Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ramadan Postings 2011

As with last year, I collected stories about Muslim people, culture and history and shared them on my Facebook page. Here are my postings from Ramadan 2011.

*** *** ***

Did you know that Ramadan, the holy month of Islam, begins with the next sighting of the new moon tomorrow or the next day? Like last year, I will be exploring Islam, Muslims and Ramadan as the month goes on. What would you like to know?
1.5 billion Muslims begin celebrating the holy month of Ramadan this weekend. Lets take some time this month to learn something new about this religion, the people who practice it and their many cultures. And keep the people of Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and so many more in your thoughts this month.. and all months.

Fasting for Ramadan begins the day after the first sighting of the new crescent moon, which could be seen last night. Today is the first day people all over the world are abstaining from food, water, smoking and a few other things for all daylight hours. Instead, they will spend their time praying and reading the Koran. Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Mubarak! A Flickr blog

In addition to refraining from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex, Muslims who fast during Ramadan also refrain from immoral behavior such as lying, speaking in anger, fighting or talking behind someone's back. How often can we refrain from those behaviors?

A Muslim Voices blog post about zakat, or charity. This is one of the five pillars of islam and especially important during Ramadan.

Indonesia is the world's most populous majority Muslim country. People joke that Ramadan is more of a feasting month than a fasting month in Indonesia because of all the family dinners and street bazaars that happen in the evening hours. Rice dumplings steamed in young coconut leaves, called ketupat, are a specialty this time of year.

A photo gallery of Ramadan around the world.

40% of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or 1.8 million people are Muslim. They have been a part of this area's culture since the Ottomon rule beginning in the 1450s. Bosniaks, as they call themselves, celebrate Ramadan with savory filled dumplings called pita and baklava and singing games and competitions.

Last Ramadan, monsoon flooding in Pakistan (the world's second largest majority Muslim population) left 11 million people homeless. Giving charity or zakat is an important part of Ramadan celebrations all over the world, but especially in Pakistan. So are pakoras, or fried vegetable fritters.

A Washington Post slide show of photos of people celebrating Ramadan.

Senegal is a small country on the far west coast of Africa where 90% of the population is Muslim. Islam first came to Senegal in the 11th century but spread rapidly in the 19th century. Today, most Senegalese are Sufi, a mystical branch of Islam. Senegalese like to break their Ramadan fast with pastries and coffee before going to evening prayers.

There are around 2 million African-American Muslims in our country. Islam is attractive to many African Americans both because of the Islamic heritage of West Africa and also for the explicitly non-racist attitude of Islamic theology. Islam, like other world religions, is a wide and deep pool that people of all colors and backgrounds have found meaning in.

"Imam Shareef says there is a strong connection between African-Americans' historic struggle for freedom and equality since the end of slavery in the 1860s, and the Islamic tradition of seeking spiritual freedom. Ramadan, he says, is a chance for Black Muslims in America to remember that." For African American Muslims, Ramadan has Special Meaning.

"President Obama’s may be one of the more highly publicized Ramadan dinners at the White House, we have a teenage Chelsea Clinton to thank for the tradition — a young American willing to study cultures outside her own."
The story.
In 1958 Ramadan, Passover and Easter all coincided. Here is a vintage Toledo Blade article about celebrations in Jerusalem.

In Morocco, like in other Muslim countries, traffic patterns change dramatically during Ramadan. People rush home in the early evening to get home in time to break their fast with their family, often causing traffic jams and frayed tempers. In Morocco, after breaking their fast with dates and milk, families will eat a hearty dinner of harira (lentil soup), hard boiled eggs and briouats (meat pastries).

98% of the 75 million people in Iran are Muslim and 90% of those are Shia (or Shiite) Muslims. Originally, the split between Shia and Sunni Muslims (who make up the vast majority of Muslims today) was a political one based on succession of leadership after the death of the prophet Muhammad. Both groups fast through ramadan, and reshteh-khoshar, a spiced cookie with walnuts and rice flour, is a favorite in Iran for iftar. .

The partition of Pakistan from India in 1947 happened along religious lines but there are still over 138 million Muslims in India. Islam is most common in the north and east of the country, but the southern state of Kerala had a Muslim population since the 7th century AD. Pathiri, a rice flour griddle cake, are a specialty of Muslims in Kerala and a must for Ramadan. A recipe.

Fordson High in Dearborne MI is again holding preseason practices at night to accommodate fasting players. Faith, family and football at its best!
The New York Times article.
In the town of Habbaniya Cece, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites all coexisted for decades. That changed as Al Qaeda began to take hold in Anbar Province. “It was strangers who came and made trouble, trying to plant something between us. But we’re living together now, there’s no problem,” caretaker of the Shiite mosque Khadem Owaid said.
This is history for us, says final Christian family.
Tonight is the full moon which means we are halfway through Ramadan. Fasting for Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, can you name any one of the other four?

A video in which Muslims explain What Do You Think People Most Misunderstand about Islam? Very powerful.
""When accused of terrorism we are Muslims, when killed by looters, we become Asian", a Muslim student explained to me....Most important to emphasise is the extent to which everyone in Tower Hamlets was a beneficiary of streetwise, smart Muslims acting swiftly to protect shops, businesses and communities against looters." Muslims tackle looters, bigots, an Al Jazeera English opinion piece.
Islam is the second largest religion in the United Kingdom with over 2.5 million adherents of many different ethnicities. Islam has been known in England for centuries, one of Chaucer's pilgrims in Canterbury Tales was well versed in Islamic scholarship and Shakespeare's Othello was a Moor, possibly an African or Arab Muslim. Ramadan Festival UK is sponsoring events all over the country this month, including feeding homeless people, music festivals and house parties.

""Ramadan is all about training your self-discipline in order to be a better person," said Habehh, who has made it her Ramadan mission this year to focus on educating families about the importance of foster care in the Muslim community.... Children are exempt from the fast until they reach puberty, but many younger children are eager to imitate their parents and older siblings by taking part in the tradition."
In Muslim families, kids want to join Ramadan fast, good deeds.
"The group’s members — Tyson, Kumasi, Erik Rico and Anas Canon — are all Muslims who aim to inspire with a positive message of beauty, faith and tolerance. Dubbing themselves “hip-hop ambassadors of the 21st century,” Remarkable Current was invited to tour the country at the behest of the US State Department as part of a performing arts initiative."
Rap Ambassadors Spread the Word in Jakarta.

Islam came to Syria in 640AD when the area was conquered by a companion of the prophet Muhammad. Today, 86% of the country is Muslim including both Sunni and Shi'a communities. Like in other Muslim countries, Ramadan is a time for fasting, praying and charity but also a time for family and food. Evenings are often spent playing cards or backgammon, and sweets like knafeh, a pastry of semolina flour with cheese and sugar syrup, are a favorite.

Arabic is the language the Koran is written in, and thus is considered holy to Muslims. Arabic, like Hebrew, is written from right to left and uses mostly consonants with marks to denote vowels rather than letters. People actually learn two different varieties of Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, the language of media and scholarship, and their local dialect. Over 280 million people in over 26 countries are native Arabic speakers.

Sunset in Portland tonight is at 8:20pm. At the beginning of Ramadan the evening prayers, Magrhib, occurred at 8:40 and at the end of the month they will occur at 7:55pm. Autumn is upon is, and so is Eid! Have you been noticing the sunset? Doing anything special to commemorate it?

The Philippines is a predominantely Catholic country but there have been Muslims in the area since the early 1400s AD. One region in particular, southern Mindanao, has a significant Muslim population even today. The Muslim people are referred to as Moros, a word related to the Spanish word moor. House cleaning and tending to family graves are important parts of Ramadan in Mindanao.

Abdul Rashid Abdullah, scoutmaster of Troop 786, said the Islamic faith and Boy Scouts of America are harmonious in philosophy and in practice. "The Islamic ideals and the scouting ideals are the same. They're compatible," he said. "I can easily talk about the scout law and talk about Koranic verses that co-relate to those scout laws, so it makes it really easy."
Muslim community embraces scouting, a CNN story.
The rebels in Libya are flying a flag of red, black and green to replace the solid green flag of Gaddafi's Libya. Green is a special color in Islam, said to represent life and nature and was the color of the prophet Muhammad's banner. 90% of Libya's population lives in 10% of its land, close to the coast which is the longest along the African Mediterranean coast.
A Libyan food blog post about fritters in syrup, a Ramadan specialty.
"At the crowded Los Feliz diner, Abedin and the soon-to-be fasters were crammed into two booths, men and women side-by-side. They scanned the large menu... The waiter — a man named Achilles with a braided ponytail and a black T-shirt that read "Friends don't let friends get married" — asked about drink orders. But the group was ready for food, mindful that dawn would break at 4:30 that morning."
Adapting Ramadan to the All American Diner, in the Los Angeles Times.
An Al Jazeera English video about the football team at Fordson High in Detroit. They practiced during the middle of the night to accommodate fasting students but just switched back to daytime practices. A cool look at Muslim kids and teachers who look and sound just like any other American football team.

The Uyghur people (pronounced "weeger") are a Turkic speaking group from Xinjiang region of Central Asia who have practiced Islam for over a thousand years. In the 19th century their homeland was invaded by Han Chinese and today, like neighboring Tibet, they face great political and religious restrictions imposed by the Chinese government. In fact, the Chinese government is actively repressing the practice of fasting for Ramadan after resistance violence in recent years. No Ramadan for Uighur Muslims.

A repost from last year about female imams in China's Henan Province.
The Kurds have been called the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state. After the US invasion of Iraq the northern portion of that country has been a virtually autonomous Kurdistan but the Kurds of Turkey are still persecuted. The holiday at the end of Ramadan is called jezhn and is celebrated with family, feasting and new clothes like in most other Muslim cultures. Kulicha, a sweet fried dough with a filling of dates, nuts or coconut is a popular jezhn treat.
Anthony Bourdain's episode about Kurdistan on this season's No Reservations was really informative and well done.

Birdsong brings relief to my longing
I'm just as ecstatic as they are, but with nothing to say!
Please universal soul, practice some song or something through me!
Jelaluddin Rumi was born in what is today Afghanistan in 1207. He became a Muslim teacher and judge and later an ecstatic Sufi poet. He wrote in the Persian language and is considered a major cultural hero in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey.
More Rumi poetry in translation.

Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Jibril starting on Lailatul Qadr', a night during the last 10 days of Ramadan. No one is sure what the exact date is, but it is generally believed to be one of the odd dates in the last weeks of the month. The Quran says that night is worth a thousand months, so many Muslims spend extra time in prayer.

Eid Mubarak! Eid ul-Fitr is the first day of the Shawwal and the end of Ramadan. It is celebrated as a huge holiday all over the Muslim world and occurs today! Many people celebrate by dressing in new clothes and attending prayers at a mosque, inviting family and friends over for a meal and then going visiting. What are you celebrating today? What have you discovered over the course of Ramadan?
Photos of Eid celebrations from around the world.

Eid is a week long national holiday in Qatar. People travel home to be with their family, wear new clothes, have fresh hair cuts and even buy new furniture to show how special the holiday is. It is typical to give gifts of food to the poor, of sweets and money to children and other items to everyone else you meet. Cooked lamb and rice is a tradition Eid dish, and like with Ramadan iftars, sweets of all kinds can be found.

A lovely blog post by a woman in Baghdad about what Eid looks like there. A Day of Eid in Baghdad.

Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, rather than solar, each month begins when the moon is sighted.... but when the moon is sighted depends on where you are in the world, the weather conditions, whether you can use a telescope or not or whether you can use astronomical calculations. This means Eid starts in different places depending on the regional customs. NPR's report on determining when Eid begins.
Iftar dates or a glass of cabernet? A wonderful piece by Caroline Jaine on Muslim Voices.
As Eid celebrations continue all over the world marking the end of Ramadan, I ask you to keep thinking about the people of the Muslim world. They are not a monolithic group and I hope that we can continue to see people for their actions and aspirations, not just their religious or cultural affiliation. What have you learned this Ramadan? What will you be thinking about as we move into this autumn?
Eid During the Arab Spring.

No comments: