Ramadan goes way beyond just being a holy month for Muslims here in Egypt. It is at a point where everyone living in Egypt is affected by the Ramadan-ish atmosphere and mysterious calming spirit that lingers in the air. Muslims mix well with Christians here, be it at school or work or anywhere else, and so it doesn’t really come as a surprise when they are included in 3ozoomat or sohour or in the overall religious yet liberating vibe of this holy month. With that being said, how do Christians really feel during Ramadan?
After having done some research (or just asked a bunch of friends who happen to be Christian), Christians here in Egypt enjoy many things that accompany our holy month. They don’t only get to spend time with friends and join them in their happiest of moments, they also get to eat konafa bel manga and samboosek, which is already more than enough to have them look forward to this month. Another plus would be being able to stay out late with friends under the excuse of sohour, especially if you have strict parents. What they also happen to very much love about Ramadan, as many have made sure to make crystal clear, is the mosalsalat.
What’s really special about the relationship of Egyptian Christians with Ramadan, goes much deeper than just konafa and get-togethers with friends. The spirituality that suddenly falls unto most Muslims that mysteriously amplifies the importance of their morals and principles is inclusive of everyone and manages to crawl its way onto our fellow Christians as well. Ramadan is no longer for Muslims only, but rather for all Egyptians. Everyone gets to be a part of Ramadan whether they like it or not. It’s embedded into our culture. At school, we’d all make fawaness out of paper and get to take them home, whether Muslim or Christian. We all get to indulge in the spiritual energy, whether Muslim or Christian. We all get to feel part of something bigger; we all get to have a sense of community, whether Muslim or Christian.
Some Christians may also feel like they have a responsibility towards their Muslim counterparts. My Christian friends always make sure that they avoid eating or drinking when in the company of their fasting friends. Some of them even fast alongside us, whenever they get invited to fitar with friends, in a show of mutual love and respect.
And even though the majority of the population embraces the month’s natural tendency to make people decent for a month, some people find it in themselves to still keep up their different-phobic façade. I’ve heard of some instances where those who happen to be drinking water in a car, or at the Gym or really anywhere in public may get yelled at and called ‘kafer’ or ‘kafra.’ Ramadan is supposed to bring out the good in people, but some find it their job to criticise others. For whatever reason the person you happened to see is having a drink or eating something, you shouldn’t have a problem with it because: a) you don’t know the person and b) Ramadan=be a good. In Ramadan you don’t only fast by avoiding eating, but also by trying to be a better person.
While Christians do not necessarily decorate their homes or neighborhoods like Muslims do, they still are a part of Ramadan in Egypt. My mum and her friends at work bought fawanees for everyone there, including those who are Christians. Christians enjoying Ramadan with their Muslim friends is what really makes Ramadan in Egypt “Ramadan”.