My First Ramadhan Outside Afghanistan

April, 30 2022

UIII.AC.ID, DEPOK - Ramadan is observed in Afghanistan and Indonesia, as it is in practically all Muslim countries. This is my first Ramadhan outside of my native country, and it has been exactly the same, with the exception of eating and the "Khatm-ul-Quran" (reading parts of the Qur'an to completion) during the Tarawih.

Iftar and Tarawih prayer at the Masjid Rahmatul lil  'Alamin (Campus Masjid at UIII) were one of the highlights of my time at UIII during Ramadhan. This struck me as a uniquely Indonesian feature, because iftar is not offered in university Masjids in my country, it is usually offered in local community Masjids. 

In Afghanistan, on the other hand, practically all local masjids have Khatm-ul-quran during the Tarawih prayer, and the majority of the community members participate. People bring sweets, tea, and other foods to the masjid at the end of the Khatm, and after the Khatm is finished, they all join together and eat.

Indonesian food is great, however it's a little too spicy for me, as we don't have chilly and other spices in every dish in Afghanistan. When we came together to break the fast every evening, the food served by UIII was unique in taste and brought an exceptional delight. Nasi Goreng, Soto, and Ayam Goreng are some of my favorite Indonesian dishes. During the iftar party hosted by UIII, we had multiple opportunity to devour them. 

In Afghanistan, households usually prepare more than three or four different types of cuisine or dishes during iftar: Shorwa (meat sauce/soup), Pakora (spiced and crispy fried snack), and a type of vegetable cooked with tomatoes and onions are the most typical Ramadhan dishes in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, suhoor (or sahur in Indonesian) consists of sweets such as jam, biscuits, pastries, and sweet bread served with milk tea. In Indonesia, particularly at our beloved International Islamic University of Indonesia, students eat the same cuisine they did at the iftar for suhoor, which is something I truly appreciated about Indonesian Ramadhan tradition, comparable to how people in Afghanistan prepare meals identical to iftar for suhoor.

Another significant difference between Afghanistan and Indonesia is food availability. In my country, it's difficult to find and buy food for suhoor after 10 p.m., however in Indonesia, you can order or simply go out and get food at any time. During Ramadhan, this is Indonesia's specialty.

My favorite memory from UIII is the sense of community that the university has fostered among students, staff, lecturers, and others. We all get together for iftar, maghrib prayer, and the Tarawih, which made me feel at home in Indonesia. I don't think I would have had a comparable experience if I didn't live in Indonesia, so thank you, International Islamic University of Indonesia.

Afghanistan's inhabitants usually begin preparing for Eid two or three days before the holiday. The way Afghans celebrate Eid varies from year to year, from area to place, and from family to family. However, I'll try to list the things that are typical and generally done throughout Eid days. Because their relatives will be visiting them on Eid, Afghans clean their homes and make them appear new. They go out and purchase new clothes, shoes, or sandals. Girls apply "henna" to their hands in the latest styles and enjoy tightening their bonds with their friends. Everyone is having a great time and is looking forward to celebrating Eid.

On the Eid day, they go to the masjid for Eid prayer, and after Namaz, they exchange "Eid Mubaraki" greetings. They then proceed to the homes of family and friends, where they consume dry fruit with green tea, which is an Afghan Eid delicacy. The youth will visit the homes of the elderly to congratulate them on Eid and have their dua; they visit the homes of the elderly out of respect. Eid is particularly memorable for children because they collect "Eidi" from their parents and senior relatives. 

In general, Eid is celebrated in a very calm setting with love by some young people who elect to go out to picnic spots with their friends in order to double their delight of the day.

By Hazrat Shah Kayen, MA student at the Faculty of Education, UIII from Afghanistan.