternoon, I was a little late leaving the conference and the shops were closed as I made my way to the Haram Sharief.

I decided to break my fast with water. In those days you could get a beaker and a stone jar with Zamzam water. I sat down and waited for the Adhan.

An elderly gentleman sat down beside me. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket, undid the knot, and placed two dates and half an orange on the handkerchief in front of him. At the first sound of the Adhan he offered me a date, then half the half of the orange. I offered him the water I had.

I cannot explain the feelings I shared with this 'friend'. We hardly spoke, but we shared something that I will always treasure the rest of my life, insha Allah.

What I shared with him was worth more than the £700 - £800 I had in my pocket. It couldn't even buy me food with which to break my fast. I think Ramadan is a great sharing experience if we look for it.

An Invitation From Allah

At this same conference in Makkah during Ramadan all the attendees were invited to enter the Kabah. When the steps were being put up to the door many people stopped and tried to join the line, but since they didn't have the conference attendees badge they were not allowed to.

I looked around, and said to myself, "Look at all these people, they have probably forgotten more than I will ever know about Islam and I can go in and they can't. Why me?"

I was having this debate with myself and the last person in the line was at the top of the steps while I was perhaps thirty yards from the bottom of the steps, still arguing with myself, when suddenly, in my mind came: "The invitation is from Allah, how can you refuse?"

I happily trotted up the steps and went in. It had taken me a long time to realize the invitation was from Allah, but when I did, I entered very happily and humbly, al-hamdulillah.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Born in 1938, Daud R. Matthews embraced Islam in 1970, married in Pakistan in 1973. He studied physics and subsequently achieved Chartered Engineer, Fellow of both the British Computer Society and the Institute of Management. Working initially in physics research labs, he then moved to computer management in 1971. He lived and worked in Saudi Arabia from 1974 to 1997 first with the University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran,and then with King Saud University in Riyadh. Has been involved in da'wah since 1986.He has given many talks on Islam in Saudi Arabia and the UK with a few in Pakistan. He has also presented Tafsir (in English) on Saudi TV, when the channel started up, for six months.
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Memories of Ramadan Throughout the Years
استعرض الموضوع السابق استعرض الموضوع التالي الرجوع الى أعلى الصفحة 
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