Friday, September 11, 2009
I took this definition of "Ramadan" from Wickepedia.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the Muslim patience, modesty and spirituality. Ramaḍān is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God, and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramaḍān, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. As compared to solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving forward about ten days each year as it is a moving festival depending on the moon. Ramadhan was the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were claimed to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
When I returned to Egypt from the States 3 - 4 weeks ago it was Ramadan. Now, I don't know what the Muslims' attitude of Ramadan is, but I don't particularly look forward to this time of year. For the non-Muslim, it means a few inconveniences in our lives for those weeks. Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke, etc. from dawn until sunset during this time, so sometimes there are shops, restaurants, and other things that do not open till later in the day. Also, the traffic in the afternoon is terrible. I usually leave the school I teach at around 3:30 in the afternoon. On a day that the traffic is not bad, I can usually make it home in 20 to 30 minutes, but on an afternoon during Ramadan, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half.
As you read in the definition above, this fasting time is meant to teach patience. I think this is a great concept, and I really do hope it works, but sometimes during Ramadan we see tempers flare. Now I can't really say that I blame them. I try to put myself in their shoes. First of all, Egyptians drink a lot of tea and coffee, (as do I), and I just can't imagine doing without these things and not getting my caffiene fix all day long. Secondly, there is the added frustration for those who smoke who are not getting their nicotene fix. Now, add on to this the problems of hunger pangs and being thirsty, and right now we have the added struggle of Ramadan being during part of the hottest part of the year. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't think this would do much for my patience.
After this next weekend, Ramadan will be over. There is a celebration at the end of Ramadan that I hopefully will get around to doing a post on. So, hang on to your hats and let's get ready to celebrate.