Ramadan Around The World #5: Displacement, Devotion, and Hopeby Muhammed Imran
This Ramadan we share with you a bird’s eye view of personal Muslim stories from across the globe.
An Afghan photographer shares his nostalgic memories that encompass the spirit of Ramadan in refugee camps, grand bazaars of Afghanistan, and awaiting his first Eid in the foreign land of Germany.
I am a photographer and strongly believe in the power of photography. It has changed people’s life in Afghanistan. Some of my stories completely changed the lives of roadside sellers. Thus far, I have travelled to more than 20 provinces of Afghanistan.
I was born in a refugee camp in a neighbouring country, where I lived until 2014. I completed my matric (tenth grade) there before moving to Afghanistan and began studying Journalism and Mass Communications at Kardan University, Kabul. However, my journey from Kabul to Berlin started in 2021 after the Taliban’s takeover. I was among the thousands; students, academics, artists, and government employees to be evacuated to different countries.
I belong to a Pashtun ethnic group, which is very strict in religious matters and they follow Islamic practices rigidly. However culturally, Ramadan in Pakistan and Afghanistan are not very different as we are from the same ethnic groups divided by a line, living in close geographical proximity.
A regular fasting day for me, though, is quite different. In Afghanistan, if our university or school is closed, we would sleep after Fajr namaz and wake up before Zuhar namaz. After praying Zuhar we would recite the Quran and then go to the market to bring food for iftar and visit our friends. In Pakistan, we were working as child laborers so we had to fast and work.
I remember, my first ever Roza (fast) was when I was 14 years old. The weather was still very warm, though it was about – 45°C. Eating on a regular basis in childhood and suddenly stopping for up to 15 to 16 hours daily, for a month, was difficult as a teenager. However, it was a great experience to learn sabar (patience), taqwa (trust), and parhizgari (devotion).
The first 10 to 20 days of Ramadan were bearable. From day 20 onwards, people would start preparing for Eid. They would buy food and sew new clothes.
Memories of Ramadan are unforgettable. As I close my eyes, vivid, pristine memories still flash by. The colours of the rainbow, people in a hurry, leaving everything behind to go to home and have iftar together with family. People giving each other food. Friends and family heading out to shop at grand colourful bazaars. One can only imagine how stuffy it was with an endless number of people selling and buying stuff. The bazaar was certainly not like any other average day.
You would also find a lot of people helping the poor through food donations and zakat.
People in my area mostly worked outside the city or the country. So, they only managed to visit their families during Ramadan and Eid. In countries like Afghanistan, this was the only celebration where everyone looked happy and wore new outfits. They would also invite each other to their homes and visit relatives and friends.
When I was younger and living in Pakistan, my Afghanistan community would go to the mosque for Eid Prayers. People would bring tea, food and sweets to share for breakfast. Those are now distant memories but will stay with me for the rest of my life.
This Ramadan, I shall be welcoming the blessed month in Germany for the first time ever. I am excited; unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Eid. I have left everything behind in Afghanistan. My family is not with me and my friends are still in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, there’s no chance to see them in near future. Some of the people have spent almost 10 to 15 years here and have not been able to meet their families. I can still see their faces, all my friends wearing the same clothes and shoes on Eid. I hope I’ll meet them soon, someday.
I like Berlin because it is a mix of cultures. You can find almost every religion and ethnicity here, so Ramadan might be colorful, but I do not think it can ever be the same as the Afghanistan community here is quite small. Being alone thousands of kilometers away from my family is difficult, but during Ramadan, it is extremely difficult.
Curated by: Muslim Pro
About the Writer
Muhammad Imran, 24, is a photographer from Zurmat, Afghanistan, currently living in Berlin, Germany. His photos have won several awards and competitions in and outside Afghanistan. He has volunteered as an education activist and a photographer with non-profit organizations for several years. He shares his love for Afghanistan on his Instagram.