Seeing people of different nationalities together is the starting sign of Ramadan.
The imam decided to start the sermon by congratulating us all. “The best month is here,” he said. The mosque was full, as always. This mosque is very popular because the sermon is in Dutch (most of the time), so everybody can understand it.
This is where many converts like me go to. But not just us, it’s a mosque with Moroccans, Turks, Somalia’s, Nigerians, Egyptians, Indonesians, Japanese… It is like you start the Ramadan with the entire Ummah (Muslim community). I love this place.
When the sermon was done, I got into my car and drove to my wife’s workplace. She’s done when I got there, and together, we drove to her family where we ate and discussed our Ramadan plans.
The Tarawih Prayer starts this night, so I stand next to my brother-in-law in line as the imam starts with surat Al-Baqarah. Now I really knew, Ramadan is here!
I have a job to do at a customer’s office this night, so I work till 3 AM and then get in the car for a one hour drive back to the mosque in Rotterdam.
On my way, I’m stopped by the police for a routine alcohol check. As I roll down my window, the officer hears the Quran recitation from my radio. “Well,” he says with a smile, “this shouldn’t be much of a problem”.
I got to the mosque in time for dawn Prayer and when we were done, I had a short chat with some brothers.
This Ramadan, we have big plans. Our dawah foundation has received thousands of books for us to distribute to non-Muslims. Also, we have a bunch of lectures to organize and think of for the year to come. Luckily, I was able to get three weeks leave from my job so we should be able to get some things done ins ha’Allah.
However, before I can really start working with the brothers, I have four more days ‘in the office’. I’ll have to work and fast, and as the only Muslim in our office there’s a lot of food, drink, and candy around all day. But I know: been there, done that.
I drive home and finally get to lie down and sleep for a while. It’s 7 AM. These first hours of Ramadan didn’t pass by unnoticed. I hope that goes for the 29 days to come as well.
By Nourdeen Wildeman