By Shariffa Carlo

To someone from outside, seeing the enthusiasm that Muslims exhibit for the coming of Ramadan in the face of the work and effort we have to put in, it can be quite confusing and frustrating. A Christian friend of mine, Dr Kathy Nixon, was actually annoyed by Ramadan because, among other things, she wouldn't be able to have her hot lunch at work. In her final year in Kuwait, she was invited to join us in the fast.

She studied it, got a number to call if she got weak and with that knowledge and support, she fasted. She saw how it is a special and blessed time for those who observe it with prayer and humility. She even likened it to her observance of Lent. Now, she not only appreciates Ramadan, she is enthusiastically planning to fast with us at the beginning of Ramadan this year. So, let's explore some other reasons do Muslims have for loving Ramadan as much as we do:

Ramadan synchronizes families and communities
Some of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "We eat but are not satisfied." He said, "Perhaps you eat separately." The Companions replied yes. The Prophet then said, "Eat together and mention the Name of Allah over your food. It will be blessed for you" (Abu Dawud).

Fasting is also a wonderful way to socialize and reconnect. I don't know about others, but my family isn't exactly synchronized in our eating schedules throughout the year. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are not always possible at the same time. My teaching schedule and my sons' college classes and socializing schedules don't make for a lot of daily shared meals.

Many families have grown children with families of their own. Many of us, expats in Kuwait, don't even have any extended family and our friends become our family by default. Ramadan, a time where we all eat at the exact same time, becomes the perfect impetus for getting together for a highly appreciated meal, a meal that is, more often than not, made even more delicious by the fact of being surrounded by others.

Ramadan meals are special in so many ways. They are normally extra tasty (The fact that we have waited all day for it makes that first bite taste like manna from heaven), as our Prophet said, "The fasting person enjoys two moments of pleasure: when he breaks his fast he is joyful, and when he meets his Lord he is joyful for his fasting."

And, of course, I would be negligent if I didn't mention that every Muslim family has its Ramadan Specials, food that only comes out at Ramadan, like nightly samboosasa. Many Ramadan meals are an ever-ending variety parade of soups, salads, meats, sweets and treats that leave many of us in food comas, in spite of fasting all day. So, it's clear that the sharing of food, itself is a big part of our love of the month.

Ramadan: Sharing is caring
To punctuate this, we are, as Muslims, aware that providing food to anyone who is fasting is also considered a massive charity and yet another chance for blessings. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Whoever feeds a fasting person will have his sins forgiven, will be saved from hell fire, and will have the same reward as the fasting person without diminishing the reward of the fasting person in the slightest." The Companions said, "Not all of us find that with which to feed a fasting person." The Prophet replied, "God gives this reward to whoever breaks the fast of another even with a sip of milk, a date, or a drink of water."

Even if we can't share our food together at the same table, we can increase our chances for blessings by giving food, money or ingredients to those who are less fortunate. In Kuwait, you can't help but notice all the tents that go up all over Kuwait serving the iftar to anyone who comes in.

You might notice people taking large serving trays to the mosques right before the time to iftar. What you may not see is the millions of dinars that travel the world, headed to those in need. In Ramadan, the purse strings become extra loose as people try their best to emulate the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who was described as being 'more generous that the blowing winds', during Ramadan.

These simple acts help us unlock doors to compassion we may have neglected throughout the year. I have to wonder what will happen to those who are alone this Ramadan, if we still aren't allowed to gather. I envision and pray that we can, at least, have some zoom iftars with those who are alone.

Courtesy of the TIES Center: The TIES Center is the social and educational hub for English Speaking Muslims in Kuwait and aims at empower Kuwait's expats through social and educational services that promote a positive and productive role in society, and to facilitate opportunities for intra- and interfaith interactions that promote social solidarity. For more information, you can contact TIES at Tel:25231015/6; Hotline:94079777; e-mail: [email protected].