Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ramadan Karim

Where do I even begin?! Let’s start with the important stuff—it’s Ramadan! What is Ramadan you ask?

Ramadan is a time of fasting for the Islamic people. Each day during this month, Muslims all over the world abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, as well as participating in anything that is ill-natured or excessive; from dawn until the sun sets. Fasting is intended to educate the Muslim in spirituality, humility and patience. It is a time to cleanse the soul, focus attention on God, and put into practice selflessness. Ramadan is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God and to put forward more prayer than is customary. During Ramadan, Muslims request forgiveness for sins in the past, pray for direction and assistance in abstaining from everyday troubles, and endeavor to cleanse themselves through self-control and great acts of faith. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of the Islam religion, and one of the main types of Islamic worship. Restraint from everyday enjoyment and curbing wicked intentions and cravings are considered as an act of compliance and obedience to God, as well as amends for sins, faults, and mistakes. -

So now that you know the basics what does that mean for me living in a Muslim country? Well, fasting during Ramadan is compulsory for anyone who has reaching the age of pubery, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The Qur'an makes exceptions for certain groups, like the elderly, chronically ill, mentally ill, travelers, pregnant woman, menstruating woman and nursing woman however if able, the days missed during fast this year must be made up next year…. So the big question…. Am I fasting? Nope. A lot of Peace Corps volunteers do fast, it’s a GREAT way to integrate into your community but not something I was prepared to do this year after being sick and having a trip to Spain planned during Ramadan… next year, however, is a different story.

So what happens during Ramadan? As you can imagine there are a lot of hungry, thirsty, nicotine deprived people out and about. Most people try to sleep as long as they can during the day, naps are taken by almost everyone during what would be normal lunch time (with extended hours so ‘lunch time’ now happens from about 12-4) and then not much is done again until break fast (lfdur, which literally translates to breakfast) at 7:30pm. At 7:30pm everyone eats dates, sweets, hariera (soup), juice, bread, jam, butter and anything else that the family can afford. Its great to see the whole family eating together around one big table… I’ve celebrated break fast with two families, my neighbors the first night and my landlords family more recently (they have come to my house every night asking me to come over again- which I will do tomorrow, inshallah (god willing). I love being included in the lfdur meal, its also been great since its summer time and everyone has family visiting from Europe or the big cities. Lfdur usually lasts about 30 minutes of stuffing your face and chugging water then regular dinner at about 10:30pm. After dinner everyone sleeps for a few hours until dawn at about 3:30am when the mosques all go off and everyone eats and drinks one last time until lfdur again at 7:30pm…. And that is how the 29-30 days of Ramadan are spent here in the bl3d (rural areas) of Tidili…

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