One of the most memorable Ramadhan I have ever experienced is the one I experienced in Germany back in 2009. It is very memorable because of all the new things that both my husband and I had to go through.
To start with, Ramadhan in Germany is never easy because of the duration of the fasting which when I was there, was up to 16 hours. So we had to wake up around 2 am to eat and start fasting at around 2.45 am and we would break our fast at around 6.45 pm. The days were long and hot, as that year Ramadhan fell on summer time. I was lucky to stay at home most of the time while my husband had to be out and about since early in the morning, juggling between work and college.
Yet, on groceries day, I had to drag myself out to buy some food supplies from some Asian or Moroccan shops. I was lucky enough to be a part of Frankfurt Islamic Indonesian Community there, so they informed me on shops which had some halal meats and on food with special codes to avoid as they contained non-halal ingredients. I usually shopped on Saturday and would met up with my husband in the city center before heading to break our fast at one of the mosque nearby.
It was always been very interesting to spend minutes before break fast in the city center, as we could see how moslems from Pakistan,Turkey and many more would stood out from the crowd by wearing their finest traditional clothings just like they did in their home country, as a way to celebrate Ramadhan.
Our favorite mosque for opening fast was the 3-bedrooms-apartment turned into mosque, owned by the Pakistanis near the city center. Although the mosque was managed by the Pakistanis, yet the atmosphere was very international. It felt like being in a melting pot as brothers and sisters from many nationalities were united there because of their faith.
I was awe by the diversity of culture and nationality of all moslems there yet we were in the same spirit to celebrate the holy month. Although we had language barrier, but the warm greet which was uniform for all moslems across the globe and strong hugs always managed to help us lessened the sadness of being away from home.
The friendliness didn’t stop in mosque. I remembered one afternoon when I bumped into a Turkish lady on the bus. As we both wore hijab, without saying anything but greet and exchanged smiles, she suddenly handed me a big loaf of bread! I was so surprised, but then she said while patting my shoulder, “Sister, sister” … MasyaAllah, I was so moved by her good deed, and most, I was moved by the fact that hijab is indeed our identity. All my prayers to her always.
Another interesting things I discovered that Ramadhan was the fact that I can cook! (big grin). Back in Indonesia I always break my fast with fried tofus and fried mixed vegetables with some chillis on the side. In Germany, I couldn’t helped but to have the same opening dish.
To my surprise, my fried tofus were the favorite and became my signature dish in many of the ifthar (brak fast) gatherings we had in Germany both with Indonesian and non Indonesian families.
In all, our Ramadhan in Germany has been a blessing for us. From the experience, we have witnessed how powerful Islam belief is : it diminishes race and nationality yet unifies those who belief. Moreover, we also learn that obstacles shouldn’t stopped us yet they should motivate us to move further and keep pushing to conquer difficulties.
We will use the spirit of Ramadhan in Germany to help us achieve the most in this year Ramadhan : a different battle yet the same firing spirit to achieve Allah’s forgiveness! May we all be granted with the best Ramadhan this year. Aameen …