Ramadhan in Sevilla – 2015

During this Ramadhan, Annisaa (an Indonesian Muslimah lifestyle website) with tag lines : ‪#‎RamadanInspiration‬ and ‪#‎MuslimahAroundTheWorld‬, narrates some interviews with Indonesian women all over the globe to share their experiences about fasting and Ramadhan in the country where they currently live at (mainly at Europe, United States, Australia). Those women represent multitude professions: a researcher, PhD student, working mom, stay-at-home mom, etc. For me, it is a big honour that I was interviewed to reflect about fasting and Muslim community in Andalusia, Spain.. .

Meet Riana Garniati Rahayu, a mother of two and a writer, currently living in Sevilla, southern Spain. Riana has lived there since 2013, after 5 years in Sweden, following her husband assignment in European Commission.

Riana’s family is the only Indonesian muslim family living in Sevilla at the moment.

“In Sweden, I did my Master degree and had a lot of Indonesian friends with many activities, like pengajian. Here, in Spain, I am a stay-at-home mom with limited activities – at first.

After feeling a bit lonely at the beginning, I began to realize the huge potential surrounding me that needs to be shared widely: the Andalusian Islamic history, that seems to be a never-ending source of incredible stories.

Can you imagine? Islam was in Portugal and most part of Spain for 7 centuries! At the peak of its glory, Islam had left many precious legacies for the world in various fields, such as technology, culture, philosophy, and science.”

Riana – an ITB graduate – started to seize the opportunity. She began writing about the Andalusian cities to be published in media like Republika and Ummi magazine.

“Initially, I thought it would be tough to live in Sevilla as hijabi, but I was wrong. Confused looks are common, yet I have never been discriminated by the Spanish people who are known as devoted Catholics and very friendly.

I was very excited, though, when I got to meet the Spanish muslim communities, that began to thrive in 1980s and centered in Granada, 250 km from Sevilla.

Don’t be surprised if you find an Islamic first name – such as Ibrahim, Umar, or Halima – but with a Spanish family name, like Hernandez, for example. Some of them are even Hafizh of Qur’an.

These local families really inspired us to be a better muslim. They are just in their second or third generation of being muslim, while we are the umpteenth generation, but their level of faith are so incredible.

When we visited our good friends’ house there, Bita and Raya – my daughters – played in their green cave house while listening to shalawat and wirid from CD and enjoying calligraphy frames at every corner.”

Riana and her husband do many activities together with the local muslims, like weekly dzikir gatherings or learning tafsir for ‘ngabuburit’, iftar, and taraweeh in Ramadan.

“We fast for about 17 hours, from 5 am to 10 pm, in the middle of summer temperature of 40-45 degrees Celcius, and even 53 degrees on the hottest day. Spain is part Europe, but the climate in Sevilla is more like Africa, which indeed is very close.

It’s like fasting with European time but with a taste of Sahara!”

Riana usually breaks her fast at home with her family, eating Indonesian food. At times, they bring some food to share and go to the mosques for iftar.

“My favorite local dishes for iftar are the delicious and satisfying vegetable soups such as Spanish ‘Potaje de Lentejas’ or Moroccan ‘Harira’.

As for Eid day this year, we already plan to spend it in Orgiva – a foothill village near Granada – where over 30 Spanish muslim families have been living for generations. Most are following sufism hence staying away from modernized world. I’m sure my family will enjoy this unique experience.”

Riana keeps writing as she is motivated by the increasing number of Indonesian muslims visiting southern Spain to learn more about the Islamic history.

“Personally, I feel that historic-themed travels give me tremendous positive energy to become a better muslim. I learn about how great civilization already was at that time, but most importantly, it gives me time to contemplate.

Glory will fade without a strong faith, then it will break us from inside…”



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