We spoke to our team member Radwa Ali to discover her experiences growing up and learning about Ramadan.
When did you first start to understand Ramadan?
Growing up Radwa saw her parents fasting every Ramadan. Around the age of 8 I started imitating them when they were praying, even if I didn’t understand what they were doing. The same with fasting: I saw my parents not eating during the day, so I tried not to eat for as long as possible either. It started like that and from there on it became little habits.
What was Ramadan like as a kid?
Ramadan was really fun as a kid, it was such an experience. Growing up as a girl especially, I helped my mom a lot. She would start her day by thinking what she would make for Iftar that evening and spend the whole day preparing. During preparation of Iftar I learned how to cook certain dishes. I always liked spending time with my mom during Ramadan food shopping, cooking and preparing for Iftar
At Iftar we always had a lot of visitors: friends, family or colleagues of my dad that maybe didn’t have wives living with them to cook. The spirit of Ramadan for me is bringing people together and that is what makes Ramadan so beautiful. In high school my whole class would raise money to buy food to give to those in need. Coming together and doing so much good is just something you don’t see enough of outside of Ramadan.
What’s your childhood memory of Ramadan?
My childhood memory of Ramadan is hearing the Adhan, because the prayer is so much louder and all the mosques go at the exact same time, which is so beautiful. Our whole home was always decorated with stars and the moon, you would see them everywhere.
I was raised in Saudi-Arabia, during Ramadan they would set up special souks there. These souks are different from the mall-like here in Dubai. There was one souk in particular that my family would visit during Ramadan. This souk sold all sorts of stuff, including Ramadan sweets and related stuff.
How did you experience Eid as a kid?
During the last 10 days of Ramadan, families start getting ready for Eid. My mother used to change the whole interior of our Saudi home, from furniture to curtains. Together with her friends my mother would make a lot of Eid cookies, my share of cookies was always gone fast because they were so delicious!
The morning of Eid we would wake up to the smell of oud, an Arabian perfume. My parents would come in and wish us a happy Eid. We would get up and get dressed for the occasion. Then my dad would come up to us and give us some money, which we call ‘Eideya”. He wouldn’t only give money to us, but to every family’s child we visited. It’s a part of the giving tradition; you can’t visit someone’s home empty-handed. The rest of Eid we would spend receiving guests and visiting friends and family’s homes ourselves. Sometimes we went to a theme park or some other fun activity to celebrate Eid.
The more you grow up the more you learn from your family and Ramadan becomes something that’s a spiritual journey.