(*snickers* See What I Did There? KAREEM? G-uh-REEN?)
Yes, I have procrastinated. I write this blog, however, to push through and finish the arc no matter how late it is. A week isn't too bad in my book, considering this is the first time I haven't gone on a, at least, two month hiatus. I digress.
I was honestly at a loss as to what to write about love regarding Ramaḍān. Is it possible to fathom a time when we would have the means to account for every piece written about love? Not just about romantic love, but about being attached to something and sacrificing for its acquirement, whether it's to acquire it literally or to keep its presence in existence. This post is about how some people have shown love this Ramaḍān.
What we want to keep around varies. I asked friends and family what they think love is in Ramaḍān. The main trends were family, peace, community, and Allah. "Keeping" the peace is subjective, but we already went over loving the idea and goal of peace.
In this part of the world, these topics are interlaced to no end (as is most things in daily life here, come to think of it). Community is so important here, from masjids, to business partners, to acquaintences, the community is family; whether it be by blood, marriage, or family friendships. In order to keep the peace in said family, you have to hold on to Allah while closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Allah is mentioned when speaking to anyone from the community anywhere, either by you two or someone around you. I learned all this the hard way.
I moved to Jeddah in the summer of 2007, after 11 years in Dubai and the states, in hopes of finding myself by "returning to the motherland" as most culturally confused young'uns like to say.
I moved in with my grandmother and everyone else living in her little complex (two uncles, their families, and random kin coming through while in town). Being completely ignorant to family politics, it took me a while to get concepts like complete forgiveness, subtlety, and addiction to having a constant community that cares enough about you to pry into your life.
In Ramaḍān (ah, getting back to the point feels good), the principles of forgiveness and stuffing face to the extent of not being able to talk much morphs the family into a fluffy bed on a lazy morning. How could you not want to be glued to them when it's expected that you'll be home no earlier than 2am, all your friends are perceived as wholesome and don't need to be interrogated, and they're analyzing you to calculate how much ˀeidiyah you get? These feelings resonate and bounce between people to where you have a very mellow Christmas with less eyesores (and that's saying something what with my disdain for holidays).
The only eco-friendly outcome of this is my being happy enough to plan eco-friendly things. I would say everyone being asleep all day also helps the environment, but they make up for it with overconsumption and keeping lights on all night.
This is where the youth initiatives get mentioned. Here, the heads of the houses deal with the yearly do-rights of giving money and food to people in the neighborhood, leaving the young adults to observe. I noticed Twitter literally explode in Jeddah this Ramaḍān and the gradual embrace of Facebook's purpose has been going on for a while, so it's no wonder how earnest restless youth kept the love flowing throughout the month.
The Youth Initiative Group (YIG) held Iftar Sayem, an event where volunteers donated food and distributed to about 300 meals a day. There was also a blood drive held at King Faisal Specialized Hospital. I never understood why, but donating blood isn't something people do here often, which makes it a big deal.
A kind of contest was held by Ta9wery 3ebadty (Ṭaṣwīrī ˀebadtī) called A Picture a Day, the Ramadan Way, which got people to take photos of their Ramaḍān activities daily. I like this. It's hard to get a feel of how all the cliques here are behind the scenes, and I think opening that up helps the community. The huge number of photographers-to-be also seemed to have gained a lot from the exposure. I'm sure a lot more happened, but I haven't come across them.
On a regional scale, there's the en.v initiative, a publication that encourages societies to redefine themselves to become more sustainable (in most cases just plain sustainable). Based in Kuwait, they cover everything happening in the Middle East from politics to art to the environment and how all of it has to do with proactive members of the community.
Finally, here's to peace, love, and food.