Ramadan is coming. And I want a quiet one.
Ramadan is coming soon and here in Gaza you can feel it in the air.
For anyone whose never lived the experience, Ramadan might appear to be about food: don’t eat after sunrise, do eat after it sets, but there are many details within a day between these two suns. Everyone is trying to make use of the holy month and feed their souls the best way possible; they read the Quran more often, commit to prayers, do extra prayers, and try to be the best versions of themselves. But no, this is not enough to create a tolerable utopian society, especially a few hours before the Iftar when everyone is tired and tempers easily flare. However, all the weary moments of the long day fade away with the first sip of cold refreshing water when the family sits together over a generous table of frantic dishes. The nights of this month are always special: lanterns replace the modern lighting and colour the neighbourhood alleys with pink, red, yellow, blue and orange, kids fill out the streets running to buy snacks from the supermarkets, and people head to the mosques to pray the last prayer of the day.
It’s a beautiful image, filled with hope, beauty and anticipation. But this land is also the center of conflict and fear. There is a permanent sense of tension, and this year is no different.
Commenting on the recent wave of Palestinian attacks and Israeli military raids in the West Bank, al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, warned that “Israeli attempts to use the [upcoming Muslim holiday of] Ramadan to change the status-quo on Al-Aqsa will result in a furious Palestinian reaction.” He also reiterated that Hamas’s “patience is running out”.
The anticipation of our upcoming Holy Month is slightly clouded by this sense of waiting. And I cannot do anything but wonder, are we, Palestinians, allowed to celebrate a holy Ramadan? Will we be able to live through a calm month, where our souls can be uplifted. Can our leaders wait to show their furious reactions at least until Eid?
Maybe keeping cool and calm in these holy days is the best way to ensure that, at least during Ramadan, we can feel a little bit normal.