Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Eight

Ibn Warraq continues his Ramadan musings...

Build it and they will come

The original quote from the film Field of Dreams says "he will come", but hopefully I can be forgiven, as it was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the number of people arriving to pray at the beautiful Hassan II Mosque.

In the past there was a lot of controversy about the cost of building the Hassan II Mosque in Dar el-Biḍa (Casablanca). Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau, construction of the Hassan II Mosque began in July 1986 on land reclaimed, (without compensation to the former residents), from a run-down area near the sea. The goal for completion of the mosque was King Hassan II's 60th birthday in 1989, but it was not finished until August 30, 1993.

The project is estimated to have cost as much as $800 million, funds that were, remarkably, raised entirely from public subscription. International reports have suggested both local resentment and less-than-voluntary donations to the project, but Moroccans are genuinely proud of the monument. The massive fundraising also had a positive side-effect: it reduced inflation.

At 210 metres, the Great Mosque's minaret is the highest structure in Morocco and the tallest minaret in the world. Mind you, I am sure Dubai, home of "mine is bigger than yours", has something planned.

Earlier this week more than half a million worshippers thronged to the mosque to attend Isha (evening) and Taraweeh (post-Isha) prayers led by Imam Omar Al Kazabri.

Giving during Ramadan
“The best charity is that given in Ramadan.” [At-Tirmithi]
One of the pillars of Islam is zakat, the requirement that a Muslim must give 2.5 percent of his or her annual income to charity. The 29 or 30 days of Ramadan is the time many people chose to make their zakat payments.

You don’t pay zakat for a tax deduction, but because it is a part of your identity. The result is that Muslims are very charitably generous. In a survey of UK charitable givers, Muslim donors averaged almost £371 in donations, Jewish donors £270, Roman Catholics around £178, and Protestants just £20.

On the West Bank, a number of charities are providing free Ramadan meals to hungry Palestinians. With the distress and disruption in Syria, Islamic charities are making a special effort to provide food assistance to residents of Aleppo. In many Muslim communities, it is traditional for families to provide extra food for poor families.

However, over and above that 2.5% obligation is Sadaqah. Sadaqah is voluntary giving.

Which brings me to the situation in Yemen. The news today that 21 million people are on the brink of famine grabbed the headlines. What was lacking was a co-ordinated response to deal with the problem.

The internal situation and the blockade of Yemen's ports makes delivering aid almost impossible. The International Red Cross have negotiated the landing of around one thousand tonnes of food and medicine from a single ship. But that is not enough for the people in Aden, let alone the rest of the country - even if they could guarantee delivery.

Discussing this last night some friends, while agreeing that it was a dreadful situation, pointed out that Syria, Iraq and Libya are also disaster zones. "The problems have just grown too big," Hamid said. "Relief efforts need truces before you can do anything."

I had a thought. "What if," I began hesitantly, "we could deliver aid in another way?"

I have a well earned reputation for dreaming up weird schemes and the looks on the faces around me showed that that was exactly what my friends expected. They were not disappointed.

Ibn Warraq's Weird Scheme

Imagine if the military use of drones was suspended for the rest of Ramadan and instead of surveillance and assassination, the drones were used to deliver aid. Flying Sadaqah.

There are thousands of the small drones around the world and they could be put to good use. And not just the military drones. It would be great public relations for Amazon and the other retailers who are investing in drone technology to have their drones flying food and medicine into Yemen.

... in a better world

For those who think the drones are too small to make a difference, consider the K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopters that were used by the American Marines to move some seriously heavy freight in southern Afghanistan. The K-MAX cargo copters are reported to have flown more than 1,300 missions. The 2.5-ton chopper can carry more than 3,000 kilos of cargo and fly 400 kilometres at a stretch. Now that would be a great way to deliver sadaqah. DWBs - Drones Without Borders.

The unmanned K- MAX can carry loads of more than 3,000 kilos

During Ramadan, let's get all those drones doing something beautiful. We have the intelligence, we know where there are hungry people. Let's have Ramadan DWBs delivering food and medicine to conflict areas.

Beating the bikini ban

If ever there was any doubt about the claim that Morocco is a liberal and tolerant society, then events in Agadir are proof positive. A few days ago I noted that a group of young male surfers had called for the Agadir beaches to be bikini free zones.

Happily Moroccans did not agree and now Moroccan authorities in the city have taken down the poster.

The controversial poster sparked debate on social media. A story published by Morocco World News went viral within hours. It was shared by nearly 50,000 people on Facebook, and elicited nearly 600 comments from all over the world.

The overwhelming majority of commentators, both Moroccans and foreigners, expressed their outrage at the surfers and called on the authorities to crack down on them.

According to informed sources from the Ministry of Tourism, the attempt to ban the bikini had nothing to do with a political movement or organised religious group - it was simply a couple of puritan surfers.
“We cannot allow people on their own to begin to dictate their law. Nobody has the right to set themselves up as guarantors of virtue, and still less to tell tourists how they should dress on a beach,” Moroccan Minister of Tourism Lahcen Haddad
Moroccan authorities sent a reassuring message to calm public opinion worldwide, stressing that there is no restriction on swimming outfits on any Moroccan beach: good news for tourists and locals as well as the hundreds of shops throughout the country who are doing a brisk trade selling bikinis to Moroccan women.

However, spare a thought for the women of Malaysia

The Pahang Islamic Religious Department (Jaip) in Malaysia has issued a directive to Muslim women in the state to dress modestly during the holy month of Ramadan.

Head of the investigation, Mohd Anis Azmi, found that during regular checks at several Ramadan bazaars, Muslim women were not dressed modestly since their clothes were deemed to be “too short or tight”.

Anis conceded that while Jaip cannot tell women how to dress, the women themselves should at least be properly attired when out shopping at the bazaar Ramadan.

“They should refrain from wearing revealing dresses in respect of the holy month,” said Anis
Those who fail to comply with the guideline will face a years’ jail or a fine of up to RM2,000.

The Road Transport Department, the Selangor state secretariat, and even the Sungai Buloh public hospital recently sparked public outrage after the public institutions forced several women to wear a sarong, or even a towel, over outfits that were considered indecent. Observers noted that such dress code rows showed a trend of increasing religious conservatism in Malaysia.

Thank you Madonna

Ramadan Diary would like to thank Christian Martinus for his observation the other day in an Aswak Salam supermarket at 3:30 pm. "Bustling with people of all ages busy shopping for their Ramadan meals. As per the rest of the year, all the lady cashiers are veiled conveying that image that the chain holds so dear. On the speakers, full volume: Madonna's 'Papa don't preach'..."

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

There have been a lot of Finns visiting Fez this last few months. One of them, totally lost, was standing just inside the Bab Boujloud.

When he saw Rachid and Chakeb he stopped them and asked, "Anteeksi, puhut suomea?"

Rachid and Chakeb looked at each other, their faces blank.

The Finn switched languages and tried again"Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?"

Rachid and Chakeb stared at him and shrugged

"Excusez-moi, parlez vous Français ?"

The two continued to stare and gestured to the Finn, encouraging him to try again.

"Parlare Italiano?"

Still absolutely no response from Rachid and Chakeb.

"Hablan ustedes Espanol?" Rachid and Chakeb remain totally silent.

The Finn walked off extremely disappointed and downhearted that he had not been understood.

Chakeb turned to Rachid. "You know, maybe we should learn a foreign language!"

"Why?" asked Rachid, "That man knew five languages, and it didn't do him any good!"

Saha Ftourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy

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siobhan said...

Drones without borders..... Brilliant idea! O always thought soldiers would be good at re-afforestation projects in the desert etc. Great training turned in a positive direction.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, great idea: drones bringing humanitarian aid but why not try a ceasefire during Ramadan together with the promise to sit down and talk as human beings and find a peaceful solution in the name of Islam.