Remembering the beauty of the Holy month

ALJAZEERA

NEGATIVE
Israel’s genocidal war has destroyed the joy of the holy month.
The holy month of Ramadan has started.
But for us, the Muslims of Gaza, this holy month is filled with heartbreak and mourning.
Amid the buzzing of Israeli drones and the sound of explosions, I close my eyes and remember the splendour of Ramadan in Gaza.
The preparations for the holy month would always start early.
For the people of Gaza, Ramadan is indeed the most special time of year.
Gaza during Ramadan is the most beautiful place on Earth.
But this holy month, we cannot celebrate and enjoy worship in peace.
As the holy month of Ramadan begins, we are bidding farewell to martyr after martyr.
The pain is made that much worse by the realisation that the world has abandoned the Palestinian people, allowing Israel to continue its genocide during the Muslim holy month.

The joy of the holy month has been shattered by Israel’s genocide war. Only our fond memories are left now.

Ramadan has begun, the holy month. Muslims everywhere are giving themselves over to prayer and worship, spending time with their families, and fasting. However, this holy month is a time of sorrow and grief for us Muslims in Gaza.

We have been subjected to atrocities, disease, starvation, and thirst at the hands of the Israeli army for more than five months. Since Ramadan has begun, its savagery and violence have not decreased or stopped.

The memories of previous Ramadans keep us warm, even though many of us struggle to find a safe place for prayer or to put food on the table for breaking fast. I close my eyes and recall the beauty of Ramadan in Gaza amid the sound of explosions and the buzzing of Israeli drones.

Countless hours would be spent getting ready for the holy month. People would go shopping for all the necessities of Ramadan several weeks in advance.

The Old City, with its historic market, Al-Zawiya, is a favorite destination. There were all the staples of a traditional Ramadan meal: sour pickles, the best dates, delectable olives, aromatic spices, dried apricot paste for qamar al-din drinks, dried fruits, and a variety of juices, the most well-liked of which was khoroub (carob).

Buying new clothes would also be essential. Popular options would include prayer robes, elegant costumes for the boys, and fancy dresses for the girls.

With the words “hallou ya hallou, Ramadan Kareem ya hallou” (which translates to “dear, dear, Ramadan Kareem, dear”) displayed on display, kids would tug on their parents’ hands and beg them to purchase one of the bright lanterns.

There would be a lot of people in the streets, decorations would be being put up, and upbeat Ramadan music would be playing. There would be an atmosphere of anticipation unlike any other.

Gaza’s neighborhoods would then be alive with the sound of tarawih prayers on the eve of the first day of Ramadan. On the first day of the holy month, the children would celebrate by playing in the streets, holding lanterns, chanting, singing, and letting off fireworks until late.

Families would gather to pray together for Fajr and share the Al-Suhur meal. Some would then take a nap, while others would leave for work or school. Everyone would return home by the afternoon, at which point it would be time to read the Holy Quran. In mosques or at home, children would read and commit the verses to memory. To their children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents would narrate stories about prophets.

After that, it would be time to start preparing the iftar meal. There would be a delicious aroma of different foods filling the entire neighborhood an hour before sunset. Every home would have a crowded kitchen where people were laboring hard to prepare dishes like musakhan (a chicken dish), maqlouba (a meat dish with rice and vegetables), and mulukhiya (jute soup).

He would not be permitted to return home empty-handed, of course, if a neighbor happened to stop by and bring a platter full of the food his family had just prepared.

The iftar table would be set and everyone would take a seat as dusk was drawing in. The sound of takbirat would soon accompany the call to break fast from the mosques. Everyone would eat the delectable food together while laughing and chatting happily.

Men, women, and kids would gather in the mosques to pray tarawih together after iftar, filling the entire Gaza Strip with the sounds of the Holy Quran and prayers. The children’s favorite part of the day would then arrive as moms prepared qatayf, a well-liked dessert that is only made during the holy month.

Families would get together in front of the TV to watch their favorite Ramadan series or go visit one another once the qatayf was finished.

Indeed, Ramadan is the most wonderful time of year for the Gazanian people. The world’s most beautiful place is Gaza during Ramadan.

We are unable to worship and celebrate in peace during this holy month, though. The flashes and explosions of Israeli bombs have taken the place of the lanterns and colorful lights, the chants and songs. Screams from people buried beneath the debris following another Israeli bombardment have replaced the happy sounds of kids playing outside in the streets. The once vibrant neighborhoods have become cemeteries. Mosques are demolished, so there aren’t many people in them. The streets are completely covered in debris, so there aren’t many people walking around on them. Individuals who lack food or water fast past iftar.

Rather than greeting and celebrating, the families come together to grieve their loved ones. We are saying goodbye to martyr after martyr as the holy month of Ramadan gets underway.

Realizing that the world has turned its back on the Palestinian people and allowed Israel to carry out its genocide during the Muslim holy month only serves to exacerbate the suffering.

The opinions presented in this piece are those of the writer and may not accurately represent the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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