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7 June 2018 01:58 pm

Ramadan: A culture of thanks

ILQ Staff
ILQ Staff
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by Vodafone Qatar

Ramadan is a time for self-less giving, blissful family get togethers and most importantly gratitude for the little things. To mark the Holy Month, Vodafone Qatar has launched a nation-wide campaign titled “Shukran” or ‘Thank You” in Arabic. The campaign aims to encourage people in Qatar to take the time to reflect, show their appreciation for the little blessings in life and keep “Shukran” going.

Whether it’s your first time fasting or you’ve been doing it for years, whether you are Qatari or have been living in the country for years, we all have our way of celebrating Ramadan. We caught up with some of Vodafone Qatar’s employees to see how each one of them marks the Holy Month, what makes their cultural rituals unique and how each one of them shows gratitude to the people and things that matter in their lives.

In Qatar, neighbors become family…

“I think it’s very important for families to keep their traditions alive, especially when they have young children in the house – that’s how they learn to embrace their culture. It is difficult to choose one Ramadan tradition to talk about because there are a lot of unique rituals – from using it as a time to get closer to Allah to celebrating the iconic Garangao where children get to dress up, sing special songs and receive candy. Watching them brings back so many memories from my childhood.

However, if I have to choose one, it would be the exchange of food between neighbors. It is not something that is usually done outside of Ramadan, basically, we would send a plate of food – whatever we had cooked that day – to our neighbors and they would return the plate with a dish of their own. It’s a spontaneous sense of goodwill that brings people together.

To me, gratitude is about showing appreciation to the people in your life. I like to invite my friends over for a delicious meal or a fun game of football; it’s my way of showing them that I am grateful for their presence in my life.”

-Mohammed Al Yafei

In Sri Lanka, friends are always considerate…

“Just like in Qatar, Ramadan in Sri Lanka is all about family. We spend the month rotating from one family house to another. The only difference is the type of food we have when breaking fast. In Qatar, we would have rice and meat, but back home we have a dish called Congee - a type of rice porridge – that we have right after breaking the fast with dates and water.

I would like to highlight a tradition that is uniquely ours, but is also linked to the spirit of gratitude and appreciation that marks the Holy Month. In Sri Lanka, our working hours don’t change during Ramadan and people are allowed to eat in front of you. It is interesting, because it makes the concept of self-control all the more challenging, so you really come out of Ramadan a different person. However, people are generally very considerate, I remember insisting that my colleagues can eat in front of me but they always went the extra mile to be considerate. That compassion and camaraderie is beautiful to see and as a kind of appreciation, we usually prepare a dessert called Wattalapan – a coconut custard pudding made of coconut milk or condensed milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, eggs, various spices, including cardamom, cloves and nutmeg – that we distribute as we get closer to Eid. It really is about the small things in life.”

-Mohammed Akram

In Syria, family always comes first…

“I have been living in Qatar for over nine years now. In general, Muslim and Arab countries have slight differences in the way they celebrate Ramadan or Eid. My family and I try to keep our culture alive, especially at home, but we have also embraced and adapted to many aspects of the Qatari culture. When it comes to Suhoor for example, rather than rice, Syrians generally like to have dishes that include dairy products because they have a cooling effect.

Most importantly, family always comes first. The first day of Ramadan must be spent with the eldest of the family, be it the father or the eldest brother. It’s a form of respect and so we always get together and have the first Iftar at my eldest brother’s house.

Gratitude? To me it is about going beyond just words. For example, if my wife has spent the entire day working and preparing Iftar, the minimum is saying Thank You. But I also try and do something nice for her, whether it is taking her out for Suhoor or buying a small gift. It’s about tangible actions and showing your loved ones that you care rather than just saying words.”

-Yousef Abdul-Salam

In Pakistan, traditional dress takes center stage…

“The type of food we eat in Pakistan is very different from the food we eat in the Arab world. Pakistani cuisine is usually very spicy and that doesn’t change during Ramadan. The Holy Month is typically marked by a lot of invitations for Iftar and keep in mind that families in Pakistan are very large, I mean there were about a thousand people at my wedding and they were all family!

One thing that I try to keep alive during Ramadan here in Qatar, is wearing my traditional Pakistani dress when I go to the mosque or get invited to Iftars. It’s a gentle reminder of home and I am proud to wear it.

To me gratitude is about being thankful to everything I have in my life. I try to show that in Ramadan by being as charitable as I can. I think it is important to give back, so I try to do more to support the causes I care about, whether it is via donations or volunteering.”

Doha is truly a serene collection of cultures and traditions, all coming together in a harmonious painting called Ramadan. As the Holy Month comes closer to an end, it is important to make the best of what makes it so special.

-Muhammad Khan

And you, how do you celebrate Ramadan and show gratitude?

For more information about Vodafone Qatar’s Shukran Campaign: