By Mudassir Raja
Qatar has quickly become a place known for its heterogeneity with people from all corners of the world making Qatar their second home.
The expatriates obviously come from different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, while Qatar predominately carries its Arab and Islamic culture. The cosmopolitan atmosphere provides an opportunity for a diverse group of people to understand and appreciate different cultures and religions.
In this sense, Ramadan is a distinct period of time when the expatriates from different countries experience new and interesting things. They seem to enjoy experiencing the spirit of Ramadan and how it is observed in Qatar.
Jose Saucedo is a US national. He has been living in Qatar for about two years. Before moving to Qatar, he used to live in Minnesota. During his short stay in Qatar, Jose has made his name as a volunteer who heads a group that runs regular beach clean-up drives.
Community recently spoke to him about how he has been experiencing the month of Ramadan. Jose said: “I did not know much about Ramadan before I moved to Qatar. I always saw it as an important period of the year for the Muslims. I always took it as a tradition of fasting. I did not know much about it.”
Since Jose moved to Qatar, his understanding and knowledge about the month of Ramadan and its true spirit has improved. “Qatar is a Muslim country. Ramadan is greeted with religious reverence and cultural hospitality. My knowledge about the holy month got enhanced in Qatar.
“Now, I know that it is a religious obligation to fast. It is the month when Qur’an was revealed. Each of its 10 days has its unique religious significance. There are more and more prayers during this month. I mean I have learnt a lot from my friends.”
Being in Qatar, Jose’s family has also improved their knowledge of Ramadan. “My children have also learnt about Ramadan and Garango in their school.”
Jose has now started fasting himself to experience the basic human conditions. He fasted only for three to four days in 2018. This year he has been observing fasts throughout Ramadan. “It was really hard in the beginning. After going through the challenge, I have realised that it is like challenging yourself.
“Fasting reminds you of basic human conditions like hunger and thirst. When at the Iftar table we take the first date or first sip of water, we realise how fortunate we are to have food and water. These are the most beautiful feelings.”
Jose finds it exciting that during Ramadan people continue their normal life and carry out their daily activities. “We also kept on cleaning the beach areas during Ramadan. Recently, more than 300 volunteers gathered at Al Zubarah area. We started our clean-up operation at 5pm and finished at 6pm. We had our Iftar at 6:15pm and returned home. There is life in routine during Ramadan.”
Further, he has learnt many good things about Ramadan and the practices that people follow during the holy month. “It is the month of extra kindness and extra generosity. It is always good to be extra kind. The spirit is evident everywhere during Ramadan in Qatar, from large parties in big hotels, Iftar tents to distribution of roadside Iftar packets. It reminds me of celebrations of the Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is the spirit of saying thanks for the blessing that we have from God by giving away the share to other people.” He added: “Ramadan is an embodiment of patience, kindness and generosity. The people of Qatar are genuinely hospitable and they become spiritedly generous during Ramadan.”
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