July - Sept 2009, Ramadan

Welcoming Ramadan in Ecuador

By Shahzady Suquillo

August 18, 2009

http://www.readingislam.com/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1248188035705& pagename=Zone-English-Discover_Islam%2FDIELayout&ref=body

A Young Latin American Girl Shares Her Thoughts

In Quito, Ecuador, very soon all the members of the Muslim community will start preparing themselves in body and soul for the happy arrival of the sacred month of Ramadan. How fast this year has gone by!

Considering some aspects of the Western culture here in Ecuador, where no observance for division at social events is taking place, Assalam Mosque has become a unique place for sisters to feel solace and relax.

Another particular aspect is that Ramadan at the Equator in Latin America is a blessing due to daylight and night time being almost equal in length all the year round.

Even though Latino Muslims are a minority segment in the society, their joy starts when they remember that the struggle in Ramadan is being shared by one fourth of the entire world population.

Everyone needs a break in every aspect of life. Just knowing that Satan will be away for the whole month, makes us feel alleviated from his whispering. At the same time, this very same belief is an encouragement to keep up good work.

For the past seven years, Ramadan has given me the opportunity to talk about my religion to my fellow classmates, teachers, and non-Muslim friends. I try to exercise patience by telling them “I cannot eat at this time of the day”, or “I cannot drink for the sake of Allah.”

We try to explain to our classmates that our fasting is prescribed in the Quran, but not because of parents’ pressure.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, things were not that easy at the beginning.

Our parents try to use different methods in explaining the fasting of Ramadan to our school teachers. These methods range from writing daily explanations to the teachers, meetings with the school supervisors, and lately, the Imam of the mosque wrote a guide booklet for educators called, “What to expect when having Muslim children in school.”

This booklet is distributed to all teachers and school professors at the beginning of each academic year.

This educating material was very useful for all kinds of students in towns because it explains all the external aspects of Muslim fasting, especially since I am the only girl among 500 students at school who prays, fasts, and wears hijab.

I thank Allah who gives me the strength at my age, which is 16, to be capable enough to lift up the flag of Islam.

I learned in my early childhood to integrate all aspects of my Muslim life into a non-Muslim environment, because at the end of the day, I know for certain that Allah will reward me, as well as all the believers who seek His guidance and obedience.

By the blessing of Allah this coming Ramadan will be another amazing and unforgettable one.

A blessed Ramadan to all.

Shahzady Suquillo is the Muslim Youth Trustee at the Islamic Center of Ecuador Masjid Assalam in Quito, Ecuador. www.centroislamico.org.ec.