I live in a small village, of around 2,000 people, in the Middle East. During Ramadan, everybody gathers together to break their fast. Neighbours invite each other over, or families get together. Almost every night, each household is either hosting guests or out visiting.
Ramadan is a beautiful time of year when people support each other to get through the days successfully. Women get together to cook, prepare the meals, to clean up. Neighbours might take turns, cooking alternate days, so one can rest each day. At Asr (afternoon prayer) the men are awoken by their wives or mums so they can go and bring the items needed from the shop.
Everybody gathers for iftar, and there’s an area for the men to sit and a separate area for the women. We lay out a mat or carpet outside, then in the middle of the mat, we place a selection of water, juice, and yogurt drinks. We place little bowls holding dates around the mat at intervals, so everyone can reach some.
After a long day of fasting, as we gently wilt into the ever-present heat, there is a golden moment which strikes our village.
As the Athan approaches (marking the moment we can break our fast), the whole village goes silent. Everyone sits still, with their water ready next to them, and a date held gently in hand. The atmosphere is one of restraint and anticipation.
Our village is never usually 100% silent. We hear cars, people, donkeys, sheep, goats, cockerels, and boisterous children playing. But during Ramadan, this unusual moment of silence comes, with certainty, every day.
We strain our ears, our gaze at the mountaintops, looking for the last drop of sun to let go and disappear. There is a softening into a deeper blue, like the way the colour of the sea deepens and darkens as it recedes into the distance.
Silence, as we strain our ears.
A tongue darts over dry lips.
We hear the microphone flick on at the mosque. The Athan begins.
We make hasty Dua,’ cool water rushing into our mouths, sweet dates bursting over our tongues.
Nobody watches anyone else. We are all to busy with our own pleasure.
As satisfaction sets in, only then do we look around, smile, talk for a while. We make salat. After salat, dinner is brought out. Bustling sounds return to the village.
In our village, ‘The Golden Moment’ happens each day during Ramadan and, truly, is the epitome of the collective, hopeful, and joyful spirit of Ramadan.
The author is a British revert to Islam, who lives in the Jordanian desert with her Bedouin husband and their three children.