The Approach of Ramadan in Yemen

This is a repost from last year (2007) when my Yemen posts were at my main blog……


Shaban 29.  Ramadan is almost here. 



Living in a Muslim country, alhamdulillah, you “feel it in the air.” And you can see the signs of it……especially in grocery stores.  I had my first grocery store at Ramadan time experience.  Trust me, you don’t want to go to a major grocery store on Shaaban 29 after asr……


We walked into the store thinking that we were going to run in and get a few things.  When we walked through the doors we instantly saw a sea of black in every direction. If I had been smart, I would have turned around and walked back out, but…….


So we headed for the turnstiles—the point of no return. Once you go through those, you can forget it, you are stuck, as I found out.


The aisles were packed, similar to the stores during Christmas Eve, probably, but worse.  And the majority of the people were sisters. Everywhere you looked, as I said, a sea of black (of course, a beautiful sight for a Muslimah from the west.) 


So we attempt to make it upstairs to the school supply section to get some glitter, crayons, etc.  Alhamdulillah I had already done my food shopping.  But we never made it upstairs.  We made it about halfway to the stairs and realized that we were not going to be able to get out of there anytime soon so we scrapped our idea and turned our efforts to “escaping.”


Well that proved to be a challenge, too.  People were pushing everywhere and when I say push, I mean push, as in its one thing to bump into someone, but women and children were actively pushing. Alhamdulillah there are checkout on both sides of the store and we headed towards the back which is usually less populated.  Going through the front, we would not have been able to make it out without going through a checkstand, so that was out.  So minutes later, we found ourselves within sight of the exit and thankfully out onto the street.


Moral of the story: Never go shopping on the last day of Shaban in a Muslim country at a major grocery store if you don’t absolutely have to………


Is it (Ramadan) here yet? (Oct. 2007)


We were asking ourselves on  the 29th of Shaban. We heard people lighting firecrackers outside, but we hadn’t heard any official word by bedtime. Around 3 am or so, we heard that they had announced in Saudi that Ramadan wouldn’t start until Thursday.  But we waited until later to get confirmation for us here in Yemen. My son ventured out at about 8 this morning and ran back with the news that Ramadan did not begin today here.  One of the surest signs was that restaurants were open and people were eating like food was going out of style.  During Ramadan here, the restaurants are not open at all until after Maghrib (or maybe shortly before for people to pick up things like samosas) and it basically looks like a ghost town around town until that time too.


It’s wonderful just before maghrib during Ramadan. Those who are out are scrambling to get home or to the masjid before maghrib.  If you are caught out and the adhaan is called, strangers may offer you some of what they have and if you’re in a store they will usually give you something as well.  When I was in the states, Ramadan was not as big of a deal as it is here and was when we were in Egypt. In a Muslim country, it really feels like a special time of the year, alhamdulillah

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