Traditional Ramadan Lanterns displayed on Egyptian streets

by Karim Adel, Open Democracy, 23 July 2012

It’s safe to say Uncle Ramadan is not going to sleep while he’s with us this year…

Uncle Ramadan is back and to Egyptians he’s back after what seems like a long while…

Although it’s an annual event this is the first time in two years that we celebrate without any turmoil and under a civil president… so it’s just safe to say Uncle Ramadan is not going to sleep while he’s with us this year…

Tunis Traditional Ramadan Lanterns displayed on Egyptian streets

You can see him walking down the old ancient alleys in the Al Hussein area in Islamic Cairo making sure all the colourful lights are hung well from building to building, he’s making sure all the giant colourful [12] lanterns [13] are hanging on every balcony…

He’s passing from home to home to make sure everyone, poor or rich gets a chance to eat after sun set…

He makes sure all those who have money have gathered some to give out to the poor and that every area and street has at least one charity group meal, set up for the poor and homeless every day of the 30 days of fasting…

He’s double checking to see if the Mesaharaty [14] is awake to walk down in his neighbourhood beating the drum one hour before dawn to wake up everyone to go grab a last bite before the next day’s fasting starts..

What’s left? Oh yes, we have to pass by the bakery and make sure all the Konafas [15] are done well, imagine how unhappy us Egyptians will be without a great Konafa dessert after Iftar Uncle Ramadan…it remains a mystery to me how they turn dough into those long delicious golden strings..

What? OK Uncle. I will turn on the radio for you. I know this is a month of ritual for you, especially in Egypt, where a week mustn’t go by without hearing the Holy Quran being recited in Sheikh Refaat’s voice, that voice that comes right from his soul without the need of vocal cords… such small things are what makes this month different in Egypt from anywhere else on the planet…

I know how much you missed us Uncle Ramadan, last year, when you tried to visit but the streets were full of blood, and our air was filled with anger and tear gas.. We tried to welcome you to join us in Tahrir, but our own military, our own flesh and blood attacked us and tore down our tents and beat us up… and when some of us tried to hide in the mosque next to the Tahrir compound, they dragged them out by force in the Holy Month, during the daytime hours of fasting while they were yelling Allahu Akbar!

I know what you saw last year was so disgusting to sit through and I know you had to leave and all of your beautiful rituals were taken away with you. All you left us with was a reminder that we can have faith and we can carry out our basic rituals and not to forget that God will be on our side. That faith left many of us in the past year…

But luckily for us some of us didn’t lose it and it’s because of them that God is still taking care of this region and of us as people….

This year Uncle Ramadan we are enjoying you the way Egyptians always specially enjoyed you, in joy, faith and peace..

This year we will use your presence to increase that faith that tomorrow will be better..

And as a gift, you arrive here with the great news that our brothers in Syria are approaching their long-awaited freedom and that Damascus is now free and that Bashar has fled to a coastal city. Well, we have a request Uncle Ramadan, before you leave us this year, take him and Mubarak and all that evil circle of men with you, help us make this place the happy peaceful place it once was…

We hope we can both enjoy your stay this year and enjoy each others’ presence..

Your birthday is the same day that God created earth and that God revealed to Jesus that he will be the Messiah and it’s also the month that God started revealing the holy Quran to Prophet Mohammed…

Your last 10 days of your visit is a time where the gates of heaven are open and all prayers are answered, so it’s a month that should be celebrated by all humanity..

Therefore I’ll pass on your message to everyone else and tell them, no matter what religion… pray well this month, God listens to all and the whole world needs prayer now…

Ramadan Karim to everyone…