By Khalil Al Khonji
Unity in the Holy Month
The Holy Month is a magical month that brings people of all walks together. Ramadan is a month that nurtures goodness, strengthens relationships and unites them. Fasting brings people together in a spiritual effort to cleanse their souls and better themselves.
Ramadan always ushers in a feeling of goodness and unity. While traditionally the month brings out the goodness in every one of us, it also gives us the opportunity to meet and get together on almost all days of the month.
The Iftar takes on an important significance and it becomes the occasion for not only meeting close family members, but also becomes a platform where relatives, friends, business contacts and acquaintances and even the neighborhood families unite. I can proudly state that the Majlis Al Khonji tradition that ran in our family, since the days of my grandfather and his only son Abdullah, is continuing unabated. Today, The Majlis held at the Bait Al Khonji in Muttrah has become an extension of the traditional cultural customs of our community.
The Holy Month offers us a chance to not only arrange additional get togethers, but also to uphold the traditions of our ancestors, passed on to us for generations.
Get-togethers of a different kind
Majlis gatherings exist in Oman, it is just that we, among the Khonji family, do it in a very unique manner, especially during Ramadan. Unique, in the sense, we have three sessions in a single day on all days of the Holy Month. The first session starts just before the Maghreb prayers, where we gather around to break our fast together at the adhan calls. Thereafter, the second session is around 9:30 pm, where we gather for dinner time.
These two gatherings during Ramadan are arranged to meet all invitees, cutting across all communities during the Holy Month. The third session on the other hand, is usually only for close family members. Ramadan offers the opportunity to come together as a family, as everyone meets as part of Suhoor around 3:30 am, before the early morning prayers. These three events are a part and parcel of our daily schedule in this month.
Various discussions; various groups
Modernity has not taken away the essence of tradition. Our gatherings also include old schoolmates of Al Saidiyah School in Muscat; neighbourhood friends and acquaintances; an all-women gathering comprising female ambassadors; wives of ambassadors and lady professionals; plus international guests too.
The exclusive ladies session, which had all the female ambassadors of Oman and the other session for the wives of the ambassadors was coordinated by Qatrelnada.For the international friends and guests, these gatherings offer a great opportunity to get to know our way of life, while we discuss everything from contemporary issues, including subjects of economic importance, educational issues, politics and well, just about everything!
All 30 days
The uniqueness is that we engage in these gatherings on all 30 days of the Holy Month. So, these gatherings brings in a variety of people from all walks of life together and also ensures unity. These gatherings during the month are not just about tradition, it is much more than that. From sharing meals to prayers, the month and Iftar gatherings brings in harmony between all.
We make time for all members of the society, starting from our own home and families, to our childhoods friends (who have all grown up now) and to different sections of the society. So the Holy Month truly paves way for a reunion of all kinds.
As is part of the traditional Majlis Khonji, we also host a variety of professionals who provide illuminating talks and discussions from which all of those who gather can greatly benefit. A few names that readily come to mind are that of Yusra Mouzughi, vice chancellor, Muscat University; the revered Talal Abu Ghazaleh, chairman and founder of the international Jordan-based organisation, The Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation (TAG-Org); the charitable Fak Al Kurbah team of lawyers and then Professor Abdullah Babood, a foremost expert on Gulf Matters. The last was with (Mrs) Zuhra Salim Aloufi, a pioneer in volunteering and social responsibility.
There was also a session for some wilayats of Sohar, Barka, Musannah and Ibri plus our neigbhours in Muttrah and a session for the media.