On Monday, July 28th, most of the Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan with ´Eid-ul Fitr, or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, which is one of the two celebrations in Islam (the other being ´Eid-ul Adh´a, or the Feast of the Sacrifice). That is, most except for at least Morocco. In Spain, I think almost everyone just celebrated on Monday except for Granada´s Mezquita Mayor—a mosque founded by a generation of Spanish converts. I was told that they follow the Sufi branch of Islam. They celebrated ´Eid the next day.
The mosque is decorated with several verses of the Qur´an, and somehow the one in the picture below particularly grabbed my attention last time I was there. The verse says: Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah; and I am not of those who associate others with Him” – Qs 12:108. It is so eloquent when recited in Arabic, and it touches upon one of the five pillars of Islam, namely that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah (i.e. true monotheism) and that Muhammad is His messenger.
Although I sometimes visit that mosque, I decided to follow the country that I am living in to celebrate the end of Ramadan. It was a lovely ´Eid; a little different not spending it physically with family but instead over skype, but I also celebrated it real life with some friends here, ending the day with a delicious tea called “Té Al Andalus” at one of my favorite tea houses, As-Sirat.
Ramadan has been very delightful this year—despite, or perhaps even because of, the long hours. It has not been half as hard as most people predicted it to be, and now you see how quickly this Holy Month has left us. In the end, it was all ´Much ado about nothing´. At least to me, it has truly been a spiritually uplifting experience. I just really love this month, I guess also because of the feeling of unity I seem to feel, not only with fellow Muslims, but also with the poor and the needy, and I love the consciousness that comes with fasting. I hope we will be blessed to live to see another Ramadan in good health, spirits, and peace, God willing. Allahumma ballighna Ramadan.
I liked breaking my fast in the privacy and comfort of my own home, but during the last week of Ramadan a friend of mine and I made it a point to go at least two times to the Mezquita Mayor for prayer in congregation and to break the fast there. The community of Spanish converts (but there are actually more nationalities represented, like American converts, British, and I believe even Swiss ones, and the list goes on) has a tradition of providing a meal for the congregation to break their fast after the sunset—or Maghreb—prayer. The women are seated together in a room and the men in another room to enjoy their meal. This community of converts actually in some instances has been in existence for three generations already, with children and children of children.
The converts, at least here in Granada, also have an interesting style of clothes they wear. They wear the veil, for instance, as a turban, instead of the version that also covers the neck and chest. A shop owner from this community told me that they do that to reconcile both of their worlds: The Islamic one and the Western one, and to maintain an open and accessible attitude and appearance to the secular world they are living in.
It is also a tradition at this mosque to provide couscous for the congregation after the Friday sermon and prayer throughout the year. Christians have their Holy Day of the week on Sunday, Jews have it on Saturday, and for Muslims it is the Friday that is reserved. Normally, the mosque is packed with (Muslim) students or tourists from all over the world, and even non-Muslim friends of Muslims, as the following picture demonstrates, taken somewhere in April this year.
But most of the students have gone back to their respective countries and cities for their summer vacation and to celebrate Ramadan and ´Eid with their families, or because their exchange program ended or for whatever other (summer related) reasons.
I can´t believe I have been here already for more than six months now… It is still a little chaotic, perhaps also because of the Spanish system still, but somehow there is some peace within that chaos and all the work that I still have to do. It is nice though to see that I kind of seem to know how to get things done from the officials here, which is really of great use and help. I had been told by my boss, and also by some other people, that Spanish people are hard to really befriend. I find these kinds of generalizations really hard to process, because I think that in the end, people are drawn to each other based on deeper reasons and connections: Birds of a feather flock together is the saying after all. Truth be told, most of my friends here are internationals, but I do know some Spanish people that I really appreciate, whether it be my favorite cashier at a supermarket here that I frequent, a host Mom I befriended through a friend, a Spanish girl I met during a seminar, or even some of my co-workers who do not work for my organization, but who work in the same building as I do.
But I guess—like we tend to do with ourselves as well—we are hardest towards those who are closest to us. Somehow we seem to hold those nearest to us to higher standards than we would others. Yet the only thing we can really do is try to ourselves be the change we want to see in the world because, in the end, we can only change ourselves. It really is as simple as that.