Saturday, September 30, 2006
There was some discussion in the comment section of an earlier post about the different Books of the Peoples of the Book. Since I was raised Christian I'm familiar with the Bible, and it hadn't occurred to me until Rijju mentioned it that the Muslim readers of this blog might not all have familiarity with the Bible. So I wanted to post a key section of the the New Testament that embodies the message of Jesus as Christians understand it. It's been in my mind recently partly because there's a verse that's very relevant to the meaning of Ramadan and because the messages of Jesus and the Prophet coincide here. I am not familiar at all with the Torah (except as it might overlap with the Old Testament of the Bible) and I'd be very interested if Lirun wanted to post on that?
This is from the King James Version, the book of Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 1-12. It's the famous section called the Beatitudes, which means something like "the blessed states of the soul".
"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Some more background to my spiritual heritage is in order for you to fully understand where I am and where I'm going. I was born in Sweden which is traditionally a protestant country but we still have strong heathen tradition. My father is brought up without (to my knowledge) any strong religious beliefs. My mother is from a strict Catholic family originally from Norway, she is like me a seeker and she has "tried" everything from Christianity to "new age" so I think I have inherited my spiritual side from her. I have a younger sister on my father's side who is a devoted Lutheran and an uncle on my mother's side that is a Catholic but except for that I have
next to no religion in my family.
I did my confirmation in our church at the age of 15 but that was more for the opportunity to meet girls from other schools than my own and for the gifts you recieve from relatives than anything close to religion.
When I was in my late teens I travelled to England where I was for the first time in touch with "real" religious people. Most of them were Christians and Rastafari. This opened my eyes to religion in a new way as I lived close to people with rituals of worship.
I have also a different source of inspiration to my spiritual side. I love history and while studying history it is inevitable to run in to religion, so I have studied the Tora / Bible / Qur'an on the side of the history books. And I have a hard time to see a big difference between the three of them... But I have no formal training in interpreting religious texts so I might be wrong : )
I believe that there is only one divine power in the universe but different cultures put different faces on it. Some might give it three faces like the Christians and the Rastafari some might go closer to the source of "the light" and just give it one. Even the Hindu with their thousands of gods recognize that there is one single divine power behind them all...
I'm not looking for a religion but for rituals of worship. Since I don't have a "religion" I don't have rules to live by just my sense of morality (based strongly on Christianity) and the one thing I "miss" is a way to live a more "religious" life. The fast is a good way to practice your will and to show your devotion to what I from now on will call "The light" (the face I have put on my god, sexles, not looking like me. Just the pure force behind the faces of all the gods in the universe). Prayer is another ritual of worship that I have borrowed from religion, I pray 5-10 times a year, only when I really feel that I need it. I also give thanks, a prayer of sorts but not the deep prayer I use when in need. I give thanks 3-5 times a day when I'm happy and less when I'm down. The fast will probably be a part of my "religious repertoire" in the future and I will most likely share it with Muslims as Ramadan is a good time to fast as any other and I get the support of others and I can celebrate with fellow believers...
At Umra everyday after every namaaz there would be at least 2-3 namaaz-e- janaaza.5 prayers a day and at least 10-15 people passing away. Young ,old,sick, who knows what the cause was, but the call to leave the world behind.
No doubt those who came away alive, could not choose a better place.But I wonder this yeh saari zameen Allah ki hai (all the land is his) and when we die, it is our actions that will speak for us, not the 6 foot of earth we lie under. Still such is the magic of the Holy land to be buried in its soil alone seems to be jannat. But it is the state we die in (ie with wuddhu, performing some rites) that will give us any access to jannat.
So then, would I guess, passing away in a holy month, for those who have lived their lives the right way.
I have members of my family, who have passed away in a foreign land with strict wishes for the body to be buried in the homeland.
I have seen in Makkah, people cutting of pieces of the black cloth, to take home, because they wish to buried with it. This is SHIRK ( to go against Islam) or BIDAA (innovation), ofcourse but such is the belief of our people.
People cling to the Haram (the Holy Mosque in Makkah), and they weep and beat their chests, and ask for forgiveness. Then some go away changed, and some continue their lives of wrongdoing.
They steal a piece of the cloth, or any other item they can lay their hands on, and in that act itself denying the whole purpose of being there. Such is their ardour to be amongst the chosen ones.
When no piece of cloth will gain you access into heaven, nor gallons of zamzam poured onto your grave will cool the fires of hell.
What will save you is your actions, your words, your deeds.Your salvation lies in what you did, because thats all you will take with you.
Yes, ramadan is a holy month, and no doubt a good month to die in, but all that good is only good, when you have done thus.
Friday, September 29, 2006
What I wanted to ask was: How many of the people reading or contributing to this blog are native speakers of Arabic or have enough Arabic to read and recite the Qur'an in Arabic without having to translate in their heads? For you who do speak Arabic, is it difficult to read and recite in the Arabic of the Qur'an as opposed to modern standard or dialect Arabic? I have to confess that it's been difficult for me to enjoy and feel close to the Qur'an, and this Ramadan I'm very grateful to have found Michael Sells' Approaching the Qur'an, which not only translated the Meccan surahs beautifully but gives a lot of background about the structure and style of the text and so on.
So I'm curious-- What language do you prefer when reading the Qur'an to yourself? What about those of you who are bi- or multi-lingual? And for those of you who don't speak Arabic, how does praying in Arabic work for you? (I know it's required; I'm just wondering if it makes you feel closer of more removed when you pray?)
Sleepy this morning-- I apologize if my grammar's horrible!
At home today, attended Namaz-e-Juma at Nahoda Mosque in Calcutta. The sky was overcast but thankfully no rain during Namaz. The multitude spilled out of the mosque and onto the roads... a usual feature here when the faithful suddenly strengthen their faith (perhaps a topic for discussion - Why do Muslims lose their religious fervour after Ramadan?).
The Friday Sermon (Khutba)is traditionally in Arabic (started from the time when the mosque had imams from Egypt)with today's theme being the benefits of Roza. The essence of Ramadan lies in man controlling his 'Nafs' or desires and exercising 'Sabr' or patience.
I recalled hearing the recitation during Tarawih a couple of days earlier in which Allah says 'Seek help through Sabr (Patience) and Salaat (Prayer)' (Quran 2:153) ; the relative importance of 'Sabr' being enphasised even over Prayer. In fact, the early muslim era is a perfect example of 'Sabr' when the faithfuls faced persecution from the Meccans. It is perhaps their patience which strengthened their faith and made them extraordinary men of character and success.
After that Tarawih when I got into my car to return home, I hesitated a bit before putting on the Air Conditioning trying to apply the message of Sabr ... this is going to be a Ramadan of Sabr; and without AC!!
PS: A Janaza (funeral) after Juma Prayers in the mosque... Inna Lillaahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raji'oun (We are for Allah and to him shall we return). Lucky Soul...to be recalled in Ramadan.
wouldnt it be great if the leaders of our region sent apologies to eachother.. and we behaved like a good little region..
thats all the aliens see when they look at us.. see? :D
A couple of days ago, I got my usual newsletter from Nestlé. They usually send me mails, updating me on their new products etc. Most days I do not have the time to read the newsletter, but something caught my eye, and this is what I got.
Nestlé has organised an event called Light a Lantern. With just one click you will donate 1 Riyal to a needy orphan.
Oh! And there are recipees galore so Hanna, get cooking!
Having spent pretty much all of my Ramadans during my adult life in the UK, I am always noting my different experiences. My fasting is generally the same, and I try to always go above the lack of food and water and try to purify myself, but what I find interesting is how my fasting affects those non-Muslims around me.
Every year is different in those around me. I enjoy telling people that we cannot eat, drink and smoke during the daylight hours and then they ask why. I always reply saying it's to give us a sense of equality with those less fortunate than us and to get us patience. This year I got asked if I had to pray to the East! I had to explain the we pray towards Mecca which happens to be East of the UK, but for the Indonesians that would be West!
Anyway I wish you all well and goodness in this special month. I wish all your wishes to come true, and your sins to be erased. I wish you happiness in these happy days sharing the time with those you love.
PS: Good work S.Shaira and D.Rebel and all the other contributors to make this a great success!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I have a question which is not about Ramadan or fasting. It is about our etiquette and rules in Islam.
Every time I visit the mosque, the imam and the others frown on me because I wear two gold rings on my finger.
I like wearing the rings. It is a vanity thing which I find difficult to explain to the imam.
However I would like to know if anybody can give a clear explanation on whether it is permitted to wear rings (made of gold). I did read somewhere that ornaments and amulets that bear images or idols are banned, which is completely acceptable to me. However rings and lockets which carry my initial or my loved ones name or some design – what about them?
Can somebody help me here?
By the way, I am beginning to feel the lack of sleep. Hope it does not affect my work.
I look around and I see people fasting because they were told to do so, no thinking process is involved. They believe that fasting is about ceasing food and drinks on an indicated time interval. Fasting is something like yoga "a discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility," not aimed at reaching a state of repletion by the end of the day. Therefore, to reach this aim we should THINK!
When you are hungry think of those who are hungry and have no Maghrib Adhaan with a table full of food, which means they don't know when they are going to get a decent meal. Think of the blessings you have and think of how thankful you are for Allah. Now try to translate those thoughts into actions through helping others more, through appreciating what you have more, through doing your worshipping duties.
Patience is another great value aimed by fasting. Even those muscular guys, they sit on the Iftaar table by the end of the day thinking "Hey Imam, hurry up!" It's a human nature; human beings are so vulnerable and so driven by their feelings. Fasting is dealing with controlling those feelings, not only the hunger and thirst. Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, have sex, look at/hear anything that may inflame certain feelings, lie, cheat, etc… during fasting.
See how many feelings this fasting process is dealing with and aimed at controlling? Try to get out of this Ramadan experience stronger, think about it so you know what you achieved by the end of this Ramadan. The sense of achievement will encourage you to work on many other aspects of your life, only if you think about this whole fasting concept.
This is a recipe for a soup that is supposed to have been a favorite of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him). There is apparently a hadith in which he says that Aisha held the same place among his wives that tharid held among food—anyway, it sounds tasty and we’re having it for iftaar tonight, and I share it in case it sounds good and in the spirit of Ramadan to anyone else.
In a large pot, put ¼ c. cooked chickpeas, 5 stalks parsley and 1 stalk celery, a 3 ½ lb. chicken, salt and pepper, 2 Tbsp. ghee or clarified butter, and 2 ½ quarts water. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for an hour or until the chicken is no longer pink.
Discard the herb and celery. Remove the chicken, and take the meat off the bones when it’s cool. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 ½ tsp. baharat (a spice mixture, recipe below) and salt to taste.
Beat 2 eggs in a bowl with ½ Tbsp lemon juice. Whisk a few spoonfuls of the hot soup stock into the eggs, then transfer the mixture back into the soup, whisking rapidly so the eggs don’t curdle from the heat. Keep the soup over very very low heat.
In a large skillet, heat ¼ c. olive oil and brown the chicken meat with 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice (the total lemon juice in the recipe should equal that of one lemon) over medium-high heat. Remove the browned meat to a platter, add ¼ c more olive oil to the pan, and cook slices of dry/day-old bread (about ½ baguette) until lightly golden.
To serve, place bread in the bottom of each bowl, ladle the soup on top, and serve the chicken on the side or in the soup.
To make baharat, mix together 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp dried rose petals, and 1 tsp finely ground black pepper. I substituted ground allspice and a little freshly ground nutmeg for the rose petals. This recipe comes from Clifford Wright’s wonderful book, “A Mediterranean Feast”.
I’d like to add as a question—What are people reading during Ramadan, apart from the Qu’ran?
That was little after 6am (yesterday). Now at 2.45am, having got home from office about a half hour ago, I am thinking if I want to risk that again, or should I keep awake till 5am for suhur? There is no doubt in my mind that if I go to sleep now, the chances of waking up at 4.30am are not too high. As a statistician, I would not bet on my odds. Then again, I would not bet on my odds to get to office on time either if I don't sleep now.
The day actually went by surprisingly well given the lack of nutrition. Possibly even better than the day before, when I was late for a meeting in the morning and decided to run most of the way to work and had to spend the rest of the day feeling pretty thirsty.
I have to admit though, AlhamdulIllah, so far I haven't had a hard time dealing with the hunger or the thirst. The thing I really feel is the lack of energy! I was remembering today how when I was 14, I would go out in the afternoon and practice with my basketball team for a couple of hours while fasting. We would be done more than an hour before iftaar time and it just wouldn't matter.
I like to think I'm not too old, but I can't help but notice the difference in energy. I miss it. And its only been 4 days...
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Assalamu alaikum to all,
Guess what, I am a bit ashamed to say this.
I have been a muslim all my life but have never fasted. And I am doing it for the first time this year. God help me.
I would like to thank Kaya for putting up the niyyat and thanx prayers in Arabic and English for people like me.
I would also like to encourage Daniel and Hannah for their initiative and contributions.
I must tell Hannah here that according to my local imam, one can taste the food while cooking as long as it is not ingested. The rule only says that nothing should be ingested through the mouth. Swallowing one’s spittle is also allowed.
I must say this is a wonderful place to put up our thoughts.
I know most of you know the dua's to be read at the time of suhoor/sehri or iftaar. But we, here are reaching out to so many people for whom this is a first time experience.
Suhoor/Sehri is the meal we eat before the Fajr adhaan.
After the meal we make neeyat (intention) to fast with this dua:
WA BISAWMI GHADIN NAWAYTU MIN SHAHRI RAMADAN
"I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan."
Similarly at the call for prayer, in the evening. Maghrib, is when we break our fast, which we have kept since dawn without eating or drinking anything.
This meal is known as iftaar and the dua for breaking fast is as follows:
ALLAAHUMMA LAKA S'UMTU WA A'LAA RIZQIKA AFT'ARTU WA A'LAYKA TAWAWKKALTU
"O my Allah, for Thee, I fast, and with the food Thou gives me I break the fast, and I rely on Thee ."
(as seen and taken from http://www.npr.org/)
The show is said to attack those who preach violence and condemns fundamentalists..
This is part of a larger movement of Muslims whose voices have now been magnified in a call for peace and against terrorism.. Much respect to Anzour and friends - these are clearly people who have enough charisma and talent to shape opinions and the bravery to further reflect the change that they affect..
This is an amazing evolution and cannot be taken for granted for its potential effects on our region!!
By way of contrast - two years ago Yahya Ayyash was a tv superstar - he was a Palestinian terrorist killed during an operation years ago - who turned into a legend aired across the Arab world during this holy month..
Ramadan karim to everyone!
Ps. Gmar hatima tova for Yom Kippur and thank you sooo much for invitation of my participation in this blog.. it is an honour and a privilege to share this experience..
The holy month of Ramadan. Gone are the days when I use to anxiously wait for this month. The times when I use to compete with my brothers as to who will fast more days than the other. I guess it was a bit of 'Fun' just waiting eagerly on the dinner table to hear the Maghrib Azaan, so that we could stuff our tiny little stomachs with almost everything we had fantasized about eating that day.
It's fair to say that, that 'Fun' has disintegrated with the realizations of the importance of this Holy Month.For me, that 'Fun' has been replaced by 'Effort'. An Effort to rejuvenate myself. Every year, in this month, I get a chance to add something to that 'Effort' to reconstruct myself. To better understand the reason of my existence on this god created place. But I have now realized that this 'Effort' should not be in the month of Ramadan only.
My point of this monotonous story is that we should not give importance to the month of Ramadan only. This, being one of the holiest months in our Islamic Calender (in which the Holy Quran was revealed) is the only centre of attention for many. Why? Because, when taught about Ramadan, that is what most children perceive. Hence, with time, this perception starts to grow and eventually they start to believe that this is the only month of the year that they need to pray and ask forgiveness from Allah.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Salaam alaikum to all and good morning to those near the Pacific time zone.
I didn’t get to the store to buy dates before Ramadan, so when I went yesterday I bought a big bag of medjool dates. I invited my husband and some friends to share iftaar together, and cooked my favorite food: Indian vegetarian. We had parathas stuffed with green peas, mung and tomato dal, mint-coconut chutney, tomato-fennel chutney, and rice, and it was delicious! The chili peppers, tomatoes, and even one lemon came from my own garden, and the gratitude I felt for them was certinaly more keen than usual. How good it is to share food with friends! Leftovers made suhoor this morning, with more dates. The dates made me think of the Prophet, peace be upon him. I knew so little about the Prophet before I became a Muslim, and now, thank God, when I think about him I have a feeling of happiness and love in my heart. Muslims are blessed to have so many stories about him: about his love for his family, his kindness and courtesy towards women as well as men and animals, his humility and even his willingness to share the housework! When I get home today I’ll share a recipe that he is supposed to have liked that I’m planning to make for iftaar tonight.
One thing I’m thinking a lot about right now is all the generosity my non-Muslim friends have shown me since I converted. There have certainly been people surprised, worried, uncomprehending, about why I would convert, but most have been lovely. My husband gave me my first Qu’ran, my employer (I’m a caregiver) told me to take all the time I need to pray at work and made sure I have a pleasant spot for it, occasionally strangers have greeted me on the street with “salaam alaikum”. So in the spirit of the comments earlier on the blog about how strange it is that gulfs develop between people who have a lot in common, I’d like to suggest that Ramadan is a great time to reach out to non-Muslims. Gifts of food and invitations to iftaar at home are good ways, since food always brings people together.
And now I have a question about food—Those of you who cook, do you do it all without tasting the food? I tasted just a speck a couple of times because I didn’t know how hot these home-grown chilis might be. I rinsed my mouth out after, but still it felt like breaking the fast.
I got this in e - mail from a friend. For those friends who have difficultu with Urdu, a translation in English follows:
Our efforts in Ramadan
What will you get in Ramadan?....Like earth, your hearts will become soft, your eyes wet. You’ll sow the seed of Iman (faith) and protect your abilities and capacities. The seed will turn into a plant and the plant will grow into a tree. The tree will flourish and good deeds will become its green leaves and its invaluable fruits; and you will reap a harvest of eternal glory.
Like a farmer, you’ll work and make efforts; the result will be that a rich harvest in the Heavens in the Afterlife will become ready for you to reap. The harder you work, the better will be the harvest.
And if the hearts turn out to be like stones and you remain lethargic like an unconcerned farmer, all the waters of blessings, fasts and tarawih will flow away and nothing would remain. No doubt, nothing comes one’s way without the Supreme Will of God. However, the Will of God favours those only who make efforts. Allah says:
“You move towards Him an arm’s distance, He will come towards you double that distance; you walk towards Him and He will run towards you”. (Sahih Muslim)
But if you remain at your place unconcerned, would the Will of God ever favour you?
Get ready to work and make efforts to get your share of the Blessings but remember what the Holy Prophet (PBUH) warned us about:
“So many people are there who fast without ever getting anything except hunger and thirst in return; and so many people are there who pray for the whole night but don’t get anything except a sleepless night”.
Just after my first post here I got a phone call from a colleague, she asked me if I wanted to work for her and since it's Ramadan I could not say no : ) so I had to run home prepare iftaar (pineapple and apple salad). I poured a big glas of cold water got my cigaretts out and sat watching the sun set behind the mountains. I said thanks and started eating. Dont know if eating is the correct word... I attacked my plate with a fury not seen since I picked up a smoke after being without for 2 weeks. I ate and drank fast and then I had 2 smokes before I had to run to work. I started at 1900 so there was time to eat before work today, a luxury I won't have the rest of the week.
My colleagues were quite supportive of my decision to fast for a month, but most of them thought it was weird as I'm not a Muslim. I tried to explain that I believe in God and that there is only one God so it does not matter if you call him/her "God "Allah" or "Jehova" its still the same God and that I was curious about Islam.
I worked for 4hrs and had a lot of water while working. After work I went to a friend's house for dinner around 2300 and when I came home from that I had a light snack (more fruit and veg) bedtime was around 0200 so I missed fajr as I was sleeping. I promised myself that I would wake up and go eat breakfast but I was in a deep sleep (but I think I drank some water from my bed) so today is going to be hard as I have not even had breakfast. But no one said it would be easy to fast for the first time.
Two of the girls I live with had a big night out last night so they were quite slow this morning. We went to do some shopping. My trolley was filled with fruits and veg and slow carbs for morning and fast carbs for night and some nice beef. The girls got egg, meat, mayonaise, white bread and so on... a nice fried Australian brecky. I was a bit hungry but I still helped them to cook. And I sat there watching them eating about 2 days worth of calories and drinking cold juice and milk. When they lit there smokes I had to leave for a while but I think I handeld the temptation quite well : )
I spend alot of my thirsty hours thinking about my spiritual journey and I'm thinking back about the journey I did when I was in my late teens (I went to England then). In my young ignorant years I experimented with drugs and sin and now still young but a bit wiser I experiment with religon and culture.
Day 2 of my first fast is coming to its end and I will soon go home and prepare a nice feast for me and my friends, as I'm really having a day off today. Two courses of couscous, one vegetarian and one with beef will be on the menu both served with cold sauses and flat bread. Fresh fruit and milk for dessert. And plenty of cold water and tobaco through the meal.
I hope you all enjoy your days and don't forget to tip your waiters tonight as they won't be able to eat until you leave the restaurant...
Sorry I have not been around. Its getting a bit difficult for me. Somehow Ramadan changes our routines, and we all tend to sleep later.
Since ramadan has started I have not been able to get to bed before 12.30-1 am and then wake up again for Suhoor at 4. After which I cannot sleep and then the day unfolds.
its fair enough to say I am on day 4 feeling very sleepy and cranky.
Okay now some questions.
I was taught to do wuddu (abolution) by saying bismillah with every action.
Now I have been told recently that you must not speak in the toilet so it is wrong to say Bismillah.
That should you die in the bathroom, the angels will not enter if you have spoken.
(Therefore basically not to spk in Loo, which is easier said then done, when you have a 4 year old outside yelling her head off!)
According to "BEHESTI ZEWARR" (Heavenly Ornaments) a book printed in URDU, a must have for all newly married brides.
its a guide for everything you need to know regarding many things, including personal hygiene, etc etc.
I had been given this book by some kindly soul, needless to say I never got round to reading it.
But according to this book, when one is doing "GHUSL", (purification bath) one needs to read the first Qallma. But back to the not speaking in toilet thing.
Assuming it is said under ones breath, then there is that group of people who will not enter a toilet wearing religious pendants and will remove it or (from another lady) place it in the mouth when entering toilet.
What do you say?
I am Hannah, and this is my first Ramadan. I took shahadah last December and I’m very excited about Ramadan! I live in Portland, Oregon, and the mosque where I took shahadah is far away from me and I don’t have a car, so it’s hard for me to share iftaar with others. My family and my husband are not Muslim, but are being very supportive. My husband is trying not to eat in front of me even though I tell him it’s OK. I have to admit that if I get light-headed in the afternoon I’ve decided to have just enough juice to bring my glucose back up. It seemed a good idea to be gentle on myself because this is new to me and because I have to be safe when I work. What I’ve loved about Ramadan so far has been the knowledge that my fellow Muslims all over the world are sharing this month together, and that it’s making me so much more aware of the blessing of having and sharing food, and that it’s a time to put myself in Allah’s hands and ask Him for the blessings from this that are best from me. And I have one comment—let’s all take a moment to thank everyone who’s cooking iftaar for us! It’s hard to plan menus and shop for food and cook when you’re hungry! May we all be blessed this Ramadan, and may we be a source of inspiration and goodness and light in the world.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Surah Al - Baqara, Verse 187 (2:187)
Anyways, like yesternight, tonight too Tarawih prayers were offered under the nuisance of the hum of electric generators. I took a day off from university to catch up on my sleep :) (I only slept for two hours before Sehri yesternight). So, had a nice meal in the morning, recited a little bit of the Holy Quran after Fajr prayers and slept till 11:00 a.m., only to be woken up by the notorious KESC. The Iftar time was great and we had lots of fruits and pakoras and samosas.
Usually, there's a lot of courtesy amongst the faithfull during the holy month, but KESC managed to make a mess of it as it made people a hell lot of impatient.
However, there was a newsreport today meant to soothe nerves. That the federal government, through the tility Stores Corporation, had decided to subsidize daily consumption foodstuff to the tune of Rs. 650 million. This, they say, would cause a price differential between the USC and open market prices of three to eight percent. But the common man, as usual, remain skeptical. I mean there aren't very many USC stores spread around the country and the existing stores generate a rush witnessing which one can only deduce that the stores aren't selling foodstuff but giving it away in charity.
Well, life's always like that. We only hope that by the end of Ramadan, sanity keeps its place and people come out spiritually refreshed, which is the goal of the whole exercise, inspite of all that goes against the sinking in of the lesson of fasting.
This is the first time I am posting so if there are any mistakes please ignore them. My question to everyone is: in this time of today how much of cleansing does fasting really do? I have had friends who fast for the sake of fasting and it is like a duty to them that they have to do once a year for a month.
On the other hand there are people who do not fast at all saying they cannot keep themselves empty for so long. Then there are people who do fast but without the prayers, and as we know that fasting without prayer is as good as being simply hungry for the whole day.
So my question to you is; do you fast? And if you do how much does it cleanse your mind and soul at the end of the month or is it just a practice for a month which does not yield any results at the end of the day?
Your comments please.
My name is Daniel and im from a typical swedish famely. My father is an atheist and my mother is a non practesing Catholic. Im curently traveling the world. This is a trip where i want to experiace new things and get adeeper understanding of other cultures and religons. So when i reed the swedish newspaper online from australa and se its ramadan i decide to try out part of the practices muslims all over the world do under ramadan.
Sawm: I will atemt to fast for the duration of ramadan. fajr is at 0500 and maghrib is around 1900 so 14hrs of fast. Since im a big sweede im a bit worried about the water. Its about 10*c hotter here than it gets back home so i sweat alot... and i work from 1800 to 2400 so i cant sit down and have a meal until 2400 so my food fast is about 19hrs long. But im not to worried
about the food...
I have now been fasting for 11hrs and im not working tonight so my first day will be easyer then the folowing... I woke up at 0445 and had i nice breakfast but i thoght fibre and salt whoud help me hold more water but i realice now that the salt was a mistake. since today is my day of I went out to sunbathe but that was my second mistake... losing all that precius water just to get a nice tan and i nice rest in the sun is somthing that have to wait until next month...
The thirst is the worst so far and im dying for a smoke. im not even fealing the hunger but i gues thirst is stronger than huger.
The only regrets i have about this is that im doing it alone. i have no one to go for suport and more important no one to share my meals with as my friends eat at "normal" times so when the rest of you have a nice dinner with famely and friends after maghrib I have to eat alone... so the
party/festive part of ramadan is mised by me. i gues i have to be in a country with more muslims next year : )
3hrs left of my first day of fast ever. and I like it so far as it gives a nice insight to what it feals like to be thirsty...
Yesterday, being a Sunday, was a nice day to fast. I kept awake all night and slept after Sehri, so pretty much slept through most of the day. If I didn't have to say prayers during the day, I probably would not have gotten up before the time to break fast. I have some distant relatives here whom I hadn't met since I'd come to Hong Kong. Last night they called me for dinner at their place, so had a nice time there (not to mention a good meal).
Today is going rather well actually, as far as feeling hunger is concerned. The problem I'm facing is that my brain is not really responding in the same fashion as it usually does (when it is strung on caffeine). In other words, I'm feeling S-L-O-W, which is not a good thing if you bill time by the hour. The number of billed hours is high and the amount of work done is not much. I remember I used to have the same problem when I was in the US, and at the end of the month, I just ended up not billing most of my time because I felt guilty charging for it.
Just to clarify, I am not addicted to caffeine or anything. I can live without it fine. I just have trouble working without it. *Sigh* An hour and a half to go...
Kaya asked on my last post if I get any concessions at work during Ramadan. The answer to that I guess is that I can get concessions if I ask for them. I don't think anybody would stop me from anything as long as I keep my work on track. But the problem is that I don't want to ask. I just moved to Hong Kong less than three months ago, and by the end of the year, I would probably have taken around 15 days of vacation. I have a feeling if I ask for concesions during the 30 days of Ramadan as well they will start regretting ever hiring me :)
So I'm working my regular timings. Fast will inshaAllah be broken at work with any caffeinated drink and a granola bar!
~A Ramadan Glossary has been added on the left side of the blog.
~Under the Glossary you will find a list of valuable links for charities where you can donate your zakat and sadaqah. (See glossary for an explanation of the words)
~A list of interesting Links with information about Ramadan, Dates, Advice for Diabetics and Asthmatics who want to fast and more, has been added on the right hand side of the Blog.
~A stickam can be found under the Links section playing music and Adhaan (see glossary). Just press the green audio button if it doesn't play by itself. (Sorry UAE readers, Etisalat has blocked it as well as YouTube videos that I post).
~A new Ramadan Poll, currently with 6 different questions will pop up everytime you log on. Do vote!
Hope everyone is enjoying this as much as we are. We wanna hear from you!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
The first night of Ramadan - the anticipation of a new month... of opportunities, for seeking forgiveness, for renewing the faith and aspiring towards a life on the path of Islam... Just back from the First Tarawih ..
The picture is of Nakhoda Mosque, a 75 year old and perhaps the largest mosque in Eastern India, lit up on the eve of Ramadan. It is a routine to light the lamp at the top of the Minara (Tower) at the time of Iftar every evening to let people from afar know that the time to fast is over. Similarly, for Suhoor the light remains on until Subah Sadiq, after which it is put off. This light based signalling system was used in the olden days when there were not many mosques in the city... reminds me of a similar practice using cannons (!!) in Ajmer to signal the sighting of moon (as well as Suhur and Aftar times) during Ramadan.
During the entire month, there is tremedous Raunaq in this part of th city with some major roads covered into markets selling assorted varieties of dishes for Aftaar and dinner. There are also cloth stalls, Perfume (attar) sellers and cap (topi) sellers who make the environment truly wonderous and memorable.
Preparing for Iftar at a restaurant.
A typical plate of Iftari, Dates, Fruit and some Pakoras.
Street Vendor selling grapes in the Industrial Area
Yummy Oily Food
Here's signing in on behalf of India. I am based in Calcutta, India and will Insha Allah keep sending you posts on how Ramadan unfolds in this unique country - the second largest home to Muslims in the world!!
THe latest news is that Ramadan will start in most of the country on Monday 25th September (some parts like Kerala will have started a day or even two earlier ). The unique thing about Ramadan this year is that it conincides with the HIndu festival of Durga Puja in Calcutta.
Calcutta is a multicultural city and people are geenrally very tolerant and understanding about other's faiths and practices. I will keep you updated about the progress on Ramadan in this City of Joy....
However crappy our governments are, they make an effort , that at least during ramadan staples like sugar, flour, ghee, channa (chick peas) and besan (gram flour) among other goods will be sold at a subsidised rate.
This is not an urban legend or myth, the reduction in prices does take place. (its a seperate thing that many shopkeepers do not abide by the stipulations).
Other than dear old Carre4, which has mountains of semolina, ghee, oil, caramel custard, whipping cream, and oh yes DATES, up for grabs.
What happens to the rest of the city?
I had to go buy some qeema (mincemeat) at the same butcher where I have been buying for ages. Its come to a point that I tell him what I want ,pay and walk out and seldom check or calculate the cost.
But, when he asked me to pay 40 dirhams for 2 kg, I paid the money stepped out , and then thought, why 40?
Yes, it sometimes happens that they will give you a little over 2kg and then they try to round up the money etc etc.
I went back and asked him : "Challees dirhams kya hisaab hai?" ( how does it calculate to 40 dirhams)
He informed me that the cost of meat had gone up from 16.00/18.00 to 20.00 dirhams a kg. This is pakistani beef we are talking about which I have bought for 16.00 and sometimes 18.00 a kg.
I did tell him that in Ramadan the prices are supposed to come down , not escalate.
His reply was: Maybe back home. Not here.
So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that everyone seems to be starting the month on the same day. I really do not have much interaction with a lot of Muslims here yet, so I cannot be absolutely certain, but it does seem like we are all going to start on Sunday (which makes it a 30 day month of Sha'ban).
You see Hong Kong, as a whole, is a very organized place. Everything is registered with the government, and is regulated to the extent that you can find everything on government (sponsored) websites, from movie timings at your local theater to the prayer timings at any of the 5 main mosques in Hong Kong. Affairs related to Islam are handled by 'The Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong', as the only organization that is recognized by the government to handle such affairs. They are responsible for ALL mosques, masrassahs and any other Islamic establishments in the area, so you get the same information about the moon-sighting, no matter which place you call to confirm.
So my first Ramadan in Hong Kong seems to have started okay I think. I managed to shop around today for my first week of Sehris and Aftaris, and for some bizzarre reason, decided to stay up the night so that I can sleep during the day. So I'll mess up my sleep schedule today, only to have to fix it tomorrow, since I have to go to work on Monday.
4 am right now... and I'm hardly awake. Thought I'd listen to some Quran during the night but have managed to go through it without doing that. One more hour till the Fajar prayers now... better get cooking!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Since the Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan, extra stress is placed on reading it and also finishing it by the end of Ramadan. However let us also remember that it should be done with some sort of feeling, it's not a race.
Ramadan is also a month of charitable deeds and giving, so in order to motivate my lazy self to finish the entire Qur'an by the last day of Ramadan, I will need your help!
The Koran consists of 30 parts. For every part I read and finish, I want you all to donate a fixed amount of money to a charity or a good cause. I will do the same, and update you on this blog whenever I have finished a part.
Muslims and non Muslims alike, let's all join for a good cause ey? (And help me get my lazy self reading!)
The first of Ramadan is comming to an end here in the UAE. I slept in this morning and went to work late as I was up most of last night working on the blog. As soon as I was on the road today I started noticing things that could be related to ramadan and I had forgotten my camera at home. Inshallah tomorrow I will keep my camera with me to share some pictures from the UAE. Traffic was more then usual in the morning and by the time I was heading back around Iftar time the roads were quite empty, probably due to the change in office hours. Most of the restaurants were sold out of Samosas, Jaleebis, Pakoras and the other usual ramadan stuff well before the iftar time. Here in the UAE restaurants sell and serve almost all the usual stuff you might get back home in Pakistan. The typical Iftari for people who eat at restaurants is a glass of Juice (usually Rohafza), a couple of dates, some pakoras and assorted cut fruit, I had'nt reached home so I had that on the way. Most restaurants do not charge customers for the small plate of iftari and juice they serve.
Picture: Morning traffic opposit the Dubai Airport I felt it was more than usual both ways.
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I just happened to ask some of my Muslim colleagues this morning how first day of Ramadan was treating them? Most surprising answer came from some of them that they were NOT fasting!
I am sure this could be a situation in many offices like mine. This endorses yet another social and relegious responsibility of being Muslim to encourage them to come up with the reason that is preventing them from fasting. Most of the time it is fear of not being able to go through a day without drinking water or eating food, but that was not the reason I cam acroos, it was "I can not go through day without SMOKING".
I take the opportunity to pass this message to all of you, who are fasting that it is our resonsibility to encourage our colleagues at work and help them understand the importance of this Month. It is even bigger responsibility than fasting yourself.
We do not smoke in a public building, office, school, and many other places due to a simple A4 size notice or circular and can go through hours and hours of NO SMOKING but a BOOK which is a complete manual to teach us living and allow others to live, sits some where at home without allowing it to influence our lives no where close to that A4 size memo which determines our conduct at work during the year just before assessement for annual increments.
It shall not be taken as a wake up call but it should be taken as a call which was put on hold while taking and answering other calls. Beauty is that CALLER is not going to hang on you if you took too long to answer it, just answser it. It is more important than calls we make to many 800 numbers.
Ramadan's bell will ring again next year and year after and so on, let us work hard to be on the list to answer this call and not to put it on hold!!!
If we can not make such calls social, we sure can not make a society that we wish to have.
(written by my HUSBAND who will be contributing here as E66, assuming he can remember his password!!!)
(For now Bismillah and his post)
It is preferred to delay Suhour till before dawn, to make sure your body gets the maximum benefits from the nutrients of the Suhour meal and to also supply the body with energy and ease tiredness.
Eating Healthy during Ramadan: For you to get all the nutrients needed by the body, your meals should contain all the basic food groups (bread and grains, fruits and vegetables, meat and beans, milk and dairy products).
Drinking iced water to break your fast does not replenish your thirst but causes your blood vessels to contract and cause indigestion. For this reason, it is recommended to drink water at room temperature or slightly cold.
Water plays a significant role in weight reduction, because it helps to get rid of toxins and reduces the feeling of hunger. So try to drink small quantities of water throughout the night during Ramdan.
Eating sweets immediately after Iftar will increase the size of your stomach and cause a delay in digestion. It will also cause a fluctuation in the blood glucose level, which will lead to you craving for more sweets. That’s why, it is recommended to have it 2-3 hours after Iftar (after Taraweeh prayer).
(source Nestlé site)
May Allah give you the strength, and health to keep all your fasts. May you be showered by his blessings, and enwrapped in Noor.
Mashallah, many Thanks to Shaykspeara and Destitute for starting this blog. I realise they are busy, and it is wonderful that they have managed to get it together.
From my side, I will be posting as much as I can and whenever I can, be it things I will write on my own, or simply cut and paste.I am not claiming to any originality on my posts, as I am here for the sharing of knowledge.
We are not here to critcise, but to share and learn, and clear our many misconceptions.
So in the spirit of this Holy month, let us begin.
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar. Once the sighting of the new moon is authenticated, several customs and practices begin as part of the deep rooted Ramadan tradition. The fundamental aspect of Ramadan is fasting. The primary principle behind fasting is to instruct Muslims the virtues of self discipline, self restraint and kindness. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan reinforces the family ties. At Iftar the entire family along with the friends and acquaintances gather together to break the fast and to greet each other Ramadan Mubarak. Likewise at Suhur the family and friends come together and share the light meal in the spirit of Ramadan.
Fasting also fosters friendship and social interaction as Ramadan is also known as the month of invitation. It that time of the year when friends, family members, colleagues invite their loved ones to their homes to have Iftar together.
Today was the first of ramadan in the UAE, the first roza. Ramadan usually bring about a lot of changes in the lives of people around here. In a country where its still 39-40 degree celcius, office timing are usually changed to accomodate the people for the month of ramadan. School timings are changed. The vibrant night life of Dubai comes to a complete halt, as sale of liqor and operation of night clubs is stopped by the Dubai Muncipality. So if you are a tourist planning on visiting Dubai it is advisable to not come to Dubai during the month of ramadan.
People usually stay awake all night untill Sehri and then go to sleep and sleep in late. All night there are festival and carnival around town and you can see people spending their nights on the beaches and roadsides. Streets are full of decorative lights. Restuarants are not allowed to operate during the day and people are not allowed to drink, eat or smoke in public out of courtsey to the muslim who are fasting. Overall the general attitude of people becomes much better as the spiritual aspect of ramadan brings in the best in most of us. May allah accept our fasting and prayers and forgive us for our mistakes.
In the days leading to Ramadan, there's a lot of activity witnessed both inside and outside of homes. Infact, my mom took a week off, ending today, from her job for the sake of Ramadan preparations (similar to Eid preparations :)). She selected one day to send my father off to the market to fetch stuff that would see the family through with the holy month. A day was selected to partly prepare for Eid too by going to the bazaar to get clothing for the Eid and Jummatul - Wida (last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan) days. Similar activities have been undertaken in other homes too. Remembering the Ramadan days of the past nostalgically once, my mother remarked that times have now changed because of the incresingly fast paced life. She complained that people now don't have enough time on their hands. She remembered that when she was young, a number of mohalla (neighbourhood) ladies would gather together to form a group to discuss their needs for the month and one or two of them would volunteer to venture to one of the city markets to buy stuff for all (the purchases obviously having been prepaid). One of the thing common in the vast suggestions about places to shop from was laloo khet (the Liaquatabad area in Karachi) for foodstuff.
I believe that how much life may have become dissimilar to the past, one thing remains all too common and special: that Ramadan brings with it such a fervour and a general sense of courtesy to the people that is just not visible during any other time of the year.
But this time, we Karachiites expect a hell lot of mayhem in our city. Already, the city's infrastructure is chronically defficient to cater to increased loads and there we have a huge mess in the shape of traffic snarls and broken and under construction roads. Therefore, we expect to end a great number of fasts on the roads.
And have you ever gone through the experience of openeing a fast on the road, specially in Karachi? OMG!! it's one of it's kind of an experience. I remember last year getting stuck up at the Teen Hatti intersection. I was invited to an Iftar party by a friend who resides in Nazimabad and was on my way to his place. The chaos started right after Asr prayers and ended up well after Maghrib prayers. I remember Iftari being offered to me by one of the flower sellers lining Jehangir Road. At another instance, I got stuck up near Nagan Chowrangi. The former came only out of the blue but during the latter occurrence, I had - guess what? - dates in my pockets :) .
Anyways, wishing you a very blissfull and blessed Ramazan!!
I guess we do it today still because of the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad who always opened his fasts with dates.
This fabulous and healthy fudgy fruit has been part of the staple food of the Middle-East as early as 6000 BC. It's super rich in Vitamin C and together with milk makes an excellent diet for Ramadan.
Did you know that there are female and male date palm trees? And these days, although date palms are naturally pollinated by winds, mankind's overconsumption has lead to a need for manual massproduction of dates by human hands. One male plant can with help, pollenize 50 female plants. And contrary to what I thought, Egypt and Iran are the largest producers of dates in the world, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan following closely.
Dates ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the world by their Arabic names kimri (unripe), khalal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). Tamr is also the name by which dates are known in the Arabic language.
Do you always eat dates in Ramadan? Do you use them in your cooking as well?
Blessed Ramadan people!
Every year in Sweden it's the same. There are always two groups of people who decide to start fasting on seperate days resulting in two different Eids. What's the deal?
This year is no different. I got a call from a friend who tells me Ramadan is on Saturday in England, the UAE and Saudia Arabia. Our Grande Mosque in Stockholm have also said they are fasting tomorrow. I checked around with a couple of other people and even Pakistani Television announced that it starts tomorrow.
Then we have this one little group. A group of Pakistani Uncles involved in the tablighi jamaat that happen to run a masjid my father frequents.
Me: Dad everyone is fasting tomorrow (Saturday).
Dad: No no, I just spoke to Uncle so and so and he said it is on Sunday.
Me: Dad, everyone is fasting tomorrow, I am not gonna fast on Sunday.
Dad: But Uncle so and so has said...
I am fasting on Saturday, and this year it still seems that a larger majority than usual has decided to start Ramadan on Saturday which is a great improvement to last years three different Eids!
Swedish stores are now picking up on the whole Ramadan vibe and some even advertise for dates or other products under the occasion of Ramadan. A swedish newspaper has also enlisted a Muslim blogger to blog about her Ramadan experience.
Friday, September 22, 2006
I was out of the city yesterday and today and just got home figured the best way to get everyone involved would be to set up a separate blog. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contribute to the blog.