The 1st of August marked the first day of a special month for Muslim communities all around the world. Ramadan, which is the ninth Islamic month and a period of fasting, is based on a combination of physical sightings of the moon and astronomical calculations. Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. It is a time for Muslims to find patience, spirituality and to offer intensive worship to God (the Arabic word for God being “Allah”). Practices vary slightly from nation to nation and nowadays, worshipers who cannot attend services can download the ‘Salah Clock’ to observe the calls to prayer throughout the day, or use an iPhone to have the Qur’an text with them at all times. However, for most Muslims wherever they are living, it is important to pray five times a day, fast from sunrise to sunset, connect with family and friends, and re-evaluate their lives.
For one woman living in Greece, Ramadan has become part of her life. Anna Stamou was born in Athens in 1973 to Greek Orthodox Christian parents. Anna converted to Islam just over seven years ago as she was trying to get answers to many spiritual questions she had had since she was a very young woman and also about women’s place in contemporary society. She found these answers on her internal spiritual quests by becoming a Muslim. She now shares her life with her husband Naim Elghandour, President of the Muslims Association in Greece (MAG) and her children, in Ilioupolis. Anna has studied Finance and Business Administration, though she was and still is professionally occupied with the teaching of sign language and yoga. The headscarf (hijab in Arabic) that she wears is, she says, part of her faith and women can choose whether to wear one or not.
Regarding Ramadan, Anna was quite happy to share her thoughts with the GreekReporter.
as she stated, “Ramadan, this holy month, is like a landmark where I anticipate to dive deep into my existence and make my year’s self evaluation. It’s a time to consider the past and draw future steps. A month with more religious obligations that come not as a burden, but as a relief. Ramadan also means reading, studying and forgiving, thinking of the needy and not only of the poor, but also of the beloved ones that we have not done enough for. Cleansing ourselves from negative feelings. Even in a country that is living in other rhythms, Ramadan is an inner issue firstly and secondly, a nice period where people become closer to each other.”
On 30th or 31st of August, depending on the new moon that brings an end to their fast, Muslims from all over Greece are expected to gather at the OAKA and SEF stadiums to celebrate the end of Ramadan and to have hopefully established a closer link between themselves and God.