The Multi-Cultured Ramadan

September 9, 2008

Dubai is a multi-cultured city, with people from almost all parts of the world. And so is Ramadan here. I think the only similarity between these people will be the dates they take when breaking the fast. Even prayers seem to be different, if you really want to find any difference in it. When I go for tharaweeh, Masha Allah, what lots of people are there! With so many types of dresses, so much languages and yeah, so many type of prayers. Until Ramdan, I went to the masjid by the Malayalees, and so I never came across such a variety except while performing Umrah in Masjid-al-Haram.

Well, there are the Africans, may be Sudanese with their long hijab (I don’t know what it is really called) reaching below their knees. They are so tall and I feel so small when I stand with them during the prayer. The masjid near to us has got the 23 raka’th tharaweeh prayer. The Africans usually pray all of the 23 raka’aths.

There are some UAE nationals too. They come up fully covered from head to toe, with only the eyes opening. Once inside the ladies’ only area, they remove their abaya and hijab – and beneath it, it will be dresses similar to the western styles, sleeveless T shirts, jeans pants reaching up to the knee, or long sleeveless/ full sleeve but see through frocks. And there will be all sorts of make up on their faces.

There are also some Pakistanis who come in their Salwar-Kamees, with an abaya on top. The difference with the Pakistani and South Indian dressing is that Pakistanis use the shawl of their Salwar-Kamees as the hijab, but in South India we use the black hijab of the abaya itself. North Indians also have a similar dressing to that of Pakistanis. Some Pakistanis also wear the Niqab, which is very very rare in South India. During the prayer, most of the Indians and Pakistanis stop at the 8th raka’ah, to be continued only during the last three of the remaining 15.

There is one woman who looks like a westerner, and speaks English. But there are so many who look like them and speak English like them. So I’m not sure. There are also other Middle East nationals coming from Lebanon and Iran. I love the way the Iranians dress – their long (????) I don’t know what it is called, a piece of cloth from head to toe which they wear while at prayer. After prayer they take it off, and beneath it they wear the usual dress – also my favorite, the topcoat and pants with a special type of hijab. I saw some Iranians keeping a piece of wood, round in shape, at the place where their head touches the floor while in Sujood. I don’t know why.

Some days I see some Mongolians too, I don’t know if they are from China, Japan or the –asian islands. They have long hijab, reaching up to their knee, and wear loose pants, made up of the same material used for the hijab, underneath.

The minor differences I find between the people are while standing for the takbir. Some tie their arms below the stomach, some on their stomach, some on their chest while some never tie it at all. Some of them tie their arm when standing straight after the rukoo’h. And while sitting for the ‘Aththahiyathu’ during the second raka’h, some people keep their fore finger straight all the time. Some open it at the ‘ashhadu alla ilaha illa allah…..’ and close it immediately after that. Some keep on pointing the forefinger till the end of the prayer, while some keep it opening and closing through out the sitting position.

I pray only 8 raka’aths, and then continue with the last three, so while waiting for the last three, I sit and watch all these differences between people. And the children, they also make a difference. While the Pakistani and Indian children are busy playing around while their moms are at prayer, the children of Middle East nationalities stand with their moms in prayer. May be the reason is, in India (I don’t know about Pakistan), the Imam and other people of the mosque discourage children in the masjid. So they never get a chance to learn the importance of masjid at the younger age. But in Middle East, it is entirely different. You can see children from 3+ months in the mosque. They get to learn the importance of prayer and masjid at a younger age.

About thte iftaar, I don’t know much about the food of other countries, because I have never gone for such an iftaar. Once I went to an iftaar by a UAE national. There were many dishes of which I didn’t even know the name. I recognized the haleem and custard. The main food was kabsa, and I loved it a lot. It was a dish prepared of raw rice.

So, Ramadan is fun, with this variety in the muslims. You can call it – unity in diversity


7 Responses to “The Multi-Cultured Ramadan”

  1. Umm Ibrahim Says:

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Masha’Allah I really enjoyed this post – I enjoy people watching too and seeing the variety of muslims we have in the ummah… the different ways of wearing hijab fascinates me. Being a British convert to Islam I have no cultural style of my own but choose the style I like best. It fascinates me that you can often tell a persons nationality just by the hijab on their head.

    As for the thing the Shi’as place their head on, it is a clay stone called a ‘Torba’as they believe that it was the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad saw to pray directly onto the earth only and we shouldn’t use prayer mats AFAIK.

    Umm Ibrahim

  2. Redwan Ahmed Says:

    Ma’shallah sis, by the way why are you not writing posts in my website?

  3. Redwan Ahmed Says:

    like your doing right now

  4. Tee Says:

    Salaam Alaikum!

    Ramadan Mubarak! First of all, thank you so much for the lovely comment you left me about my summer photos. Indeed they can be looked at like a poem! I had many things happening this past summer and thought it would be a good idea to wrap it all up in photos so that after many years I can look back and be reminded of all those times!

    This was a great post! Unity in diversity! So true 🙂 It’s great that they all come together and pray in the same place even though they have minor differences in prayer. After all, God is one and so is His book and messengers and message. May we all be guided on to his Heavenly lit path 🙂

    I also love the title of your blog, dance with rain drops, howwww beautiful 🙂

    InshAllah you are doing well and enjoying this wonderful Holy month of peace. May God bless you with his love and mercy!

    I’ll visit again! Keep up your space, it’s great!

    All the best,


  5. Tee Says:

    Wow! I also just read your latest entry ‘the poem’. So engaging! I’m glad you got in touch with your friend, Ramadan is such a great time, I’ve been doing the same with people I’ve lost contact with, life is really too short for no communication!

  6. Najeeba Says:

    @Ummu Ibrahim: There is a lot of diversity in our religion. Thats wonderful sometimes, but I hate it when people get into fights with others for such minor differences. How can they tolerate people from other religions if they can’t tolerate just another way of thinking in our same religion?
    @Redwan :I don’t know what to write for your blog, ‘coz I find t full of Hadiths and stories of Prophet Muhameed(saw). I don’t think I’m as good as you in those matters.
    @Tee: Glad to see you here. Thank you for the comments. May God bless you too, and may Him make us meet in His Paradise.

  7. Aysha Says:

    Lol!!U feel small compared to the Sudanese?
    Well I guess we Africans are pretty tall.
    And the reason for doing all tha rakaahs-I don’t know about other Africans but for me it was the sharp look my mum would give me everytime I said I was tired from doing a few rakaahs….
    Nywayz Nyc blog…

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