Reflection and rejuvenation in the time of Ramadhan

Twenty-one years of age, tall, elegant, articulate, and intelligent, Rahma Al Ruqaishi is the epitome, or perfect example, of the youth of Oman currently studying in higher education in the Sultanate, and who will embrace Ramadhan eagerly.
She credits that family, schools and teachers equally, with her excellent command of the English language, and her ability to function effectively in the demanding world of academia. She chatters with enthusiasm saying, “I like university life. I enjoy my time in the hostel environment, meeting, talking to, and learning about the cultures and lifestyles of all the other girls, because although we are all Omanis, we all have different backgrounds, and all have stories to share.” Ruqaishi is remarkably positive, and always appears to be surrounded by friends, which she puts down to the fact that she is a “good communicator. I think I’m honest and not two faced, and I think I’m a spontaneous girl and I respond to others honestly and without deceit. I don’t play with people in any good or bad way, I just take them as I find them, and if they are as open with me, then we will enjoy a good relationship. I think I also like to laugh, and have fun too, and I can usually see the brighter side of things, and that probably helps.”
However, it’s not just her bubbly nature that drives young Ruqaishi, as she admits to being deeply passionate about, and inspired by her faith, and is looking towards Ramadhan with eager anticipation. “I like Ramadhan so much because it is like a time of grace from Allah, an emotional time, a time when our time-management, our patience, and our understanding may all be challenged, but all as part of a greater goal. Like all others, we will reconnect with our wider families near and far, and this is important to us all. We will also offer special prayers together during Ramadhan, the Al Tarawih, an extra night prayer, and throughout the holy month renew all of the things that are truly important to us, our culture, traditions, families and faith.”
She admits, somewhat coyly, that she enjoys food, and can “eat anything without worrying, but during Ramadhan we have many special food dishes, and my favourite is anything made by Mum!” She paused briefly, in her thoughtful way, then added that she genuinely feels that the fasting periods of Ramadhan actually enhance academic performance. “At this time, all of our energies are in our minds, as the fruits and dates of the Suhoor are easily digested, demanding less of our body, and the brain function is increased.” She further explained that “There’s some interesting research on this topic from the United States which appears to support the experiences among my friends and I, who would generally, if unscientifically agree that our exam and test results are better during Ramadhan. So that’s another reason for celebration.”
This cosmopolitan young woman is opinionated, but not overbearing, authoritive but not arrogant, and appears to have her feet planted firmly on the ground, respectful of her nations culture and traditions, yet open to new learning and experiences. She likes reading, enjoying historical novels, and academic research, while her favourite activity is yoga, with her phone, shopping, fashion and the colour pink rounding out a very ‘new age’ profile.
Currently, Ruqaishi is engrossed in reading, “Who Moved My Cheese,” by Spencer Johnson, a parable of life, how it changes, and how we can embrace change and uncertainty, which again demonstrates her own maturity, faith, and growing confidence. She has ambitions to become a university teacher or lecturer, and maybe later in life to travel and experience other cultures, but as she said, “That can come later.”
The ubiquitous Omani traditions of closely knit families, community care and responsibility, for Ruqaishi and her family, take on added importance during Ramadhan. “With Mum, we cook extra food and distribute it within the community, and although it is an obligation of the month of Ramadhan, if there is a need, as a family I would like to think that we would respond to it wherever and whenever that need is seen. Personally, I feel that Ramadhan is the ultimate time, when we can share our faith with expatriates, who by the way I have always felt are very respectful during this month. My teachers, especially, are always very keen to ensure that they dress, behave and eat appropriately, and most appear genuine in wanting to understand our faith, in this time. Apart from family though, I do like to keep in touch with my friends, though we all seem to have the same obligations to family and community.”
The demands and distractions of her studies, and our modern society, and her intelligence, awareness, personality, and charisma, lead Rahma Al Ruqaishi to an unquestioned belief in her faith, and the spiritual rejuvenation, tranquillity, reflection and empowerment that Ramadhan offers saying with a trademark smile, “I will be close to God, and my family. What could be better?”