[Indonesia Report] How to keep Ramadan in foreign countries

A group of Sohuur Orchestra touring through the neighborhood in a pick up car in Makassar, Indonesia. (Photo: detik.com)

Some men come out at dawn, drag loudspeaker that plays religious song around the neighborhood while shouting “sahur…sahur…sahur….”, or Suhoor in Arabic which is in Islamic term referring to meal before fasting starts. This is a common scene that can be found in Indonesia during Ramadan month.

They call out the neighbors to wake up and have suhoor before the sun rises. In Indonesian Muslim community, togetherness in Ramadan month is essential to remind each other to fast and keep the heart peaceful.

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, has its own tradition on fasting month. After fasting for 12 hours, Indonesian Muslim break the fast by eating sweet desert called Kolak, a dish made of slices of bananas and sweet potatoes with coconut milk and palm sugar soup that is usually served cold.

Kolak, Indonesian traditional food, common desert during Ramadan month (Photo: Lunch.com)

After having dinner and do the fifth prayer, Muslims will go together to mosque for taraweeh, extra prayer that Muslim do in Ramadan month.

The experience of fasting is different in each country. In four season countries, Muslims have to fast for longer period of time due to the longer daytime in summer.

In Korea, the fasting time is sixteen and a half hours a day this year. Different circumstances bring different experiences for Muslim to fast in foreign country.

Hazizah binti Ali, a Malaysian graduate student at Korea University who has lived in Seoul for more than 2 years, expressed her feeling on fasting in Korea.

“I feel much better to fast here. Despite of the longer period of fasting, the weather is not as hot as in Malaysia.”

She added that even so, she still also missed the feeling of fasting at home with her family and friends.

“……but I can not avoid the feeling of being foreign and to prepare meals and break fast alone.” Hazizah said.

Another Muslim living abroad, Ahda Fajri, Indonesian Student at Seoul National University, asked about his experience fasting in foreign country, he explained, “The atmosphere is totally different because people do not fast here.”

“It is hard to find food because he lives in student dormitory and they were not allowed to cook there. By the time of breaking fast, the dormitory cafeteria has already closed,” he said.

“People here wonder how I can stand to fast. They asked me if I don’t feel miserable to do my activity without eating and drinking,” he went on to say.

Ahda said then he explained them that he has done it since his young age, so he can bare the hunger and thirst.

This Korean Language and Literature student said that he learned a lot while fasting in Korea. He said that he learned to be more patient and it is more valuable because it is harder to fast in foreign country.

The London 2012 Olympics symbol and countries' flags (Photo: loon watch.com)

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to experience this because it taught me to be more tolerant and be in control myself more freely.” Ahda added.

At the same time, during this Ramadan month, 2012 Olympics will be held on July 27th in London. Huffington Post reported that more than 3,000 Muslim athletes would compete in the Olympics this year.

Many athletes decide to compete while fasting, while many others decide to postpone their fasts until their competitions end.

Meidyana Rayana Intern Reporter news@theasian.asia

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