In this, the final installment of our Observations of Ramadan from Ethiopia two-part series, Hayat Seid, Class of 2017, shares her favorite thing about Ramadan.
With more than 35 percent of the population being Muslim here in Ethiopia, Ramadan is a highly anticipated and celebrated time of year. One can tell that the blessed month is approaching from the slightly amplified disorder found in the markets and the words "Ramadan Mubarak" at the start of every commercial on television. Muslim households, shops, and businesses also decorate with banners and lights to mark the occasion.
During this month, those who are able to spend most of their days at mosques in prayer and worship will do so, while others continue to observe the fast while going about their normal routines. As the hour of iftar approaches, friends and families gather to break the fast and offer the Maghrib prayer. It is quite common for Muslims to invite their neighbors to their homes for iftar, despite differences in religious beliefs. That is one of my favorite things about Ramadan — that it brings people together. It is also a time for forgiveness, fostering love, and bettering relationships not only with God, but also with those around us.
Following iftar, people make their way to the nearest mosque to pray Isha — the final required prayer of the day — and Taraweeh, a special set of prayers offered only during the month of Ramadan.
Where I'm from, returning home from the Taraweeh prayer is an adventure in itself, since most shops remain open and the city gets very lively. The final days of Ramadan will be even more hectic as people prepare for the Eid ul-Fitr celebration, during which thousands of Muslims will gather to offer the Eid prayer at sunrise. While some Eid prayers take place in mosques, most occur in large, open spaces. In the capital city of Addis Ababa, roads will be closed for miles on end just to accommodate this unique occasion.
The month of Ramadan means different things to different people. For me, it is a beautiful blend of food, spirituality, and family.