A friend asked me about the nature of the Ramadan atmosphere in America. Perhaps Ramadan in America will be like Ramadan in any other non-Muslim country. Of course, there are no comprehensive general aspects of attending the month of fasting, but the Ramadan atmosphere is limited to the personal lives of Muslims and to mosques. It may be most present in areas with a large Muslim community.
In my personal experience, the worst period of Ramadan was the one during which Ramadan passed when I was working in a restaurant because work is often at breakfast time, and therefore we had to eat a fast breakfast and return to work immediately. Thus, Ramadan is for any Muslim who does a job that extends to the time of breaking the fast.
And in the small cities where I lived, we used to feel the atmosphere of Ramadan through companionship and communal Iftar. This is the only opportunity to feel what we were feeling before immigration at the daily breakfast table during the month. And here I am speaking from the point of view of a single immigrant!
In Chicago, attendance of the month is better because the Muslim community is large. Chicago has dozens of large mosques.
These mosques are very crowded during Tarawih prayers so that you cannot find a place for a foot in them, and any passer-by outside the mosque can feel that there is a celebration or special occasion, as the parking lot of the mosque is abnormally full of cars, which requires the presence of men whose task is to regulate the movement and parking of the worshiper's cars.
All the mosques that I saw in Chicago offer free breakfast collectively at the time of iftar as well, so you find worshipers break their fast together after the call to prayer and before performing the sunset prayer. Hence, the Ramadan presence is strong.
The Ramadan atmosphere is also widely felt in Arab restaurants at the time of iftar, where you will find a great company. Many of the diners who are fasting with you break their fast with you.
Perhaps the atmosphere of Ramadan is, in short, “the community,” meaning the participation of a large group around you in one behavior, which is fasting at a certain time and breaking the fast at a certain time.
This collective atmosphere characterizes the daily life of Muslims in general, but we do not practice it with this clarity and intensity except this month!