Nigerian students miss being with families during Ramadan

Aliyu (left) and Muhammad giving the thumbs up as they have been adapting to the Malaysian way of breaking fast at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Skudai Campus in Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: It has been a challenging week for Nigerian Muslim students observing the fasting month for the first time in Malaysia, being outside their country and away from their families.

Aliyu Adamu Baba, 40, said that although the fasting and prayer times were similar to the practices back home, the toughest thing was adjusting to the Ramadan spread when breaking fast.

The first-year Mechanical Engineering Masters student said Malaysians tended to eat heavy meals during buka puasa, while Muslims in Nigeria would start with a light meal.

“The differences are not just in the way we cook but also what we eat. Back home, we normally start with porridge, fresh fruits and other appetisers.

“We only eat heavy food such as rice and other dishes later in the night, after performing tarawih prayers,” he said.

Aliyu said that traditional Nigerian fare for breaking fast include the kunu drink made from whole grains of millet and sometimes sorghum or corn, and akara (bean cakes).

“We break fast with traditional dishes and dates, but here, the custom is to have dates and sweet drinks first followed by a heavy meal,” he added.

For Muhammad Musa, 40, who is pursuing his doctorate in Quantity Surveying, observing Ramadan has been hard despite having been in Malaysia for the past three years.

“I would usually go back for Ramadan, but this year I decided to stick around as I have plenty of work to complete.

“Not only do I miss the food, I also dearly miss my family, as we would usually break fast together,” said the father of three.

Muhammad said that his favourite Malaysian food is fried rice with chicken.

He added that he misses food from home even more during the fasting month.

“I cannot wait to get home and enjoy a meal with my family soon,” he said, adding that he would return after the Hari Raya celebrations.

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