9538Ramadan Mubarak everyone
- Jun 28, 2014For all the information you need on Ramadan, see: http://www.islamawareness.net/Ramadhan/
Ramadan will begin on Sunday for most in the Middle East #Religion This weekend is the start of Ramadan, the Muslim Holy month of fasting, which will be observed by almost 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide
Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, will begin on Sunday in Saudi Arabia and most other countries in the Middle East.
According to Islamic tradition, it is the sighting of the new moon that signals the start of Ramadan. Since the crescent moon was unable to be seen with the naked eye on Friday, it was announced in Saudi Arabia that Ramadan would begin on Sunday.
Other Gulf monarchies, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also said Ramadan will start in their countries on Sunday.
Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories and other regions will also mark the start of the holy month on the same day.
The decision as to when Ramadan will start was not completely unanimous though with Yemen, Turkey and Lebanon's religious authorities, issuing statements that fasting would begin on Saturday.
During Ramadan, Muslim believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having intimate relations from dawn until sunset.
Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.
Muslims are urged during this time to not only abstain from wrongdoing but to increase the number of good deeds they do, including acts of charity.
Preparations in the West Bank
Ramdan is an opportunity for regions undergoing difficulty to refocus their energies and refocus spiritually and socially.
Palestinians are busy decorating streets, doors and windows of their homes in the West Bank in anticipation of Ramadan.
"Ramallah streets [are] decorated with lights in celebration of the holy month of Ramadan," Ramallah mayor Musa Hadidi told Anadolu Agency.
"Despite the current bad situation, municipalities are determined to create an atmosphere of joy in the West Bank cities during Ramadan," he added.
The holy month begins amid a grinding financial crisis in the Palestinian territories since Israel imposed punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority following the collapse of the U.S.-sponsored peace talks in April.
"The daily expenses grow significantly and merchants increase prices, leaving employees unable to afford these costs," Khalaf Hamed, a Palestinian resident, said.
However, Hamed, like many Palestinians, is happy to welcome the fasting month despite the hardships.
"It is very nice and symbolic that the streets are being decorated for Ramadan," he said. "We really feel the spirit of Ramadan."
One of the main Ramadan features in the West Bank is the iftar tents, where Palestinians gather to entertain themselves during the fasting month.
"After Taraweeh (special nightly Ramadan prayers), we gather in Ramadan tents were we celebrate the holy month with our families," Mohand Mustafa told AA.
"I hope that Ramadan will bring blessings to my people and the whole Islamic nation," he added.
Ramadan: Five things you may not know
27 June 2014 Last updated at 16:25
One of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan is a religious obligation for all healthy adult Muslims who are able to fast from sunrise to sunset.
Muslims believe that the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. To mark this sacred occasion, they go without food and liquids, smoking and having sex during daylight hours for a month.
But what are some of the lesser known facts about one of the biggest festivals in the Muslim calendar?
The fasting lapse
There are over one and a half billion Muslims in the world, and those adults who are healthy look to Ramadan as a time to honour Allah by fasting. But there was a time in recent history when Ramadan and other Muslim practices were not strictly observed.
Dr Carool Kersten, senior lecturer in the study of Islam and the Muslim world at King's College London, explains:
"A number of large Muslim countries were secular or secularizing through the 1930s to the 1960s, with ideas of pan-Arabism and socialism taking a foothold."
Initially, this was the result of decolonisation and globalisation; later, it was because the communist-led USSR was sponsoring countries from Syria to Egypt and Iraq.
In line with Marxist ideology, the Soviet Union expected people to be atheists so, according to Dr Kersten, it is not surprising that this resulted in a weakening of religious observance. Such external influences gave rise to an era when Muslims experimented with Western ideologies.
This perspective changed again in the 1970s. The Iranian revolution broke in 1979, while further east in Afghanistan various mujahideen groups started fighting the Soviets, re-shaping the Muslim world once more. Dr Kersten, who spent a number of years living in the Middle East, says:
"From the late 1970s there is a sort of pious behaviour, I would call it. Of course with dress code it is clearly obvious. But with respect to fasting and abstaining from alcohol, people would sort of drop that into conversation."
What was happening politically had a direct impact on the social scene of the Muslim world and how Muslims themselves wanted to be perceived.
'Ramadan rush hour'
In many Islamic states the time on the roads before breaking the daily fast is known as 'Ramadan rush hour'. After a long day of fasting, typical daily activities such as driving or commuting home can be become very taxing.
This year in the United Arab Emirates, Road Safety UAE has launched a set of guidelines to encourage public safety on the roads during Ramadan. Their tips include:
Always wear your seat belt - Ramadan is a good time to finally start this habit!
Watch out for other traffic participants potentially under the same effects.
Motorists should try to anticipate sudden movements by others, including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.
Dubai's police force will increase the number of street patrols during 'Ramadan rush hour' in an effort to combat aggressive driving.
World Cup dilemmas
This is the first time in 28 years that the World Cup has coincided with Ramadan.
European teams progressing past the group stages that include Muslim players are France, the Netherlands and Germany. Players such as Germany's Mesut Ozil, France's Karim Benzema and Belgium's Morouane Fellaini will have to make a decision as to whether to adhere to fasting or to wait until their World Cup campaign is over.
Algeria and Nigeria, where Muslims make up respectively 99% and 50% of the population, are the only African countries to qualify for the knockout stage.
During the 2012 Olympics in London the United Arab Emirates football team was granted an exemption from fasting, as Ramadan clashed with the games. This meant the players could begin their fasting when the tournament was over for them.
But if the Muslim players in the World Cup decide to fast for Ramadan, it will be with the added challenges of playing in a subtropical climate in the middle of the day.
Ramadan is big business
Although Ramadan is about self-control, it is also a time to be charitable. Muslims believe their charitable actions during the holy month have a longer lasting effect and the gates of hell are closed, so Satan's influence cannot reach them.
Ramadan sales take place in shopping centres in Dubai, but rather than slash prices, stores prefer to offer customers small gifts in exchange for spending money on their brands.
Shoppers also spend their money on Arab sweets and dates to break the fast when the sun sets. Other retail lovers use the time to buy new clothes for Eid al-Fitr, the time to celebrate the end of the fasting period.
At Eid al-Fitr Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but also thanking Allah for the help and strength he gave them to fast.
I name this child
Ramadan may be the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, but it also gained some popularity as a first name for Muslim boys in the USA in the 1990s.
This may seem unusual if compared with Christian naming traditions: children are often named after saints and virtues, but Easter is yet to make an appearance on naming popularity polls.
Happy Ramadan! Woolworths defends politically-correct signs at hundreds of stores celebrating Islamic fasting festival
Woolworths Facebook page bombarded by complaints from shoppers offended by 'Happy Ramadan' signs put up at 239 stores
Conservative blog accuses the company of backing 'Islamic terrorism'
Woolworths denies any comments were made on the social media page
By LEESA SMITH
PUBLISHED: 01:43, 27 June 2014 | UPDATED: 00:32, 28 June 2014
The simple gesture of ‘Happy Ramadan’ signs across 239 Woolworths supermarkets has caused outrage among some offended customers.
The supermarket chain’s Facebook page was bombarded by comments from customers threatening to boycott the stores displaying the signs in areas with large Muslim populations, according to the Herald Sun.
There was some confusion surrounding the Facebook comments with Woolworths spokesman Russell Mahoney stating he was not aware of any such comments, but contacted MailOnline later to clarify that 'very few comments' about Ramadan had been removed.
'In relation to Facebook complaints, our policy is to leave them on the site unless they do not meet our terms and conditions and are offensive or insulting. We have removed very few comments around Ramadan,' he said. 'Around 18 million customers visit our stores every week but we receive very few complaints about our Ramadan promotion.'
He said Woolworths was running a campaign to celebrate Ramadan in supermarkets that have a high concentration of customers who observe the celebration.
'We'd done this for a number of years as we do for other festivals including Diwali, Lunar New Year, Passover among others,' he said. 'The number of stores participating this year is slightly higher than last year.'
But the Australian Conservative Truth blog hit out at Woolworths saying the company 'backs islamic terrorism and slaughterfest of Ramadan - declares war on Aussies'.
'Just when you though (sic) Australia couldn't get any more crazy, now its number one grocery store, Woolworths is promoting islamic terrorism - wishing people Happy Ramadan (and event which usually involves mass murder by muslims around the world and a barbaric slaughter of helpless animals at the end (countless pictures of blood soaked events on the net)' the blog said.
This is not the first time the public has erupted over the supermarket chain's celebration of the Islamic fasting festival that runs for a month until July 27.
Customers expressed their disgust last year when signs were displayed across some stores.
Mick Lamb commented about the signs at the Mirrabooka store on the company's Facebook page on July 8 last year.
'Please take down references to Ramadan. It is offensive,' he posted.
'Your Mirrabooka store is promoting cruel and barbaric halal ritual slaughter of animals by promoting it.'
Twitter launches Ramadan 'hashflags'
Muslim users will also be able to find out the times of iftar and imsak on the service
Turkey's Ramadan drummers
27 June 2014 Last updated at 16:18 BST
During Ramadan in Turkey, Muslims are traditionally woken for their pre-dawn meal by drummers who take to the streets.
This tradition is in danger of dying out, but in the city of Istanbul they are trying to find new ways to keep it alive.
Drummer Seydi Urut explains why he became a drummer and why it is so important to him.
Ramadan 2014: The Persecuted Muslims who Have Nothing to Celebrate
By Ludovica Iaccino
June 26, 2014 10:36 BS
While many of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are preparing to celebrate Ramadan, the month of fasting, there are some who will not be free to acknowledge the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.
IBTimes UK looks at some of the countries where Muslims are persecuted for their beliefs and also looks back at examples of persecution of Muslims throughout history.
Muslims are currently persecuted in:
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority, originally from Bangladesh, who live in the predominantly Buddhist of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) .
Buddhist extremists refuse to acknowledge the Rohingya and claim they are Bengalis who belong in neighbouring Bangladesh.
A New York Times short documentary broadcast this month, shows how Myanmar authorities confine the Rohingya to 'quasi-concentration camps' or to their own villages, with reduced/minimal access to medical care and education.
More than 230 people have been killed in religious violence in Myanmar since June 2012 and more than 140,000 have been displaced.
Central African Republic (CAR)
The CAR conflict has pitted Muslim Seleka forces against Christian Anti-Balaka militias since the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim Michel Djotodia in 2012.
The two have continued to engage in tit-for-tat violence resulting in more than 2,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of displacements since.
Thousands of Muslims have fled Christian-majority areas as sectarian violence continues to rise.
"We didn't want the Muslims here and we don't want their mosque here anymore either,'' Christian looter Guy Richard told news agency AP after more than 1,200 Muslims had fled the capital Bangui.
The Uyghur people are a Turkic Muslim minority living in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, known also as East Turkestan, in China.
The Uyghurs are subjected to religious discrimination by the Chinese government.
Since the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, some Uyghurs have demanded complete autonomy from the Chinese government.
Former Chinese leader Mao Zedong launched an anti-rightist campaign in 1957, aimed at purging dissidents and critics of the government. The campaign was believed to have also targeted the Uyghur nationalists.
During the Great Leap Forward Campaign (1958-1962), hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs fled Xinjiang to Soviet Union, due to a widespread famine.
China accuses Uyghur militants of waging a violent campaign for an independent state; however, Beijing is often accused of exaggerating Uyghur's extremism to justify its religious crackdown on the Muslim minority.
Muslims have been often felt persecuted in India - the world's largest Islamic community - by the Hindu majority.
Between 50,000-200,000 Muslims were believed to have been killed in pogroms in Hyderabad in 1948, during the Partition crisis.
Since independence, India has always maintained a constitutional commitment to secularism but Muslim-Hindu conflict hasd never been far from the surface. Since then, India has witnessed sporadic large-scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities.
The sense of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in the post-partition period was compromised greatly by the razing of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. The demolition took place in 1992 and was perpetrated by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Last month, Narendra Modi, the leader of the BJP, was sworn in as India's new prime minister. Questions still persist over PM Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, when up to 2,000 Muslims were killed in religious riots. Human rights groups and the media have accsued Modi, who led the the Gujarat government at the time, for inflaming the violence and not protecting the Muslim community form the mob.
In November 2013 Angola ordered the shutdown of all mosques and declared Islam illegal.
Minister of culture Rosa Cruz e Silva called Islam a "sect" which would be banned as counter to Angolan customs and culture.
Muslims account for less than 1% of the population of 19 million, while more than half of the former Portuguese colony in south west Africa subscribe to Christianity.
Clashes between the two communities are frequently reported in the local media. Muslims, many of whom migrated from west Africa and Lebanon, often face hostility from lawmakers.
Examples of persecution and ethnic cleansings of Muslims in recent history:
Bosnia During the Bosnian War (1992-1995) Bosnian Serb forces carried out an ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims and Serbian Croats.
The Bosnian genocide took place in the towns of Srebrenica and Žepain 1995.
Between 7,000- 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were believed to have been killed in Srebrenica in July 1995. Another 30,000 were forced to flee.
Bosnian genocide trials are still ongoing.
Russian forces carried out violence and ethnic cleansing attacks of Chechen Muslims after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Russian troops entered Chechnya in October 1991, after the Islamic International brigade had invaded the Republic of Dagestan.
Several NGOs accused Russian troops of war crimes against Chechen Muslims.
Human Rights Watched documented the violence carried out by Russian troops on Muslim civilians in Novye Ald.
The toll is unknown.
Tensions among Chechens and Russians still continue.
3 Things You Should Avoid This Ramadan to Make It More Spiritually Meaningful
Posted: 06/27/2014 5:37 pm EDT
As I sit here writing this, I am exuberant with joy that Ramadan is almost here! We, Pakistanis, are always fashionably late; so that should explain why we start fasting a day after most other countries.
Anyhow! Personally speaking, Ramadan is my favorite time of the year -- a month I exclusively dedicate to my relationship with God, focusing on spiritual growth and reflections. It would be great if every Muslim tried to make a conscious effort in changing some part of their personality that needs to be improved during Ramadan, but this, unfortunately, is not the case. It is sad to note how each year Ramadan is wasted, and so the primary purpose of this blog is to address those issues.
As Ramadan approaches, Muslims suddenly change character. They fast, occupy the mosques, read the Quran, give away in charities, and try to avoid all the detrimental things they've become accustomed to. But as soon as it is over, they revert back to their ways of old, happily content that they've performed their religious rights and have pleased God. It's almost as if Eid liberates them from their moral responsibilities they so fervently upheld in Ramadan!
So, here are the three things you should try to avoid in this Ramadan:
1) Don't Take Fasting As An End In Itself
I've always thought of Ramadan as a training program, and this really helps me keep things in perspective. To convey my point, let's take the example of an intensive revision class set up by your university to help you achieve your goal: passing the exam.
Now here's what happens: The students make it incumbent upon themselves to attend every class, but pay no attention whatsoever to what they're doing. Having sat in these classes for a month, they expect the professor to be pleased with them for attending all his classes, hoping that he would pass them in the exam because of their dedication. Unprepared as they were, they miserably fail the exam, and thus repeat the year. For many, this becomes an on-going process. But, any sign of progress is nowhere to be found!
You probably understand the analogy. A major factor of why this happens, though, is because religious people tend to take their rituals and rights as an end in themselves, rather than taking them as a means to an end. They think, albeit naively, that performing these rituals somehow pleases God, and so they have no incentive to make an effort and derive any values from the rituals they perform.
The mere act of fasting, in no way, pleases God. This is an idea alien to the Quran. Rather, the purpose of fasting is that it should teach us self-control, make us more conscious of God (2:183), and develop an attitude of gratitude (2:185)! It is by these values that we attain during Ramadan, that boosts our relationship with God and helps us in connecting with It.
Otherwise, what's the point?
2) Don't Read The Quran In A Language You Don't Understand
This is something that needs to be stressed a lot, before we come out of the Arab supremacy complex.
I realize how hard it is to pick up the Quran and read it, for the first time. So, for those of you that have never read the Quran, the month of Ramadan provides an excellent platform. Presumably, your family members would already be reading the Quran this month, so the environment is all set up for action! However, I implore you not to make the mistake of reading the Quran in Arabic if you don't understand it. Indeed, that defeats the whole purpose of sending down revelation!
"A book we have revealed to you so that it may bring people out of ignorance, towards enlightenment." Quran, 14:2
The purpose of the Quran has never been to encourage people to read it for the sake of it, or to attain rewards! Needless to say, you don't become enlightened by reading it in a foreign language.
As I wrote in a previous blog:
"What was supposed to be a book with a revolutionary message, you revolve around it, not understanding a word of what it says.
What was supposed to be a book that was meant to transform your heart, you don't even let it cross your brain." (I encourage you to read the entire blog here.)
[Side note: You'd probably have a translation of the Quran in your home, but if not, you should download this translation here.]
If you're looking to read the entire Quran this month, then let me do the math for you. There are 30 Juz (parts) in the Quran, each Juz consisting of roughly 20 pages. So, 30 days and 30 Juz. Still with me? Good. One Juz every day. 20 pages. Yeah, not so much, is it? Of course, there is no "rule" that you have to read the entire Quran. Read whatever is easy to read. Quality over quantity, always!
Moreover, if you intend to attend Taraweeh, do realize that although these are optional, they're a great way of reviewing the message of the Quran in Ramadan. I'll repeat this again: Please don't just stand there for the sake of it, having no idea of what is being recited. It defeats the purpose. Take your translation with you to the mosque, or if you don't have one, you could always download it on your cell phone and take that instead. Whatever you do, make good use of it!
If things go as planned, I intend to start a BACK2QURAN project, in which I will be writing short summaries of every chapter in the Quran. Be on the lookout for those! (The first part is up! Read it here.)
3) Don't spend in charities to accumulate rewards
As per popular opinion, spending in the month of Ramadan supposedly earns more rewards as it is deemed to be a "blessed" month. But to donate money in hopes of accumulating rewards is very paradoxical indeed!
The purpose of giving is just that: giving! No more, no less. We should help others, not only in Ramadan but all year round, simply because it is the right thing to do. It is what the soul yearns for! Expecting "rewards" for our service makes the whole process unnatural. It's no more about benefiting others anymore, it becomes self-centered. The ego comes in: "What can I get from this?"
Spend, because the other person deserves it. Understand his condition, and give selflessly. Suppress the ego, and boost your soul! Be altruistic!
In the famous words of Rumi: "When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy!"
It's always best to maintain a balance, and Ramadan is no exception. Don't burn yourself, but don't waste it either. What are the goals you wish to achieve this Ramadan? Jot them down, now! Written goals are easier to review and evaluate progress.
A major theme of the Quran is that of accountability, self-control, and being conscious of God. If you think about it, these are the values that fasting should help us internalize. And if one internalizes these values from the core of their being, then nothing could steer you towards wrong-doing.
This Ramadan, re-gain control of yourself!
Pink mosque to open to Muslims in Maguindanao for Ramadan
By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated June 27, 2014 - 11:57am