Nasif Kayed, the CEO and Founder of Arab Culturalist is a cultural consultant, public speaker, and educator on topics dealing with Arabic and Islamic culture. He likes to engage with groups and individuals of all kinds and takes every interaction as an opportunity to share knowledge and experience about his heritage. His teachings range from the basics of the underlying culture to how to adapt and integrate to it when choosing a life in the UAE, and he often hosts Iftars of his own to focus on the special time that is Ramadan. He has been kind enough to send us some thoughts about the upcoming Holy Month.
“Ramadan is a month when the entire community comes together and changes their daily life routine; we eat at different times, we sleep and wakeup at different times and even exercise at different times. We also join in doing good through many spiritually uplifting practices. Everyone does their best and should try and help others be more patient, modest, caring and tolerant from break of dawn to sunset; it’s like an exercise that encompasses the entire society all at once.
It should also help us become more, disciplined, determined, and have more empathy towards those who are less fortunate than we are. As a community we do indeed look forward to a month when everyone is trying to have self-restraint, no anger, foul language, gossip or attitude towards one another. It’s like when you buddy up with someone to go to the gym and exercise; we support each other to practice all these values, leaning on each other for support. Then Iftar time arrives, at 7 or so in Dubai, when the entire community sits for a meal, at the same time, gathered as families, relatives and friends for a purpose that exemplifies a true sense of family and community. No one goes hungry. Additionally, charity is heightened and so are our prayers for peace and relief from hardship.
Beside all of that, who cannot but notice the beauty of the city. Dubai becomes lit and alive through the night and until the early hours of the morning, when again all must gather for the Suhoor meal 4am to fast another day. Sometimes the array of foods and desserts that only appear during Ramadan can be indulgent – so there is a self-restraint of a different kind after sunset. I enjoy all of it, within moderation, of course.
Ramadan ends, and the Eid festivities begin. It’s a time when all rejoice in the accomplishments of Ramadan where we tried our best for a month to simply be better. On the morning of Eid we hug, embrace, mend all differences with one another, give the poor Zakat money and give the kids Eidiya cash that they freely spend on whatever they wish. We visit one another, starting with the grandparents and parents, uncles and aunts, friends and neighbors. We get worn out, but nothing replaces that feeling when we unite as a community to share our joy with everyone around, and greet one another ‘Eid Mubarak.'”
If you’d like to tell us what Ramadan means to you, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the Ramadan with Marriott blog.