Why I miss Ramadan…

I miss Ramadan.

Not the fasting and praying by any means, but the insanely warm and tingly atmosphere, the food and chattiness and thankfulness.

It gets to you.

Because the whole city is awake, and even the littlest of your cousins is up at 4am. You sit on chairs beneath your building, with battery lights and summery breezes, with watermelon and football matches and the sweet smoky scent of arguileh. You hold babies whose faces are sticky with cake as you bat at bugs with a long, sizzling mosquito swatter.

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{Sunset in Beirut, sunset in Doha}

You break fast with dates and a tall glass of ayran every evening and there will be a thousand pumpkin seed husks spit into the garden from the porch before the moon sets. By then, everyone will be too full and relaxed to care about yelling at their kids when they run off to buy cheap chocolate and peanut puffs,  firecrackers and water pistols from the corner store.

And  there are lanterns everywhere and dozens of hands hold dozens of palm-high tea glasses that glow amber-red.  Every summer fruit is stacked high on platters and  you stand on a ladder and cut grape clusters straight from the vine overhead.

And though you are full to bursting, you can’t help but nibble at those sheets and sheets of Arabic sweets dripping with syrup and cheese and pistachio and that one candied orange blossom that tastes like wax.

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{My father’s village home}

And at no other time do you turn on the radio with a glass of water in hand at dusk and the jingles drive you nuts while you wait for the adhan to come warbling out.

And you never get  tired of cheese sambousak and lentil soup and fattoush even though you start with them every night because it is that familiar and comforting. And you watch pine nuts swirl in your iced jallab as you vaguely wonder why you never drink it any other time of the year.

There is a drummer walking the streets before dawn. He strikes his drum with slow, deep booms to wake those in slumber to  their last meal before the day breaks.

And, even though you are twenty three years old and have work in the morning, your mother still shakes you awake when he comes around, and pushes a mug of warm milk to your lips. The drummer in the street syncs in time with your sleepy gulps.

Yes, I miss Ramadan. I miss home.

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{My mother’s village home}

Here is to a happy, willing, and safe Ramadan for all Muslims and members of Muslim families everywhere.

My wish and hope is that out ex-Muslims and non-Muslims from Muslim families will still be welcome among their families and cultures. My hope is that we never have to say goodbye to home, that home remains a safe and welcoming place even if we choose not to fast, choose not to pray.

-Marwa

© 2014 Ex-Muslims of North America