Written by Momal Rizvi, (American University), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan, Spring 2022
As I’m wrapping up my study abroad, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to experience the holy month of Ramadan in Jordan.
As a Muslim-American, I’ve grown up celebrating Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr (the holiday that Muslims celebrate at the end of Ramadan), but I’ve never had the opportunity to experience this special time in a Muslim-majority country.
During my past semester at American University, the curriculum in my Arabic class covered Ramadan traditions across the MENA region. We learned new vocabulary, watched videos on fasting, and looked at pictures of Ramadan decorations in our textbook. Yet, none of this content does justice to the Ramadan traditions in this part of the world.
About a week before the first day of Ramadan, decorations began to go up all around Amman, particularly downtown. Streets were illuminated with twinkling lights and shop displays began to showcase crescent-moon shaped sweets and Eid al-Fitr dresses. My family and I always decorate our home for Ramadan, so to see practically the entire city covered in lanterns and lights—something I definitely don’t see in my neighborhood—felt incredibly special.
Me in front of the Ramadan decorations in downtown Amman
Another aspect of Ramadan in Jordan that I really appreciate is the sense of community. During the day, people tend to stay home. You aren’t allowed to eat, drink, or smoke in the street, so when the sun is up, especially during the morning hours, there isn’t much going on. However, just an hour before the Maghrib call to prayer, the streets fill with traffic. Everyone is rushing to get last minute groceries or making their way downtown to eat iftar at a restaurant.
The sunset outside of my language partner Aseel’s house. The sunset signifies that it is time to break one’s fast
My roommate Margaux and I went downtown a few days ago to eat iftar, and even though we arrived a half hour before sunset, every restaurant was packed with customers. There were so many people that the streets and alleyways were overflowing with tables of families ready to eat after a fourteen hour fast.
We luckily found a last-minute spot at our go-to restaurant downtown and they quickly brought us some food right before it was time to eat. As soon as the call to prayer began to play, everyone rushed to break their fast with water and dates. It felt so surreal to break my fast amongst so many people versus breaking it with just my family and friends in America.
My roommate Margaux and I eating suhoor together
Although these past few weeks have been filled with sadness about my time in Jordan coming to an end, I feel honored to have the opportunity to celebrate Ramadan here and spend my last days and memories in such a beautiful environment. My first Ramadan in a Muslim-majority country is certainly one that I will never forget.