Remembering Ramadhan

A Quran next to a bowl of dates

It’ll be approximately one week until Muslims around the world, including myself, welcome the holy month of Ramadhan.

Let the fasting and reassuring our non-Muslims that it’s okay to eat and drink in front of us begin! But in all honesty, I truly appreciate your concern and respect. 

While it’s exciting to rekindle the journey of fasting, I can’t help but feel the familiar feeling of homesickness rushing in again as I spend my 3rd Ramadhan away from home. So, like every other writer who has a soft spot for her past, I will reminisce about the many Ramadhan I’ve spent back in Malaysia. 

Growing up in a predominantly Muslim country, Ramadhan is a big deal not only to individuals but the community at large. I guess that’s what I miss most about Ramadhan, this coming together of not only Muslims but non-Muslims as well. Before the pandemic, local evening markets called ‘Bazaar Ramadhan’ would pop-up everywhere with Muslim vendors selling all kinds of halal delicacies for the neighbourhood to enjoy. Think local Malaysian dishes to Middle Eastern food to Western snacks to pastries and desserts – there’s just so much to choose from! Everyone in the community, regardless of their religion, would flood the plot of land in front of our local supermarket to grab some food for Iftar or dinner for those not fasting. For me, getting a chicken murtabak and satay was a must! 

It’s also around this time that families would visit each other to break their fast together. Our door was always open to friends and family who'd want to join us for Iftar. Occasionally, we'd go to my cousins’ houses too. It was like a rotation – one weekend they’d come by our house and the next, we’d go to theirs. But more often than not, my house was the spot that our families would gather for Iftar – partly because we were located nearest to everybody, partly because my aunt’s cooking is amplified during this month. Her dishes are always good but they’re even better during Ramadhan. Must be the divine blessing! 

A core Iftar memory to me was when we invited friends and families over. In common Asian courtesy, our guests brought some dishes and snacks to add to the already overflowing plates of food prepared by my aunt. So that meant that we had to eat on our living room floor to accommodate the number of people and food! There’s just something so comforting in sharing a meal with the people you love, something so intimate in passing food around and chatting with each other over delicious meals. I really miss that. 

I also miss going to Taraweeh prayers with my family. After Iftar, we would head over to the local mosque to pray. You’d finally get to see almost every Muslim in your neighbourhood congregating in one spot during this time of the month. I miss chatting with my sister and parents as we walked to the mosque. I miss observing the familiar and not-so-familiar faces of my neighbours and old classmates. I miss having small talks with my mother’s friends over tea and cakes after prayers. 

While the act of fasting and tuning into our spirituality is the same for every Muslim around the world, the experiences between spending Ramadhan in Adelaide and Kuala Lumpur have been very different for me. For starters, there’s no Bazaar Ramadhan here but I try to make the most of what the city has to offer like heading to the suburbs for Iftar with my friends. 

I wish our Muslim readers, students, and staff a wonderful and fulfilling Ramadhan! I hope you find the opportunity to spend it with Adelaide’s diverse community.

Tagged in What messes with your head, Ramadhan, fasting