Ramadan is a spring cleaning for Muslims. Recharging, reviving and refreshing is inevitable for those who take the month fully on. For Muslim expats, making a run to their native lands in this blessed month, is crucial for feeling Ramadan the most.
Even if you aren’t from a Muslim majority country, why shouldn’t you jump on the bandwagon? Here’s some points to help you consider if you should travel for your next Ramadan.
1 – Feed Your soul
Expats love to spend Ramadan in their county of birth or origin because they get to taste the usual flavors associated with Ramadan. Sure, you can make your ancestral food anywhere these days with international groceries markets, however, the food tastes different on the mainland and the atmosphere is also something you can’t purchase in a store or even try to recreate. It’s simply not possible. Therefore, Ramadan is a time where they feed their souls spiritually, including by buccal administration. Food has an incredible spiritual aspect. It improves mood and literally feeds it. Imagine a Ramadan of all-access halal too.
2 – Have a Festive Eid
Imagine all your neighbors celebrating Eid. That’s what an Eid overseas is like. After a few exciting shopping-filled nights, whole communities dress up to go to the mosque, they visit one another afterwards; it’s a national holiday with a full holiday feel to it. In the West, people who can afford to take a day off do so. That said, many feel like even if they take a day off, the atmosphere is still not the same. So, they work. Instead of rightfully celebrating they are agonizing, homesick and missing their actual friends and relatives on this special day.
My childhood best friend who used to live in the UK but now lives in Paris with her nuclear family confirms that the atmosphere in Ivory Coast during Eid is not comparable in the West, and she has tried in vain to create something similar. Therefore, she tries to celebrate back home these days around her friends, family and relatives.
3 – Spend Less on Holiday Foods
Expats vouch for the fact that food expense is quite cheap when you go back to your native land. Buying ethnic food outside the local land is exorbitant when it’s not even fresh to begin with; most of these goods are frozen and the plane ticket to import them is added to the cost of the goods. Expats rather eat the fresh food locally right from the soil with its taste still palpable.
Yes, you have to buy a plane ticket to access these foods, but if you travel regularly anyway, why not buy a ticket with the intention to have a rich Ramadan experience?
4 – Take Advantage of Nature’s Loopholes
Many expats usually come from places around the world where their countries sit right on or closer to the equator; meaning they have roughly equal amount of days and nights. In these parts of the world, the sun rises around 6 a.m. and sets around 6:30 p.m. That’s nice when you have to fast, especially compared to northern lands where fasting times can go over twelve hours in the summer. This natural loophole makes it easy for you to eat and rest after the early iftar. As a result, you can face Tarawih and other nights prayers easily before suhoor.
My hafiz stepfather (masha’Allah) insists that it is way easier to perform the last ten nights of Ramadan in Africa for him because of these reasons.
5 – Reconnect with Loved Ones
(Or find new ones!) Many Muslim expats still have huge families and even spouses left behind in the pursuit of happiness or for other needs. Ramadan is the perfect time for them to be with their husbands, wives, relatives and even children they left behind. My mother does this every year to see my grandmother, her recently late husband (may Allah be pleased with him), her siblings and other relatives. She always comes back refreshed and ready to hustle again. If you get a chance to chat with an expat while they are spending Ramadan in his or her mainland, you will notice their refreshed and high spirits because they feel loved and surrounded by good people, their people.
6 – Break the Cycle of Sad Eids
Eid should never be a melancholy event. Break the cycle. Last Eid I traveled to see my family, and we had a good time, alhamdulillah. Though it wasn’t outside the US, it spurred me on and now, just as my mom has always done, I also plan to make my own run to Ivory Coast one day soon insha’Allah, to re-experience a true holiday.
I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Eid wherever you are.