31st March 2023
Hello neighbor, I hope you are enjoying your day We barely know each other or talk apart from the occasional "Hi!", so I decided to take the initiative and try to overcome the fear of the unknown by sharing with you a glimpse of my country's culture at this time of the year.
In Egypt, one of the special times of the year is the month of Ramadan, The fasting month for Muslims, There would be a lot of decorations and lights in the streets which are put up by locals in residential areas. Fasting is considered the most sincere acts of worship and the reason is that one can be seen praying/giving to charity, and people can say "this is a worshiper /charitable person", But while fasting one can show he is not eating/drinking but may be when nobody is around one can eat and drink, That is why fasting breeds consciousness that God is seeing you although you can't see God. In Egypt, when we congratulate each other with the month of Ramadan we do say "Ramadan Kareem" which translates to "Ramadan is generous".
For two reasons, first is that sincere acts of worship in the month has a generously multiplied reward from God. And the second is that people compete in generosity as well, Boxes of groceries are prepared and distributed to the needy by charities across the country. "Ma'edat Ar-Rahman" which translates to "the Merciful's table" is a tradition amongst people who can do it, cooked food is served daily in Quantities to those who need it in the time of breakfast "Iftar" and to whoever is passing by. Also some churches in Egypt do the same in this month. And the least that must be done, is a mandatory donation of 3Kg of storable food to the poor due by the end of the month, expected from everyone even from babies yet to be born fulfilled by their father. This is for us to remember that the One who provisions for birds does provision for all of us, but only humans were given free will to be tested in this life, hence what we give sincerely is what lasts, while what we keep beyond our daily needs will be left for others eventually, and We were given what we have as a test with wealth to be grateful and generous with those among us who were tested with poverty [to be patient and accepting], as we all will leave this life as we arrived, empty handed.
This generosity made it to Guinness world records: "The longest table measures 3,189.93 m (10,465 ft 7 in), and was achieved by Administrative Capital of Egypt (Egypt) in Cairo, Egypt, on 2 June 2019.The table was used to serve iftar for 7,000 people." Note: Ramadan moves 11 days earlier every year due to that a lunar year is 11 days shorter than a solar year, it does almost one loop in 33 years (11*33=363). By the way I always heard about Guinness world records, and seen Guinness brand everywhere in Ireland since I got here but I never made the connection, fast forward 18 months later I was cycling in Castlebridge, Wexford, and I found out how/where it started! Many charities in Ireland compete as well in feeding the needy, one of them are the "Muslim Sisters of Éire" who organize a generous table weekly all year long, I had the honor last Ramadan to join them at the "Interfaith Iftar Dinner" event, met wonderful people and listened to speakers from other religions, as well as the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Islam (Submission to God's Will) as way of life provides guidelines for followers to adhere to, and everyone actions are to be judged by these guidelines and never the other way around for anyone.
The final messenger of God said: "Indeed I have only been sent to perfect the noble morals." and I witness that he "Peace be upon him" did indeed fulfill that purpose which specifically addresses the relationship with fellow humans in a society. I do strive to have the best manners but I know that I have my shortcomings as a fallible man so please forgive me if you witnessed any. Unfortunately Islam does not have the best image in the media and only extremes make the headlines, mostly the negative ones though, and not much of the positive (If we could consider lining up a row of tables as an extreme!).
One thing that does not get much publicity that Islamic civilization has contributed to human Knowledge accumulation (Science) as commemorated in the dome of The Library Of Congress, and As an Egyptian Muslim Computer Engineer, I feel lucky that I can relate to two of those (I should admit, I had no contribution in that!). I couldn't have been luckier to be in an international diverse city like Dublin with a prevailing spirit of open-mindedness, mutual respect and acceptance exhibited by very welcoming and friendly Irish++ people like yourself. I believe that education is the corner stone of bridges to trust, respect, and understanding across cultures, and
I hope I was able to shed a light on a part my culture and ignite the curiosity to learn about every unique rich culture that adds to the value we bring to our community as neighbors in the beautiful Dublin. I almost forgot, the response to "Ramadan Kareem" is "Allah[u] Akram" which translates to "God is more generous".
Thank you for reading, Mind Yourself,
All the best