Friday, September 21, 2007


Many of you have asked about Ramadan in Senegal. The truth is, it's not that different. I was expecting lanterns and decor... but in all honesty, Mom's decorations in Kanata are more than anything I've seen here!

There is a difference though of being in a country where you're surrounded by other Muslims. First of all, the Adhan (call to prayer) sounds five times a day, not just during Ramadan, but always. Secondly everyone around you is fasting, waking up early in the morning, praying, etc. The scene outside isn't anything spectacular, but you will see people preparing food around eating time. The traffic is either really bad, cuz everyone is rushing home to eat, or the streets are empty, cuz everyone is already home. The other day, I saw a police officer patrolling with a cup of coffee in one hand and a piece of bread in the other, so that he would be ready to eat when the time came. No one looks at their watch to know when to eat, they just wait for the Adhan. And they do things a bit differently here. In Canada, we break our fast on a date or something, pray, and then eat a big meal right away. Here, they break their fast on dates, coffee (they love their coffee), and bread and butter. Then they pray. Then they wait about half an hour, 45 minutes before eating. It's actually a great system, because your body digests the snack and you feel more full, so you don't over-eat and shock your empty stomach. (Apparently the reason we don't do this in north america, one of the guys at the house told me, is that we have no time. we are always rushed. But in Africa, "we have all the time in the world!"

They wake up at 5:30am here for suhur, just like in Canada, only the food consists of rice and meat (the leftovers from the day before). A little too heavy for me first thing in the morning!

I've gotten into the rhythm of praying five times a day. The other day, Atouman's sister and I went to the mosque after eating to pray 'isha (the evening prayer). It's so hot (and i imagine crowded) inside the mosque that most people line up outside the mosque. We just brought our prayer carpets and prayed on the street. Even with the wind, it is sooo hot under the tarha (head scarf). The one I wear was made in Saudi Arabia, where I thought they would know to make heat-sensitive garments. But obviously not. I was sweating like crazy! And the imam was going so fast that it was really like exercise, which only increased the sweating!

They call Ramadan the Karem, and everyone always asks "et comment va le Karem?" so you feel you are participating in something with everyone else, which is nice... The American girl staying here now, Chandy, did it for the first few days. Very impressive i have to say, given the heat. It's not the hunger that's difficult here. It's the thirst, because it is so hot, that if you're out and about under the sun, all you want is a glass of water. The first few days, I drank so much when it was time to eat that my stomach hurt!


Asif said...

That reminds me of being in Dubai and praying outside of the mosque. Although we did that because it was Eid and the mosque was full. It felt so much more powerful and meaningful when there was such a large group worshipping together. Thanks for rekindling a warm memory!


Kamal Shaath said...

When are you publishing your book?
I want to buy a copy.... I just love reading your blog...
Yep praying outside in the sun... I have done it many times in Dubai & Kuwait... specially during Friday prayers... and in the summer... you have to watch for metal covers in the group..... They are soooo burns.. and some smart guy would actually run the carpet on top and hide it... Ouch.
Mashallah... when will we get to call you Haja Heba.... Take Care... Keep up your prayers.