23 February 2018

RAMADAN IN SUDAN: My observations

A date merchant in Sudan during the Ramadan (Source: qawlansaqeela.blogspot.com)

A date merchant in Sudan during Ramadan (Source: qawlansaqeela.blogspot.com)

As a South Sudanese Christian, I remembered the observances of the month of Ramandan from a young age. I grew up with cousins and aunts who professed the Muslim faith and regularly fasted during Ramadan. I remembered the time we used to play fasting Ramadan, without understanding what it is all about. We would just bring some little sand cooked in empty tomato paste tins, over fake fires and arrange the meal on the floor and congregate to eat. Every one just laughed at the end and we ran home to have our proper dinner.

During my time in university in Khartoum, I had the opportunity to observe the numerous types of people who fasted during Ramadan. My interaction ranged from the bearded militant Islamists (those who used to fight the so-called Jihad in South Sudan) to the liberal Gulf-educated ones and the common man from Dukan Fur in our neighborhood.

Ramadan became for us the month when nothing gets done. From offices to classrooms to even my neighbor from Dukan Fur around the corner, it is one of struggle and regret. Despite the fact that outwardly, the faces tried to shine and everyone wished each other Ramadan Kareem, their hearts were not in the fasting. They looked at their watches every minute and wished the sun would go down faster. The teachers skipped lessons, offices closed early and nothing got done by midday and when you asked, they say, I am fasting. It became the excuse for not doing anything fruitful.

Among my friends, there were those who would eat breakfast with us, have tea and go home to claim they were fasting. Also, the number of people who wanted prescriptions for a sickness not apparent, just so they do not fast, increased. In fact they wanted the doctors to liberate them from fasting, for it had become a burden.

Another habit was seeing people in public transport or on street corners with the Muswak stick in their mouths all day, spitting all over the place. I remembered the habit was also made fun of on Sudan TV. Imagine sitting in a bus and the guy next to you leaned over, with his sweaty body, to spit through the open window. Did these people brush their teeth only during Ramadan?

Despite all these, I have met true friends who fasted from the heart, embraced their fasting month willingly and lived it through with patience and genuine understanding of the true meaning of fasting. They did not go around wearing gloomy faces, but lived their lives normally and you couldn’t tell he or she was fasting unless you asked. I had sat down with them at numerous Iftars, drank the Helu Mur and ate the Ballah (dates), as well as the Asida with Mullah Weka.

It takes a genuine heart to observe the month properly. Ramadan Kareem to all true believers.

2 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Yar
    23 July 2013 at 9:48 am - Reply

    I am a South Sudanese christian too and although your post was an intriguing perhaps it was a little harsh, it is hard to fast, as an observant catholic christian during lent i abstain from meat which is all around me and can be very tempting to eat, now imagine eating no food at all. I know that these are simply your observances (I have witness the same among my muslim friends) but people are weak and forgetful, I am in high school and i go to a catholic school where we have prayer three times a day and on shrove tuesday (the begining of lent) we are given a pancake breakfast (because during lent we are to eat only unleaven/flat bread and herbs/vegetables) but imagine what they gave us along with our pancakes one year! Sausages! LOL so many people ate them without a care in the world. I also have lots of friends who vow to give up chocolate or give all there allowance money to the poor for lent but the next day you see them use all their allowance money to buy a whole box of chocolates. Your right that for many their hearts are not truely in it and i think it comes from ignorance of their religion, most of this behaviour happens among teens (high school and college students) who are still trying to find themselves and who may be going through a time where they question their identity and even their religion. End the ignorance is the key, sit them down and discuss raamadan with them. Why do they fast? What does it mean to them to do so? And how do they feel when raamadan is over? Anyway these people will eventually grow up and find themselves, and when the discover who they are they will konw what they want to do. Raamadan Kareem.

  • Yasir Elkhider
    29 July 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Good article, great reply from Yar
    Yes it is a little harsh “but true”. I guess if it was called 1000 words magazine u could write about the good aspects too 😉

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