Category Archives: Ramadhan


As of late the words iftar, hijab, suhoor, eid have been making rounds with increasing frequency in my Malaysian social circles. Most of this come from undergraduates/fresh graduates who are or have studied abroad. In my opinion it would be natural to be using these vocabularies if one has been studying in a country where Arabic is the main spoken language. The crowd who made these terms a trend however, are mainly UK and US university students.

These vocabulary tid-bits are absorbed as the students mingle around with the Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians, and the rest of the multi-ethnic Muslim community abroad. The non-Malaysians making up the Muslim community utilise the Arabic term to describe the various acts of worships because either they are Arabs, or that they do not have terms in their mother tongue to describe it hence the borrowing of the Arabic terms. Malaysians on the other hand, have long since had our own terms in Bahasa Malaysia to match its Arabic origins.

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The above is a quick list of common terms you might stumble on a daily basis. If anyone has any terms that should go into this or words you suspect the result of Arabification or terms you don’t know and would like to know, let me know so I can build a modest vocabulary listing of it for fun đŸ˜‰

Malaysia has always been a curry pot of culture and language. It’s okay to use terms from other languages interchangeably in conversation and writing. In the case of the vocabulary listing above where we already have our own term for it which depicts accurately the teachings in the Quran, I opt to preserve bits of our own culture and wish people Selamat Berpuasa, Selamat Berbuka Puasa, Selamat Bersahur, Selamat Melilit Tudung, Selamat Hari Raya.

There is no point to using Arabic terms simply to sound pious, God knows and understands everything everybodyin the whole wide world says and whisper, even in your hearts.

If you really want to copy the culture of Muslims in the UK or abroad, have a go at dates with cream. Seriously. That was how dates were served every time I go to the mosque for buka puasa when I spent my Ramadhan last year in UK.


Fasting Feasting

This year’s Ramadhan was completely different than all the ones I’ve had before. I observed the sacred month abroad, in a place where the Muslim community is a minority. Where Islam is practiced without the influence of the Malay culture. Where daylight is longer during the summer.

Back in Malaysia, the last few nights of Ramadhan running up to Aidilfitri had always meant lots of rendang, ketupat, lemang and lontong to the point of excessive consumption. I would be eating so much at night I end up lethargic during the day. Before the lontong- rendang-ketupat-lemang marathon would be the Ramadhan bazaar syndrome.

Ayam percik, ayam golek, gulai lemak cili api, ikan bakar, karipap, kuih lapis, dodol, bergedel, cendol. You name it, they have it. When you go to buy food when you haven’t eaten for a day, you will end up buying what your eyes lust. Most of the time about half of the food goes to waste (most Malay dishes don’t last very long even refrigerated, besides, the hygiene levels during preparation isn’t very stellar either).

In Bath, the total Muslim population is around 400 and consist mostly of Pakistanis, Indians and Arabs. So served at the mosque for breaking fast was dates with cream as starters, nasi minyak (but they call it pilau rice, I think) and lamb/chicken curry, vegetable curry, raita, naan, the occasional rice pudding and yoghurt for dessert. To top that, the imam’s wife insist that bring back the left overs and lovingly packed a weeks worth of dinner to carry home.

Alhamdulillah đŸ™‚

I miss the lamb curry now. Heheh.

At the beginning of August, the fasting period was 18 hours. That’s five hours longer than the standard fasting duration in Malaysia. I attended the nightly Terawih prayers and stayed up to read the Quran. Between dusk and dawn I tried to eat moderately and most importantly rehydrate myself by drinking at least half a mug of water at hourly intervals. I would sleep for a few hours after my morning prayers, wake up before noon, ran errands, prayed and then a few hours nap. Wake up again, take a walk around town if the sun isn’t too ferocious, prayed and prepared for breaking fast. After breaking fast I attended to my prayers.

I consider myself lucky to be free this summer. I have the freedom to adjust my daily sleeping patterns without having to worry of being late to work or class. Midway through Ramadhan proved a challenge. I had to pause, reflect and re-strategise my daily schedule to enable myself to sustain my energy levels throughout the day. The weather progressively cooled towards the end of Ramadhan which helped greatly. You feel less like dried squid when the sun isn’t blazing on you while you’re about getting things done outside.

Retail outlets in UK were pumping out R&B and pop music while shopping malls in Malaysia would put on the Aidilfitri songs on replay. I didn’t have the Aidilfitri mood at all during the last week of Ramadhan. Only during the eve of Aidilfitri when I had dinner at a fellow Malaysian’s place where we had rendang and all sorts of Malay fares and had fun playing sparklers afterwards, that I felt like celebrating.

In a way, the lack of “Selamat Hari Raya!” atmosphere encouraged myself to be consistent in the last few nights of Terawih prayers and Quran reading. That was the only way I could not succumb to homesickness all the while.

In solitude, I seek God.

Wishing everyone a blessed Syawal!