I remember when I was about nine, we had just moved back to my parents’ home country of Iran, and I was starting to learn more and more about our culture and religion.
For my first Ramadan, my parents said that I was allowed to fast, but it should be “kalle-gonjishki,” which basically means you’re still just a “small birdy,” and you’re going to eat lunch even though you’re fasting. No snacks though. They said it’s the way kids fast until they grow up and become strong enough to do the “adult” fasting.
Honestly, I have no idea where this concept has come from, but it’s very common in Iran! Anyways, I was excited about being involved and all, and got really hungry by lunch time, so I didn’t question anything.
When I grew older, Ramadan felt more like a month when I got closer to Allah, and felt something holy in the air. I would get up really early, do a night prayer, eat, and then spend the rest of my day having this nice warm feeling in my heart. I can’t exactly describe it; It’s like when you go to a breathtaking place, and you can feel the good vibes, and the history, and the strength it holds within itself.
I remember when Ramadan was during school. Me and my friends would forget that it’s Ramadan and that we’re fasting quite often! We would pop a stick of gum, or go to the water fountain and then smack our foreheads saying, “Crap, I’m fasting!” Then we would just laugh and joke about not reminding each other that we were fasting, so that we could eat.
I personally believe that the feeling of warmth and connection with Allah can come at anytime throughout the year. Whether you’re in a country where everyone celebrates Ramadan, or somewhere that no one but you does, it’s the heart that matters.
In Iran, there was this TV show that was only on for the month of Ramadan. It was called, “Mahe Asal,” which means honeymoon, referring to Ramadan. The show brought in people who have gone through difficulties in their life, and gave them a space to share their stories. It was famous for making people cry. I don’t know if they’re going to have the show this year, but I loved it, and was excited about it every year. It just added to having a perfect Ramadan.
I don’t know what happened, but after moving to the US, I never felt that connection with Ramadan again. It’s as if I’m far away from that breathtaking place. As if Iran was making Ramadan so special for me. The old Persian homes, with a yard and a small garden; the sound of Adan from the Masjid across the street; the neighbors offering foods for iftar, and the peaceful feeling in the air…
I personally believe that the feeling of warmth and connection with Allah can come at anytime throughout the year. Whether you’re in a country where everyone celebrates Ramadan, or somewhere that no one but you does, it’s the heart that matters. I don’t know how, or if, I will fall back into that old, sweet experience, but it’s a journey on its own. It’s a journey to find your connection and what makes you feel warm inside.
I wish you all a happy and fulfilling Ramadan💚