Ramadan in Chile
Fareed Maymoun, a Moroccan immigrant, is used to waking up early
to go to his job as a construction worker,
but when Ramadan starts he gets up half an
hour before sunrise. “It’s an important time
for me. For the 3 years that I have been
living in Chile Ramadan has a very special
meaning for me. The first day is marked by a
reunion at the mosque to celebrate another
year, and break the fast together with the
rest of the community.”
Like Fareed, the 3,000 Muslims that live in Chile try to
integrate their lives with their spiritual
beliefs in a difficult environment.
“Christian co-workers are now used to my
fasting. When we are on our lunch break many
openly admire the will of those who are
fasting, although they do not understand why
we do it,” he states.
The first days of Ramadan as well as
the last days are marked by family
visits while children enjoy their
new toys and sweets
The Islamic Center itself fills with children and their parents,
when the prayers are finished families get
together to enjoy the many activities
prepared: popular songs, and delicious food.
“In the mosque a festive atmosphere is evident, people fill the
halls and their children run from here to
there. You hear kul 'am wa anta bikhair,
to wish many happy returns for the beginning
of Ramadan” Nawal Alvarez states.
The majority of families take advantage of this day to eat
together. “We prepare Mote con huesillo,
a special juice with pieces of dried
apricot.” explains Nawal.
“In Morocco Fareed and I would have met with all our relatives,
but here we’re going to eat with some
friends at the mosque. Last year was the
first time to break the fast without my
family and it was very hard”, adds Yasmina,
Nawal and Yasmina have it all prepared for this year, the first
weekend of Ramadan they will organize an
iftar (meal to break the fast) at the
mosque. “We will be eight women cooking and
the menu is a traditional one, first sweet
tea then couscous and dried fruits with many
Ramadan sweets”, explains Yasmina.
The first days of Ramadan as well as the last days are marked by
family visits while children enjoy their new
toys and sweets. However, for those working,
their situation is no different from those
of any Muslim minority.
“The difficult thing is when we are not allowed to leave a short
time before the Maghrib (sunset) Prayers.
For us, it is very important to be with the
family at the Prayers and the breakfast.
Normally we offer to work during lunch
breaks to compensate. But sometimes the
supervisors do not accept,” stated Fareed.
“In Chile it is more difficult than in other
countries because here there are fewer
Muslim immigrants. In France, or Germany,
there are businesses where Muslims are a
majority and they are able to manage their
work hours.” He said.