Thursday, October 18, 2007

Post-Ramadan Lull?

I don’t think many of us realize how lucky we are to be practicing Islam in the US. The ease with which we are able to practice our religion is something we take for granted. Think about how easy Ramadan was. Sure, the days were long this year round, but food was readily-available for iftar. We had alarm clocks to wake us up for suhoor. Most of us live ridiculously close to multiple masajid and have access to eminent scholars.

We only have to look to other countries to see how much struggle some of our brothers and sisters endure to practice this beautiful deen. I’m posting a excerpts from some articles I found touching during Ramadan.

Ramadan 'alarm clocks' tread risky path in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) - In the pitch-dark early hours, men beating drums walk the narrow lanes of Indian Kashmir to wake people from their beds for a hearty pre-dawn feast ahead of a day of Ramadan fasting.

The human alarm clocks are the only ones who dare venture out at night in the revolt-hit region, where nocturnal pedestrians run the risk of a tough grilling or even a bullet from nervous Indian security forces. …

But the tradition goes back years, perhaps centuries, and the drum beaters say the Ramadan job is a vital source of income. …

"My heartbeat increases when I approach a security bunker. You never know, but I think now they (the Indian soldiers) are aware of the tradition." …

During the early years of the insurgency, the Indian army did not take too well to cries of "Wakhta-e-Sahar" -- often accusing the drum beaters of alerting militants ahead of security raids.

"It takes them time to comprehend what I am doing, but now they understand I am not out there for fun," Gulzar Lone, another wake-up man, said of the Indian security forces.

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Food price hikes weigh on Malaysian Muslims this Ramadan

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - It's Ramadan in Malaysia and the days of the Muslim fasting month usually mean fairy lights, dinner tables groaning with dishes, and an upbeat mood.

But this year many householders such as 45-year-old Siti Nora are upset and frustrated as sharp increases in the price of staple foods have meant that "breaking fast" is a much more meagre affair. …

"Definitely, the hike in prices will dampen our merry mood as we Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr celebration," she said, referring to the festival which marks the conclusion of Ramadan this weekend.

The cost of basic items such as chicken, eggs, flour and condensed milk have all risen by up to 50 percent thanks to a price creep which began last year and has spiked in recent weeks.

"A 250 gram pack of butter is now priced at 2.80 ringgit, up from 1.80 ringgit last year," she said, adding that her monthly grocery bill has jumped to at least 500 ringgit (147 dollars) from 300 ringgit (33 dollars) before.

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Paris Ramadan radio raps Muslim ignorance of Islam

PARIS (Reuters) - It's late of a Ramadan evening in Paris, the iftar dinners are finished and Muslims from around France are calling Ahmed el Keiy to ask questions about Islam.

"Can I wear perfume during Ramadan?" a young girl asks. "How about hair gel?" a boy wants to know.

El Keiy, a lawyer-turned-journalist, devotes his nightly radio phone-in show to Islam during the holy month and wants to discuss big ideas.

But his listeners keep asking about details.

"Why do we get so many questions about how to practice Islam?" he asks listeners and three imams invited to the cramped studio of Beur FM, a popular station for "beurs" -- the French-born sons and daughters of North African immigrants.

"Nobody teaches us religion," says one caller named Nacera. "Our parents were illiterate," caller Najet adds, "so you see people who don't know how to say their prayers properly, or exactly what to do during Ramadan."

France has Europe's largest Muslim minority. Thanks to a long tradition of relations with the Arab world, it is home to many Muslim intellectuals -- both foreign and French -- and experts on the Islamic world.

But in the poor areas where many of the country's 5 million Muslims live, ignorance prevails.

Illiterate elders follow a sketchy folk Islam, many imams preach at Friday prayers without any training and many young people construct a do-it-yourself religion.

Most of the 1,200 imams in France have no formal training and one-third do not speak French.

1 comment:

Z said...

Wow this was very interesting! Thanks for posting.