JEDDAH: Last year’s Ramadan was a holy month unlike any other. Families were unable to gather as normal for iftar and sahoor, voluntary work alongside friends was not an option, Taraweeh prayers were offered up at home and, most shockingly of all, the Grand Mosque was empty.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims are encouraged to reconnect with distant family members, join with friends to provide iftar meals for the less fortunate, and pray alongside fellow worshippers in mosques. In short, it is a time for people to spend time together — but the pandemic prevented this a year ago.
This year, many of the special Ramadan experiences and traditions people missed so much are once again available, albeit with some limitations still in place.
Arab News asked Saudis about the challenges and disappointments they faced during Ramadan last year, and their plans for the holy month this year.
Saudi lawyer Anmar Hashim, 30, said that Ramadan is a month for worship and family gatherings, and these big gatherings were what he missed most last year.
“Every year on the 15th day of Ramadan, I travel with my family and relatives to Madinah and stay at my grandfather’s house during the last 15 days of Ramadan,” he told Arab News.
“We go for leisurely walks and outings in the daytime until it’s time for iftar, and after that we all watch a Ramadan program or series together. We then head to the Prophet’s Mosque, and after completing the Taraweeh prayer my family and I go out for a cup of coffee or a treat. Then we all go back home and everyone does whatever he wants, from acts of worship to any other activity.”
Hashim added that he is happy he will be able to get together with family again this year and resume their Ramadan tradition.
While many Saudis struggled with the unusual Ramadan last year, Rafal Jokhdar, a 27-year-old customer experience team leader, had a different perspective: She enjoyed it.
“Ramadan last year for me was the most peaceful, calming, spiritual Ramadan I have ever experienced in my entire life,” she told Arab News.
Although she spent it alone in Jeddah, as her family live in Riyadh and she was not able to be with them, she said she soon adjusted to the unusual experience.
“It was a struggle in the beginning to have to go through a Ramadan with no one with me, no one to share that experience with, since Ramadan is known to be all family and gatherings-oriented,” Jokhdar said. “But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, actually.”
She added that although s
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