Ramadan in non-Muslim countries

You go to work where no one is fasting except you. You feel lonely when everyone go to their lunch break.

No one to exchange Ramadan stories with and no one to learn something new from about your religion.

At sunset when you need to break your fast you may be stuck in a meeting or in a class, or at your job.

One day, you may break your fasting alone at home.

And you may also break your fasting alone at home again and again.

You know when to break your fast by looking at the clock unless you use an electronic device (computer or phone) that calls the Athan.

You go to a mosque that  has a clean carpet but lack spirituality.

You stuck praying at one mosque whether you like it or not because there are no other mosques to go to.

The community decides that instead of bringing an Imam from Egypt to lead the Taraweeh, as they used to do every year, a young Hafith with broken Arabic from the community should lead the prayers.

You stand behind an Imam who recites Quran in a very broken Arabic you can’t even pass the first Raka’ of Taraweeh without drifting in your mind to something very materialistic just to distract yourself from this awful recitation.

The community also decide that after the four Raka’s of Taraweeh a young man should give a small talk. Talk about learning nothing about Islam in the six years I spent in this city, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Many times, when you decide that you need to pray all Taraweeh they postpone the prayers because a group of Muslims came from a different city collecting donations to build a mosque in their city. You feel extremely annoyed and leave.

You finish Taraweeh on Saturday at 11:30 pm feeling very spiritual to see drunk college kids roaming aimlessly the streets.

Bottom line if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas you should live in the US!

15 thoughts on “Ramadan in non-Muslim countries

  1. The time I feel I am out of place and space in the US is in Ramadan; some times I just feel I want to pack my things and leave. You are correct Ramadan in none Muslim or even none Arabic countries is very different, you fast alone and eat alone, and some times pray alone. Even in Eid I work because there is no one to visit or the Muslim people around me are at Work, The things that our countries provide in Ramadan can not be found in any other place, the Spirituality and the Social gathering.. I hope in the near future Ramadan will in an Arabic country 🙂

  2. الله يعينكم و يتقبّل منكم

    و ان شاء الله رمضان القادم تقضيه بين الاهل و الاحباب

  3. صباح الخير

    فعلا …ما اصعب رمضان في البلدان غير المسلمه …جربته سنه واحده في فرنسا وبالرغم من وجود جاليه مسلمه كبيره في المدينه اللي كنا فيها… الا انها كانت تجربة شقاء وصبر حقيقي …كنا قد وصلنا جديد الى المدينه و كان الجميع في عطلة ومع ساعات نهار طويله جدا ً نضطر الى تقضية الوقت في الاسواق او المولات …ما اسوأ ان تقضي ساعات النهار بين المفطرين و الاسوأ ان تقضيه وحدك في البيت …ما اسوأ ان لا تسمع صوت الآذان وقت الافطار والسحور…وأطرف شيء بالموضوع ان تصلي خلف امام يقرأ القرآن باللهجه السواحيليه الافريقيه …اما الدروس وخطبة الجمعه فهي كمان بالفرنسي مع شوية عربي لزوم القرآن والاحاديث.
    الله يصبركم ويكون في عونكم …معلش الاجر على قدر المشقه وان شاءالله اجركم عظيم

  4. Very insightful, and well-expressed post. I have had the chance to spend part of Ramadan, and then Eid Al Fitr, in Morocco, and the difference between spending it there, and in a non-Muslim majority country is immeasurable.

    I am impressed by those Muslims who are willing to fast in a non-Muslim context, as it is so much more difficult for all the reasons you elucidated.

    With Muslim patients, students, and colleagues I assume they are, and adjust meetings and sessions accordingly, whether by time of day or presence of food and drink.

    Thanks for a such a wonderful and personal post that resonates with so many, I’m sure.

  5. Ouch, Jaraad, I am so sorry that you don’t have a community of like-minded Muslims to fast, pray and connect with.

    The hardest thing for me would be the disappointment of not being spiritually fed during Taraweeh (I suppose it would be like hearing a dull, unempowering message at church Christmas morning).

    May God bless you in a special way as you finish Ramadan, and bless you with a surprise or two.

  6. ويسبر

    آمين

    نيسان

    فعلا عدم سماع الاذان شيء كثير محزن والواحد ما بحس بقيمته الا لما يبطل يسمعه.ـ

    Chiara,
    Thank you. Hopefully the reward is doubled when it is more difficult to fast🙂

    Kinzi,
    Actually, there is a big Muslim community in my town and they are very active but nothing can replace family. Most of the times, I am invited to break the fast with some families. The other days I can go to the Mosque. But sometimes I just prefer eating in my home. A good community helps us keep up with our expat status, to a certain degree. A family is an elixir of life its love is infinite.
    I don’t mind receiving more than one good surprise🙂 Thanks!

    Haitham,
    Amen!

  7. I feel you. I have had some really miserable/lonely Ramadans in the west. I have been lucky since now I am in a city where we have a good number of Mosques to choose from and the Imaams usually have beautiful voices, regardless of their Arabness. But we can always find ways to create a Ramadan atmosphere, by starting up our own traditions. I found that when I was on my own I was lax in my Iftar meal, so now I force myself to make the freekeh and fattoush which defined my Ramadans with my family. Also being on your own can be a spirtitual opportnity, with no one to distract you (and esp when like me u dont have a TV) you can do a bit Quran reading, a bit more self reflection and meditation. A wonderful opportunity to do this in ones own home.

    Also, what we have done is establish a network of Muslim women in my city and we tak it in turns to host pot luck iftars at our homes. The nice thing is that there is no obligation to attend and you are not so much a guest who may feel obliged to take part in the guest/host ritual. It is laid back affair to give people a chance to break fast together in a cosy environment. Maybe this is a ritual you can enact where you are?

    Anyway, good luck to you🙂 InshAllah feeha thawaab (esp if like me you are a coffee addict who shares an office with non-Muslim coffee addicts in Ramadan :O ).

    1. I like the potluck idea, better than eating in the Mosque. I have nothing against eating in the Mosque ( I have eaten there for years) but when you are with a smaller group you feel closer to them. I am very lucky, that I am invited a lot to people’s houses during Ramadan. But I know some friends living in bigger cities who break their fast alone everyday which I don’t think is healthy.
      As long as you make fattouch you are in the Ramadan spirit🙂
      Here is the good news about my coffee craving. It seems Chinese are not fond of Coffee. Since all my lab mates are Chinese no one drinks coffee so I don’t have to suffer smelling my favorite aroma while fasting🙂.

  8. As-salamu Alaykum,
    Speaking as an American Muslim who currently lives in Jordan, something I really miss about the U.S. is Ramadan and Eid. I used to really love the diversity present in the mosques and the great feeling of meeting so many Muslims from so many different countries. Having iftar in our local mosques was a wonderful experience that taught me a lot about different cuisines and cultures. I also loved the Eid prayer, which gathered hundreds of Muslims together in a large space (often a park). It was a beautiful, beautiful experience that taught me so much about sisterhood/brotherhood and the true spirit of Islam. I am so happy to be in Jordan but do not feel these same feelings during Ramadan and Eid. In the U.S., I felt that Ramadan/Eid was a community experience while in Jordan it seems more personal or confined to family. I am hopeful that one day I will see things differently and come to appreciate what I seem to be missing. Despite my feelings, Ramadan is beautiful no matter the location, and I am grateful to be fasting during this blessed month. Eid Mubarak to all my brothers and sisters in Islam.

    1. Wa Alikum Asalam,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I very much like to hear what foreigners living in Jordan have to say about it. I actually see Jordan that I am away from for a long time through them more than locals.
      You are very right about the diversity of people we see here in the US mosques. To interact with Muslims from all over the world is a privilege. I would never imagine myself living here for more than a year if it is not for for the Mosque and the Muslims I meet here. My first 5 years in the US I used to break my fast during Ramadan in the Mosque only. But as I mentioned being with family during Ramadan is something that is irreplaceable.
      Being foreigner anywhere in the world is not easy. I hope you find people in Jordan who can make you feel at home. Ramadan is always about sharing.
      Ramadan and Eid Mubarak to you!

  9. Now that I live in Jordan, I miss the iftars alone…I miss making my own food and eating at my own pace! but nothing can replace family…it’s fun to have them around, for the most part!

    Oh, the joys of broken arabic! I didn’t have to experience that since our Iman was Egyptian but I’m sure it’s hard.

    I miss Ramadan in the US, shocker, I know!

    InshAllah you will be able to spend Ramadan with your family soon!

    1. Reading the comments, it seems you are not alone who love Ramadan in the US. Subhan Allah this is the nature of humans we are different and that is what I like about us. We need to be different to like being everywhere. I read your “Ramadan in Jordan” and made me value more what I have here. It seems there is no perfect place but we need to love and adapt to what we have. Hope you enjoy your Ramadan in Jordan as well🙂

      1. SubhanAllah, it’s amazing to see how people have different views about things. I think you miss something when it’s gone but then when you come back to it, you realize, why did I miss this?

        Yes, I agree…it’s important to value what you have🙂 Enjoy the rest of your Ramadan and Eid in the US!

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