By Mudassir Raja
Muslims live in all corners of the world. Everywhere they experience and observe the holy month of Ramadan in different ways as per their respective cultures.
As there are Muslim expatriates from different countries living in Qatar, their experiences of observing Ramadan in Qatar have been different culturally from their own countries. Most of them find it exciting when they experience Ramadan in Qatar for the first time.
Salman Sayed is a Ugandan expatriate observing Ramadan for the first time in Qatar. He finds it easy here to have time for prayers and recitation of the holy Qur’an. Community recently got in touch with Salman, who shared how he observes Ramadan in Qatar.
Introducing himself, Salman said: “I am from Kampala in Uganda. My mother is a Somali and my father is a Ugandan. I come from a polygamous family that has 28 children. I have been in Qatar for nine months now. I have been working as a CCTV operator with a hospital. I am a born-Muslim and to me it has been a blessing to live a life striving for Jannah.”
When asked to share how he used to observe Ramadan in Uganda, Salman said: “Ramadan in Uganda is exciting in its own way. Normally, the month starts with the first Tarawih prayers. Most masjids prefer the Sunnah of 20 rakaat.
“In the mornings, there are always two adhaans. One adhaan wakes up the Muslims for Suhoor. Then about two hours later the adhaan for Fajr prayer goes as regularly. Following the Fajr prayer, everybody turns to their daily duties.
“Everyone’s routine remains pretty much the same just like before Ramadan. Unlike Qatar, in Uganda there is no reduction in the working hours. The only public place you will find Iftar is at a masjid. It is during Iftar that the masjids get so active. Most of the masjids serve the food in big plates that about five people share. It is mostly only fried rice because it is easy to prepare and that is what most people prefer.”
When asked to share his experience of Ramadan in Qatar, Salman said: “This is my first Ramadan far away from home. It is a whole new experience for me. In Uganda the weather at this time is usually cold because it is rainy season. Here, on the other hand, the hot weather is tough so you have to limit your exposure under the scorching sun.
“Nevertheless, it has given me a first-hand experience of what fasting was like for the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] and his companions. We also fast in Qatar two hours longer than back in Uganda but I have been able to cope with it.”
He further praised different activities in Qatar during Ramadan. “I am so impressed by the effort everybody puts into Ramadan here. Ramadan is the month mentioned in the Qur’an and the reduced working hours give me more time to recite, reflect and understand the Qur’an more. Working only for six hours leaves you with enough to do extra prayers. I also get enough rest and this helps me stay focused at the workplace the next day. It is really so easy to schedule your day with different forms of worship if you have enough time.
“The Iftar tents, Iftar gathering, and Iftar boxes distributed by different groups among the cab drivers at the intersections is so inspiring. It shows the true spirit of unity among the Muslims and being there for one another. It is incredibly inspiring how much generosity is visible here. It really lifts up your Ramadan spirit. Almost every masjid offers Iftar packages for each individual and there is really nice food in it. It maks me look forward to the next Iftar. I cannot tell you how many random acts of kindness I have experienced and witnessed this Ramadan.”
He added: “It has been a wonderful experience. I still have more than a year left on my contract so obliviously I will be looking forward to experiencing another Ramadan in Qatar.”
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