It’s the 15th day of Ramadan 2012 and I can tell you that Ramadan was far more rewarding back in Canada than it is in the UAE for the simple reason that it is plagued with consumerism here in the UAE.
It has happened with many other festivals. Easter used to be about rebirth and renewal, but now all we can think about is chocolate eggs and bunnies. And Lent, which was a 6 week period of prayer, repentance, and almsgiving now focuses on pancakes and flashy carnivals. And let’s admit it, the religious significance of Christmas has been completely soaked out and you can’t help but think of Santa Clause and Candy Canes. Similarly, Ramadan here in UAE is about Ramadan Tents, luxury iftaars, late-night Soap Operas, and overnight shopping. It is brilliant for those of us who haven’t discovered the beauty of self-reflection. It is not the least bit rewarding, however, for those of us who know the beauty of self-reflection and crave it.
When you’re in a country where Ramadan hasn’t been plagued with consumerism, you become self-reliant in such a way that to re-integrate others through social gatherings becomes daunting. Only 5.5% of Torontonians are Muslims-thus explaining why Ramadan hasn’t been commercialized on a full-scale in Canada. When you’re in a country where Ramadan has not yet been commercialized, you are more likely to let yourself embark on the long late-night prayers and satisfy the true thirst that Ramadan offers to quench. I am truly hungry this Ramadan: hungry for self-reflection and once I gather the strength to deny the urge to indulge in fancy iftaars, I can readily feed this hunger.