Wednesday, 29 July 2009


I found an interview with a good explication about Ramadan. I post here to explain to European people what is this month for the Muslims.

Last week local teenager Salam El-Merebi joined Suzanne Quintner and Kelly Higgins-Devine in the 612 ABC Brisbane studio to explain the Muslim holy month of fasting and spiritual cleansing.

Ramadan is an Arabic word that comes from the root word 'Ar-Ramad' which means dryness or heat and is the fourth pillar of Islam. The month of fasting, in the ninth month of the Hijri (lunar) calendar, begins with the sighting of the new moon and ends with the waning crescent. Because the lunar calendar is 11 or 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan is 10 to 11 days earlier each year.

The main physical implication of Ramadan is fasting, which means no eating or drinking from dawn until sunset. Depending on your region and the season, this could be anywhere from 12 to 17 hours each day. The object of fasting is to attain taqwa- a consciousness of God and self discipline.

But there is more to Ramadan than not eating. "It doesn't only [apply] on water and drinks, it [applies] on thoughts as well. So you're not supposed to think bad of others, you're not supposed to speak behind each others' backs. You have to treat everyone good and equally and nicely. All these things that a religion already asks but in Ramadan it is a must, you know, no matter what. You're not supposed to swear, all of that. It's like purifying your soul as well, and mind," Salam explains.

Children are excluded from fasting until they reach puberty, but may participate if they want to. All practising adult Muslims are expected to participate in Ramadan but Salam says there are some exceptions. "There's a lot of circumstances. A pregnant woman, she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to. Anyone who cannot do it for a reason like being mentally or physically unable, then they don't have to do it. For a female who's going through her monthly period, she doesn't have to do it as well, just for the seven or eight days that she has the period." People travelling long distances and women who are breast-feeding are also excluded.

Fasting is said to help Muslim's understand the hardship of being poor and hungry. "You would say 'I have no idea how people can survive with no food'. There's a lot of villages that don't have water as well, that's one of the reasons why we don't have water, to understand. At the end of the day we'll know that we'll have that food and that cup of water sitting there waiting for us, but they know that they are not going to have it. So it's actually also a feeling [of being] poor."

Despite Kelly's concerns about the difficulty of not eating all day, Salam claims it is not particularly hard and that the body does get used to it.

Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, a day of celebration and gratitude which Salam likens to Christmas in some ways.

Salam El-Merebi was a finalist for the Community Services Award in the Queensland Young Achiever Award.

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