|Satellite Moon & Ramadan|
|Sunday, 30 August 2009 08:18|
Two things come to mind straight away when I think of Ramadan in Jeddah, namely, the atmosphere of sincerity, and the sense of celebration.
Being accustomed to eating two, three, four or more times a day every day it is not an easy thing to just stop, and do without anything from sunrise to sunset, and even to do without taking a sip of water. Yet, people were so happy to be fasting. There was a joy in their countenances.
Then, I reflected to myself that there has to be more to it than merely fasting for fasting sake. It was then I was able to discover a key to why there was this gentle joy on people’s faces throughout the entire month of Ramadan. It was because they realised that this was a special time for them from out of their regular daily life in which to stand back and examine their lives; how they had been living up to their beliefs, and taking care of their family, neighbours, friends, community, the city, and the country, and by extension sending every good intention and blessing to the rest of the world, namely to the distant regions of the great garden.
Of course, come sunset there was what can only be described as banquets everywhere in the sense of there being an abundance of delicious foods available, not alone in the homes but also in the greater society such as in the Al Balad, in the heart of Jeddah. Yet, it wasn’t as if everyone was gorging themselves with the exceptionally tasty food, in particular the sweets, but rather of eating to one’s heart’s content within the atmosphere of celebration; a shared experience of doing something special for their spiritual well being.
Suddenly, I am being reminded of sitting on a bench watching the sun set in the shimmering waters out beyond the beautiful Blue-Domed Mosque north of Jeddah. The location of this mosque is special in that it is built in the water, and can only be reached by a small footbridge. It is also called the Mosque on Stilts and the Island Mosque, and was one of my favourite places in Jeddah to stroll, sit and reflect. Another was along by the ‘Four Arabian Lamps’ especially in the dawn.
Often, I strolled along there by the mosque in the evening time about Maghreb, when the sun was setting. Maghreb is the time for evening prayer. Many would come there to pray.
I remember, I was sitting on this familiar white bench one such evening watching the sun set in the sea, and all the people making their way out along the arched colonnade to the main part of the mosque. It was a lovely scene surely as everybody looked very happy.
As I was enjoying this glorious ambiance an elderly, dignified, shy Arabian man of regular build and height came along on my left and sat down beside me. He was dressed in traditional Bedouin attire, had a fine beard and wore his hair long. He was of the fragrance of musk and rose. I stood up out of respect for an elderly person. He smiled and gently shook my hand. His hand felt like high quality silk.
We both sat down together and there in silent harmony watched the sun set into the sea. Then he said to me,
"It pleases Allah to give us all this beauty."
I smiled in agreement, and replied with,
"It is how we read it."
With the muezzin calling out for prayers he smiled at me and rose to his feet, and went and entered the holy mosque. I watched him from the bench as he made his way out along the colonnade.
The memory of his words, the softness of his voice, the beauty of his smile, the touch of his hand, the dignity of his person and the fragrance of his presence will always be with me.
By way of satellite moon, I am again sitting on that favourite white bench by the shimmering waters by the Blue-Domed Mosque, strolling along by the enchanting Four Arabian Lamps, and enjoying the atmosphere of Ramadan in welcoming Al Balad of Jeddah.
Ramadan Kareem. Blessings of Ramadan.