“Ramadan Kareem!”

By Luna Brozzi • 2 Sep 2008 • 6 Commenti

allah(Translation: Ramadan is Generous)

More than one billion Muslims around the world are exchanging this salute these days.
September 1st, 2008 marked the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, the most blessed month of the year. Ramadan is believed to be the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to Angel Gabriel and then later on to Prophet Muhammad. It is a month in which Muslims fast from sunrise (fajer) to sunset (maghrib). This means they cannot drink, eat, cuss, lie, smoke, or perform sexual activities. Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God Almighty by fasting. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, sacrifice, and sympathy for those who are less fortunate.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and has approximately eleven days less than the solar calendar; thus, Ramadan comes at a different date every year, usually ten days before. For example, in 2007 Ramadan began the 13th of September. Every year Ramadan is closer and closer to the summer season, where days and fasting hours are longer.
Living Ramadan in an Arabic country is a very special and unique experience. The country transforms in such a way that you can breathe the essence of Ramadan in the air. In Syria, the canons fire twice a day in order to mark the beginning and end of fasting. Work hours are shortened so that the families can be home earlier in order to prepare themselves for the break of the fast (iftar) at sunset which includes prayer and a meal deserving of a king. Restaurants open only for iftar and close at the sight of the first rays of light when fasting begins once again. People, along with stores, are in the street and awake till dawn. Mini Luna-Parks are set up all over the country. There are special foods served during this period including dates, fried bread covered in date paste, dried figs, and almonds. Lanterns and small yellow lights are hung in the streets. It is a time to spend with family and friends; a time to share.
A typical day during Ramadan begins very early with waking up before sunrise to have a cup of water, a bit to eat, and performing the morning prayer. The day continues as any other day of the year except there is the struggle of refraining from drinking or eating; it is continuous self-discipline. At sunset, fast is broken with a grand meal including rice, meat, vegetables, dips, and infinite Arabic deserts. This is followed by visiting or being visited by family and friends, shopping, and rest. At night, people gather at the mosques to hear the recital of the Qur’an as during Ramadan the Qur’an must be read in its entirety. This is followed by the Suhur meal which begins around 11 pm and can last until dawn. On one of the last ten days of Ramadan, Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Decree) is proclaimed; it is the anniversary of the night Muslims believe the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel and it is also the anniversary of the night in which the Qur’an is believed by Muslims to have been revealed in its entirety. Muslims gather at the mosque and pray all night as it is believed that Allah (God) will grant any desire wished for during this night. The last days of Ramadan are characterized by stores open 24/7, traffic all day and night, excitement. Ramadan comes to an end at the end of the month with Eid al-Fitr (festival of breaking the fast) which consists of donating money and food to the poor (Zakat), resting, and feasts.
For a non-Mulsim, it is very interesting to follow and be part of these traditions that date back centuries. Respect is obviously the rule of the day; as a non-Muslim it would be discourteous to be in the street and start drinking water in the middle of a scorching summer day. During iftar, driving around the streets is eerie, not a human in sight, as if everyone had fled. Ramadan is a special month but at the same time very difficult; each day is a fight against temptation. The struggle of fasting, the desire to be closer to a greater being, the faith, the uniting of millions across the world, it personally reminds me of Christmas when for one moment you feel the world is at peace, too busy celebrating to fight.
In Italy there are one million Muslims; many more than I had imagined. They too fast during the month of Ramadan. It must be all the harder to do so in a non-Muslim country where the majority do not fast and temptations are swirling around you. Imagine walking in the heat running errands, you’re thirsty, your mouth and throat get parched, finally a store with cold water, the liberation, the trickling of water down your throat into the rest of your body. Imagine not being able to do that for hours, till sunset! This month when you see a veiled woman, an Arabic man/woman, instead of the first thought being “terrorist, immigrant, osama bin laden,” think a moment longer and admire him/her for their endurance. Today we are surrounded by different languages, different nationalities, different religions, beliefs, traditions, difference being the key word. The only way we can co-exist is to learn about these differences and more importantly to respect them instead of trying to decide who is superior when clearly such a decision depends from whose perspective it is being made… Accept, Do Not Impose!

intercultural dialogueIslamMusulmaniRamadan
Luna Brozzi

Luna Brozzi Italy, Syria, China, United States, Middle East & Europe have been my homes; each one has molded me in its own special way. The Middle East holds a particular place in my heart and my desire is to change the perception the world has of this area. Born in 1983, no fixed location and no plan on settling anywhere anytime soon, follows Mahatma Gandhi’s words “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
| All the articles by Luna Brozzi

Comments: 6 »

  1. Tollerance is the only way in order to appreciate differnces!

    I was living in Turkey 3 years ago, and I lived the Ramadan too. It’s incredible how they can fast for such a long time, from the sunshine to the sunset. Once i was walking and a bus was turning, a taxy was behind the bus ( during ramadan, 6 p.m.), something happened but no clash! They start quarreling, at a certain point both two riders came back in their own cabin and they got out with knives, in order to fight. We can say that 9 hours fasting make you nervous. After the IFTAR, and during that, you can really see a holiday!
    Does fasting make sense?

  2. Hi Edoardo!
    Yes long hours of fasting can make them nervous especially if they are rushing home to eat but i think it’s more than understandable. “does fasting make sense”… all religions have a tradition of fasting (ex. in catholicism you have a period of fasting before Christmas and Easter) but believing and doing it is a personal choice… its all about faith at the end. sometimes things don’t have to make sense, do they?!

  3. YAY! I’m super proud of this article! Fabulous! Changing people’s perspective is really important during these times…Syria is a fantastic place to live year round, and I strongly urge everyone to visit! Thanks Lu!!!!

  4. luns, this is a great article which is truly able to give someone who doesn’t know anything about Islam, an idea of what this month is all about. There are many non-muslims in Syria, and I’m one of them, however, regardless of that, the atmosphere during Ramadan is truly enjoyable, as besides the fasting, there are many special activities that occur including new tv series set for this time as well as the grand iftars and suhurs, to name a few.
    If anyone has a chance to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan, they will be lucky to be able to join in this experience and have the opportunity to learn about the Middle East, Islam and Arabs to a great extent.

  5. luna alammoura oh my god i am so happy about your description of this holy month i can can almost feel the scent of the street of Damascus . I am always proud of u and ur accomplishment. You are the most cleaver person i ever seen. With love- mama hanan farha

  6. Luna what an illustrious style of writing you have you’ve really captured the spirit of this month! I think it’s important to raise and spread that awareness to others and hopefully the will see the region in a different light. You raise an interesting point about how different faiths who live in the Middle East experience and view this month. My next door neighbor is an Egyptian Coptic and having lived in Cairo for over 20 years, he describes Ramadan as being the time of generosity and humbleness. He described it being like a special aura one only experiences in during this month. It’s always interesting to hear the conversations and dialogues from various faiths talk about this holy month. Great article!

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