A South African Muslimah's Blog

Constructing Identity: Loud Whispers, Lasting Echoes

"Bearly" There August 26, 2008

Filed under: history of Ramadan,Ramadan,significance of Ramadan — Safiyyah @ 11:06 am

Ramadan is about to be born.
How do I know? Supermarkets are pregnant with “Ramadan specials”, wives are stocking up pantries, fridges and freezers with the indulgence and frenzy that accompanies a new-born, me included. There is something about preparing the Futoor (dusk meal) for the family, that is so satisfying!

It will be my first Ramadan in this new home, and I am really looking forward to the new experience, Dubai being an inundated river of Muslims from so many different backgrounds and cultures, it should be interesting! Why just the other day, we stumbled unknowingly into a Bohri masjid, to pray the Maghrib Salah in old Dubai, and came to face to face with a fully fledged community, in the midst of a congregational Dhikr (meditation), with email address and all!

Ramadan and its idiosyncrasies – tolerance, generosity, piety, kindness, and… hibernation. Yes, hibernation. It seems that Muslims undergo a startling metamorphosis which miraculously turns us into – bears.

Whilst reading an interesting article on the history of Ramadan, and the important events that occurred in this sacred month, it struck me that the Ramadan of today is so far from that of the Prophet’s (PHUB) day. The author details all the political, military and economic decisions and campaigns carried out by Muhammad (PBUH) in Ramadan, which is quite contrary to the semi-dead attitude of many of Muslims during this month. The essence of Ramadan, is that, removed from the base instincts of eating, drinking and sexual intercourse during the day, our time and energy is set free, to focus on the 3 P’s of Islam, prayer, politics and poverty. It should not be used as a month to catch up on a year worth of sleep!

Tariq Ramadan, with his usual words of wisdom and profound piety, wrote, “The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) had warned “Some people only gain from their fast the fact that they are hungry and thirsty.” He was speaking of those who fast as mechanically as they eat. They deprive themselves from eating with the same unawareness and the same thoughtlessness as they are used to eating and drinking. In fact, they transform it into a cultural tradition, a fashionable celebration, even a month of banquets and “Ramadan nights”. A fast of extreme alienation.. a fast of counter-Meaning.”

There is no denying that Ramadan is a month of celebrating our common beliefs, that it is a festival of life, and a tribute to the poor, and I love the spirit of “togetherness” that Ramadan brings with it, amongst many other things, but also, sadly takes away with it, along with its’ generosity, tolerance and immaterialism; when it leaves. Perhaps it time to grapple with Ramadan and seize some of its virtues for the rest of the year, wrestling being the speciality of bears 🙂

Welcome Oh Ramadan!

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3 Responses to “"Bearly" There”

  1. Noorjehaan Says:

    thanks i learnt a lot from the article. sometimes i wished i had majored in islamic history. then i could write a book on how to take such lessons and apply them in the 21st century…

  2. Safiyyah Says:

    u dont have to major in IH to apply the principles to life, i suggest you start by reading, fatima mernissi is great for explaining history through womens eyes, and the volumnus encyclopedia of Islam is undoubtedly the best expose n Islamic History, which we used at university! enjoy 🙂

  3. Noorjehaan Says:

    thanks will definitely emabark on this journey with ur landmarks 🙂


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