Category: Fasting Month of Ramadan


May 29, 2017

A group of Palestinian volunteers have launched their annual campaign to offer dates and water to drivers and their passengers across the occupied West Bank throughout the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Dubbed “Dates and Water”, the campaign has been launched for the third year and caters for travelers who are on the road at Iftar time, sunset.

Mahmoud Abdulmoneim, one of the volunteers responsible for the campaign, told Quds Press that the idea behind the campaign was initiated by a group of youths in the town of Sebastia, near occupied Nablus.

The youths wanted to encourage volunteering in the West Bank, Abdulmoneim said, adding that the location was chosen because it is a central area through which hundreds of Palestinians pass.

The process of distributing dates and water starts shortly before the call for Maghreb prayers, which comes at sunset, Abdulmoneim added.

Around 15 volunteers participate in the campaign, aiming to offer dates and water to around 300 travelers.

A number of local Palestinian companies and donors provide the dates to the volunteers for free.

The campaign was well-received, with some drivers coming out of their cars to help the volunteers distribute their Iftar packs, Quds Press cited Abdulmoneim saying.

The campaign inspired youth to come up with more initiatives, such as volunteering to clean and decorate Sebastia to mark the month of Ramadan.

Abdulmoneim called for utilizing the month of Ramadan to maximize volunteering activities among Palestinians and reinforce the sentiments of support and solidarity in light of the difficult living conditions that Palestinians endure under occupation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170529-marking-ramadan-palestinian-volunteers-launch-campaign-to-enable-travellers-to-break-their-fast-on-the-road/.

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June 18, 2015

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Muslims around the world will mark the start of Ramadan on Thursday, a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology that can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart. However, this year religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia and most other parts of the world announced based on their sightings of the moon that daily fasting would begin Thursday.

Authorities in Pakistan have yet to announce the sighting of the moon. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. A single sip of water or a puff of a cigarette is considered enough to invalidate the fast.

The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. Muslims often give to charities during the month, and mosques and aid organizations organize free meals for the public every night.

Fasting also is seen as a way to physically and spiritually detoxify through exercising self-restraint. Sexual intercourse between spouses also is off-limits during the day, while Muslims also are encouraged to be mindful of their behavior and to avoid gossiping, cursing and quarreling.

This year, Ramadan falls during the summer, which means long and hot days of fasting. Mainstream scholars advise Muslims in northern European countries with 16 hours or more of daylight to follow the cycle of fasting of the nearest Muslim majority nation to them to avoid impossibly long hours without food or water.

Chairwoman Pia Jardi at the Finnish Muslim Union in Helsinki said Muslims there will be fasting for 21 hours and have just three hours — or even less — for eating, drinking and prayer before the sun rises again.

“The good thing is that you’ll eat with moderation and that you’ll stick very much into the true, simple spirit of Ramadan,” Jardi said. “Long fasting time means you rarely want to eat heavily.” In a statement, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle extended their “warmest greetings to all those observing the month of fasting in the United States and around the world.”

The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims traditionally break their fast like the Prophet Muhammad did around 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset. Then family and friends gather for a large feast. Part of the evening is often spent at the mosque in prayers called “taraweeh.”

Children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant or menstruating and people traveling are not obligated to fast. Non-Muslims or adult Muslims not observing the fast who eat in public during the day in Ramadan can be fined or even jailed in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, home to large Western expatriate populations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr.

Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Jari Tanner in Helsinki, Finland, contributed to this report.

Al Arabiya News

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region working as civil servants, students and teachers have been banned from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday.

The move has sparked condemnation from an exile group.

Xinjiang is a mainly Muslim region, home to the Uighur minority. For years China’s ruling Communist party has restricted fasting in the region, which has seen sees regular and often deadly clashes between Uighurs and state security forces.

Beijing has blamed recent deadly attacks elsewhere in China on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region.

According to Agence France-Presse, the state-run Bozhou Radio and TV university said on its website that it would “enforce the ban on party members, teachers, and young people from taking part in Ramadan activities.”

“We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramadan fast,” it added.

A weather bureau in Qaraqash county in western Xinjiang said on its website that “in accordance with instructions from higher authorities”, it “calls on all current and retired staff not to fast during Ramadan”.

A state office which manages the Tarim River basin posted pictures of its staff wearing traditional Uighur “doppa” caps tucking into a group meal on Saturday.

“Although the meal coincided with the Muslim festival of Ramadan, the cadres who took part expressed a positive attitude and will lead the non-fasting,” it said.

Meanwhile, the commercial affairs bureau of Turfan city said on its website Monday that “civil servants and students cannot take part in fasting and other religious activities.”

China has in the past said that restrictions on fasting are meant to ensure the health of government employees, according to AFP.

Home inspections

The month of Ramadan began this weekend. During the holy month, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious.

On Monday, Chinese authorities reportedly encouraged Uighurs to eat free meals on Monday, and inspected homes to check if the fast was being observed, Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, told AFP citing local sources.

“China taking these kind of coercive measures, restricting the faith of Uighurs, will create more conflict,” he said.

“We call on China to ensure religious freedom for Uighurs and stop political repression of Ramadan.”

Source: al-Arabiya.

Link: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2014/07/02/China-bans-Ramadan-fast-in-mainly-Muslim-Xinjiang.html.

By Bakari Gueye in Nouakchott for Magharebia

17/07/2014

At the mid-point of Ramadan, Mauritanians are heeding advice to advocate moderate discourse.

“Our genuine Islamic values require us to display solidarity and brotherhood at all times, and especially during this blessed month of transcendence and kindness among Muslims, despite all hardships,” President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on June 28th.

He urged worshipers to stay “within the framework of our holy religion, far removed from any extremism, which spurs some people to commit destructive acts when they believe they are doing good and to make mistakes when they think they are right”.

The faithful have been reading the Quran and holding meetings to spread the good word.

Young people are mainly active at night, when they play ball and card games, and meet at cafés and other venues.

The authorities have taken all steps necessary to ensure that markets are stocked with basic necessities and other goods. They are also making sure the holy month is celebrated in an atmosphere of security.

Nouakchott was divided into three zones protected by the National Guard, the gendarme and the police. An increasing number of officers from the General Group for Road Safety (GGSR) can also be seen on the streets of Nouakchott.

Media outlets, both state-run and private, changed their scheduling for the month. Most programs are about Ramadan. They feature scholars and doctors who explain the virtues and consequences of fasting.

“Ramadan is a holy month and in Mauritania, we give it all the importance it deserves,” said Cheikh Tourad Ould Sidi, a teacher at a mahdhara.

“It’s a month of joy when people celebrate God and his prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him,” he told Magharebia.

“In our country, religion pervades everything and we celebrate values such as love, brotherhood, solidarity and forgiveness,” Ould Sidi added. Ramadan is also good for Mauritanian merchants.

In preparation for the holy month, they stock up on all kinds of food and kitchen items.

“Customers have been flocking to buy dates. It’s an item that sells well, and we have dates to suit all tastes and budgets,” vendor Sidati Ould Ahmed said.

“This month is the most profitable time of the year for us. Demand is very high, as you can see,” Nouakchott trader Mohamed Lemine Ould Limam told Magharebia. “Thank God, business is brisk.”

Charitable NGOs are also stepping in to offer relief to the poor.

Mariem Mint El Mokhtar of the Women’s Association to Combat Poverty and Illiteracy said the group organized a project this year to “co-ordinate all of the good work that people do to help the most disadvantaged in society”.

“The goal is to strengthen the ties between the different segments of society,” she said.

Source: Magharebia.

Link: http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/features/2014/07/17/feature-04.

By Monia Ghanmi in Tunis and Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia

09/07/2014

Ramadan television dramas are drawing a large audience in Tunisia, a success that many attribute to the shows’ bold take on modern social ills.

The series “Naourat al Hawa” and “Maktoub” shed light on several social issues experienced by Tunisian society, including the exploitation of street children, trade in human organs, organized prostitution networks, torture in prisons, as well as the promotion and consumption of drugs and alcohol among young people.

For 50-year-old housewife Aicha Ben Sassia, the topics are taboo despite the fact they are at the heart of the Tunisian reality and affect different groups and social circles.

“We do not disagree with the directors of these productions,” she said. “All topics that are addressed are rampant in our society, especially with the increasing crime in the country. We remain hopeful that these series and what they reveal will help push to reduce these problems and address them.”

Her husband Ahmed Souri, a bric-a-brac dealer, said, “I think that the series this year expressed the hidden social reality of Tunisia or what Tunisia wants to hide.”

“We need such purposeful work to reveal our truths that we should not be ashamed to address in public. This leads us to think about how to find solutions to our issues,” he added.

For his part, Majdi Jaouadi, a 27-year-old-doctoral student, commented that what was portrayed in the Ramadan dramas was the essence of the truth.

“The scenes of corruption, moral decay and suffering that have been filmed in the slums and high-end places, are manifestations of present in Tunisian society,” he stated.

“I wish these issues would be taken seriously and that attention would be drawn to them before further tragedies are caused,” Jaouadi said.

Despite these dramas’ positive reception by the majority of Tunisians, some scenes aired by the series “Maktoub” from inside prisons, which depicted the living conditions of the detainees and ill-treatment by agents, were subjected to criticism by the prison’s union.

The series gave an inaccurate picture of what is happening in prison, according to Makrem Chahbani, the assistant secretary-general of the Union of Prisons and Reform. He said that the content had nothing to do with reality.

Moroccan Ramadan TV lambasted by viewers

Ramadan is also the high season for Moroccan television production. Although the public criticizes the mediocrity of the new programs aired by Moroccan channels every time, they are still excited to watch the home-made shows broadcast during the holy month.

“The artists who mess things up and present a mediocre series or soap to the public must revise their working methods,” remarked Hicham Salmi, a public sector worker. “Their careers are at stake. It’s a big disappointment for us. But we mustn’t generalize. The TV films that have been shown so far have been of good quality.”

However, Communications Minister Mustapha El Khalfi has given repeated assurances about the quality of national programs broadcast during the holy month. During his most recent speech before MPs on June 24th, he explained that the ministry was gradually introducing competition to encourage an improvement in quality.

When contacted by Magharebia, some Moroccans said they watched Arab channels and shunned local ones.

“Why should I keep on watching mediocre Moroccan programs when Arab television channels offer me a whole range of things? And then there are the football matches that are broadcast by international channels, which many people love,” said Karima Sikhi, an accountant.

Source: Magharebia.

Link: http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/features/2014/07/09/feature-03.

Cajsa Wikstrom

07 Jul 2014

Kiruna, Sweden – During this year’s holy month of Ramadan, when consumption of food and water is prohibited between dawn and dusk, how do Muslims observing the fast manage in the far north of Scandinavia, where the sun never sets?

An estimated 700 Muslims are spending Ramadan in the mining town of Kiruna, located 145km north of the Arctic Circle and surrounded by snowcapped mountains throughout the summer. Many of them are recent asylum seekers, sent to Kiruna while their claims are processed.

The sun stays up around the clock from May 28-July 16, which constitutes half of the fasting period this year.

“I started Ramadan by having suhoor with the sun shining in my eyes at 3:30 in the morning,” said Ghassan Alankar from Syria, referring to the meal just before dawn.

“I put double curtains in my room and still, there’s light when I’m going to sleep.”

Since there is no central authority in Sunni Islam that could issue a definite religious ruling, or fatwa, Muslims in the north are using at least four different timetables to break the fast.

Alankar sticks to Mecca time, Saudi Arabia, “because it’s the birthplace of Islam”. But he is worried about whether his fast will be accepted by God.

“I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing,” said Alankar, who arrived in Kiruna seven months ago after a hazardous journey via Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. “Only when I’m in God’s house, if I make it to heaven, I will know.”

No dusk, no dawn

The start of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the new moon, which  moves about 11 days back in the Gregorian calendar each year. About every 33 years, Ramadan falls at the same time.

A majority of those who fast in Kiruna follow the timings of the capital Stockholm, 1,240km further south, after being advised by the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a Dublin-based private foundation composed of Islamic clerics.

“In Stockholm, there’s day and night,” Hussein Halawa, secretary-general of the council, told Al Jazeera, explaining the decision. He was personally invited to northern Sweden from Dublin this year to experience the lengthy daylight and give advice.

Idris Abdulwhab, from Eritrea, follows the ECFR fatwa, which means his longest period of fasting will be 20 hours.

“Zero, 15, 25 or 45 hours, it doesn’t matter as long as you believe in what you’re doing,” he said. “But we’re human beings; of course it’s hard sometimes.”

One of those who has chosen to fast according to the local prayer times listed online is Fatima Kaniz. In a homely apartment overlooking mountains and mining facilities, she prepares a Pakistani fast-breaking dinner, or Iftar, for 8:30pm as the persistent sun penetrates the window blinds. Oil sizzles in a pan as she drops in pakoras, a vegetable snack made with chickpea flour.

She recalls her first day in Kiruna five years ago, in June.

“I waited for the sun to go down so I could pray maghreb,” she said, referring to the sunset prayer. “I waited until 3am, until my Chinese roommate at the asylum centre found me and explained it was pointless to wait. I thought, ‘What kind of strange place is this?'”

The fare of the day consists of the Pakistani Ramadan staples chapati and pakoras served with raita, with the addition of Swedish fish fingers and lentil stew.

During two-thirds of Ramadan, following the Kiruna prayer times means that Kaniz fasts for about 18 hours. But due to the sun’s movements, she will fast for a whole 23 hours during one of those days.

“I live in Kiruna, and I pray according to Kiruna time all year round. Why should I change this during Ramadan and suddenly follow Stockholm?” she asked.

She followed the same system during four previous Ramadans – the last one also at the height of summer.

“Sometimes I got tired and took the bus home from work instead of walking, but otherwise, I felt fine,” she said. “But I looked at the clock many times.”

The weather in Kiruna varies widely during the summer months. Within a day, 25 degrees Celsius and sunshine can turn into 10 degrees and pouring rain.

December Ramadan: Perpetual darkness

When Ramadan falls in December, however, Muslims will face the opposite of midnight sun: polar night. For two weeks, the sun does not rise above the horizon.

“Why don’t they come to me to ask about Ramadan then?” asks Halawa of the ECFR. He said a conference will be held later this year to issue a winter timetable for both fasting and prayers.

Muslim prayer times also follow the sun – which means that during winter, all five prayers can fall within a time span of two hours.

Abdulnasser Mohammed, of Somali origin, was new to Sweden and Kiruna the last time Ramadan fell under the Midwinter night, in 2000.

“There was no really established Islamic organization at the time, or information on the internet. I had to make up my own rules”, he said. “I fasted for about five hours.”

Mohammed, who is now the chairman of the Islamic association in Kiruna, follows the fasting times of Istanbul in the summer, since Turkey is the Muslim country closest to Sweden.

But he explains, in his view, everyone is free to choose.

“Islam isn’t rigorous,” he said. “Ramadan is not about starvation or about inflicting injury on yourself. People must choose what works for them.”

Apart from the Syrians, who have fled the war in their homeland, Eritreans form the largest Muslim community in Kiruna.

Hawa Fidel and Alia Hassen host a plentiful Iftar at Stockholm’s fast-breaking time, 10:10pm, in the apartment they share. They have prepared seating on the floor and filled trays with sponge-like injera flatbread, spicy beef stew, pastries, and other traditional Eritrean food.

The men chatting in the living room are already planning their next communal meal. They have set up a system to share the costs fairly, with participants paying different amounts depending on their incomes. Some have jobs. Others, whose applications for asylum have been rejected, get by on a monthly $200 grant provided by the government.

“Eating together with friends remind me of Eritrea,” said Fidel, who is still waiting for permanent residency after living in Kiruna for three years. But she misses going to a mosque for tarawih, the special prayers at night during which long portions of the Quran are recited.

The Muslim community in Kiruna is using a hall in an apartment block as a mosque, but so far it is only open for Friday prayers.

On the first Friday of Ramadan, as the rain trickled down, about 40 men and four women, including Fidel, gathered there at Stockholm’s dhuhr prayer time.

Safwaan al-Taieb, who used to do the call to prayer in his neighborhood mosque in Syria’s Deraa before he fled the country last year, recited a melodious adhan.

Al-Taieb’s sister came with him to Sweden, but because she fasts according to Mecca timings and he Stockholm, they do not eat together.

Besides the rest of the family, he said the social nature of Syrian society is what he misses the most – during Ramadan and the rest of the year.

“In Syria, you don’t eat only with your family. Everyone is welcome, we bring plates of food to our neighbors, we invite others. If you do that with Swedish people, they think you’re crazy.”

“Next Ramadan, God willing, I’ll be back in Syria.”

Source: al-Jazeera.

Link: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/07/ramadan-sweden-with-no-dusk-no-dawn-20147614423642407.html.

2013-06-30

Real Madrid will travel to Algeria for a friendly in July, Tout sur l’Algerie reported on Saturday (June 29th). Team assistant manager Zinedine Zidane will accompany the La Liga team. The friendly will be organised by Mobilis as part of festivities for the 50th anniversary of Algeria’s independence. The exact date and the venue will be announced soon. Real will face either the national or a League team.

The last time Real Madrid played a friendly in Algeria was on May 1st, 1982. The Greens won the game 2-1 thanks to goals by Rabah Madjer and Nacer Bouiche.

Source: Magharebia.com.

Link: http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/newsbriefs/sports/2013/06/30/newsbrief-04.

July 8, 2013

The military has halted its operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)—the armed wing of a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)—in time for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, officials said Monday.

In a text message to reporters, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the military “will keep the peace during Ramadan” but “will act accordingly should harassment continue to persist.”

Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, commander of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, meanwhile said that troops have already “called off” their operations against the BIFF since they were only allowed three days to conduct operations against the group.

“We have to abide by that kasi ayaw naman natin na ma-derail ‘yung peace process,” Gapuz said in a separate interview.

He, however, added that government troops are “prepared” to “react” if the BIFF launches attacks during Ramadan.

2 clashes

On Saturday, five soldiers were killed in two separate attacks launched by the BIFF in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman for the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the attacks may have been launched by the BIFF to derail the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF, which formally resumed on Monday.

Last October, the government and the MILF signed a landmark framework agreement that would pave the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro territory to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar earlier appealed to the BIFF to support the preliminary peace agreement with the government.

Not a holiday

Meanwhile, Malacañang reminded the public that July 9, the start of Ramadan, is not a non-working holiday.

The Twitter account of the Philippine government’s official gazette made this reminder on Monday morning in response to queries it has been receiving.

Based on Proclamation No. 495, which lists all holidays this year, the next non-working holiday will be on August 21, or on Ninoy Aquino Day.

The government gazette also noted President Benigno Aquino III will issue separate proclamations declaring two other Muslim religious holidays—Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha—as national holidays.

Source: GMA Network.

Link: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/316533/news/nation/military-halts-ops-vs-milf-breakaway-group-before-start-of-ramadan.

Wed, Jul 10, 2013

BEIRUT (AP) – Many devout Muslims in the Middle East have started observing the dawn-to-dusk fast for the month of Ramadan even as the region is rocked by Egypt’s turmoil and the relentless civil war in Syria.

For most Sunnis and Shiites, Ramadan started on Wednesday while others are expected to begin observing the holy month on Thursday – differences based on various sightings of the new moon.

Nowhere is the hardship for this Ramadan starker than in Syria, where the civil war is now in its third year. The U.N. says at least 93,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted.

Syria’s fragile currency has reached an all-time low while food and fuel prices are soaring. The U.N. says over 4 million Syrians risk going hungry because they can’t afford food.

Source: KoloTV.

Link: http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/Egypt-Ramadan-Begins-and-Military-Asks-for-Trust-214878791.html.

8 July 2013

In implementation of the directives of The President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the team overseeing implementation of the UAE’s project to help Pakistan, have announced an initiative to distribute 2,400 tons of food among 30,000 families in camps for people displaced by floods and military operations in Pakistan.

The move comes to mark the occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadan. According to a statement made by the project team, the food assistance, worth over 1.5 million US dollars, will be distributed among displaced families in Jalozai Camp, which is considered the largest refugee camp in Pakistan and includes about 13,600 displaced families.

The team also stated that the distribution of food aid comes in implementation of the directives of the President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to provide humanitarian and food aid for displaced Pakistanis to alleviate their suffering and difficult circumstances.

As part of the initiative, food parcels, each weighting 80 kilograms, will be distributed containing flour, rice, sugar, salt, lentils and tea, enough to sustain a single family for the whole month.

Source: Khaleej Times.

Link: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/community/2013/July/community_July17.xml&section=community.