Friday, July 03, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Sixteen

Ibn Warraq's increasingly erratic Ramadan musings...

It is amazing how quickly after reaching the halfway mark of Ramadan people's minds turn to Laylat al-Qadr, Leilat Sabawachrine and then Eid. The annual refrain (from young children) has already started. "I need new clothes, I need a tiara, I need henna...". Make no mistake, children are wonderful, but during the second half of Ramadan they become rather expensive!

The tiara and clutch purse are "essential"

Laylat Al Qadr is considered the holiest night of the year for Muslims, and is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan. It is known as the "Night of Power," and commemorates the night that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with the exhortation, "Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists)," - Surat Al-Alaq.

The Prophet Muhammad did not mention exactly when the "Night of Power" would be, although most scholars believe it falls on one of the odd-numbered nights of the final ten days of Ramadan, such as the 19th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, or 27th days of Ramadan. In Morocco it is most widely believed to fall on the 27th day of Ramadan.

On this night, the blessings and mercy of Allah are abundant, sins are forgiven, supplications are accepted, and that the annual decree of what will occur is revealed to the angels who also descend to earth.

Many Muslims observe this occasion with study, devotional readings, and prayer. Some Muslims participate in a spiritual retreat called itikaf, where they spend all ten days in the mosque reading the Quran and praying, but according to a local Imam, the number of people doing this has declined over the years.

Then there is the Leilat Sabawachrine - literally the "night of the 27th"  - is a night especially for children - a time when they dress in their finest clothes.

... and boys get to dress up as well

For girls this also means having their hands and feet covered in beautiful henna designs and wearing makeup and jewellery. Once dressed, they take to the streets where many of them were happy to receive gifts of sweets or money. Of course, most children will tell you, that to take part they need new clothes!

It is only the 16th day, but already the tiaras are on sale, ready for the 27th

Meanwhile, out in the country...

There is a saying, "Come to Morocco and prepare to be astonished. There is another saying "In Morocco everything is possible."

For proof of both sayings look no further than the astonishing photograph of a grand taxi proving that carrying ten passengers is uncomfortable, but possible - especially if you are desperate to get home for Ftour!

Nikah or nothing!

In light of all the discussion going on about moral and sexual issues, it is interesting to learn that Britain is having a surge in secret nikah (Islamic marriage) and, according to a leading British family lawyer, many of them are polygamous. According to a report in The Times, young Muslims, as many as 100,000 couples, are shunning legally binding unions. And, for young unmarried girls it is "nikah, or nothing"!

One of the reasons for this rise in Sharia marriages is that it is a way around the prohibition on sex before marriage and that there is no splitting of assets if they divorce. The nikah are not valid under UK law and by bypassing the registry office procedures many women are left without assets if the relationship ends.

More good deeds in Ramadan

Back in June,  a young schizophrenic who happened to be a Muslim, vandalised a church in Toronto. He tore the pages from a Bible,  broke the altar and overturned the cross.

Imam Hamid Slimi

Imam Hamid Slimi called it "a very bad scene." and decided to do something about it.  The Moroccan-born imam collected 5,000 Canadian dollars  and went to visit the priest in charge of the premises who showed him pictures of the incident.

"When I saw the damage, I thought it was sheer injustice. It was just wrong, "said the imam who is also president of the Canadian Centre for Religious Studies at the Sayeda Khadija Centre.

The priest announced the news of the 5,000 dollar donation to the faithful at the Mass last Sunday, urging them to "pray for the one who committed this act,  and to forgive and forget."

For Hamid Slimi it was simple, "there is no discrimination in charity. It is the act that is rewarded regardless of the one who receives."

What you post on Facebook may come back to haunt you.

An interesting side issue that has emerged during the ongoing discussion about the assault on a transgender person in Fez is that while around the world there has been a general revulsion at the attack, others, mainly young people in Morocco, have used it as an excuse to post homophobic messages. This use of social media to spread hate has a downside for the ignorant. Posting hate speech at any time is wrong. and doubly so during Ramadan - a time of reflection and tolerance. Poison speech poisons the speaker.

Discussing this over coffee after Ftour, a local business man said that he had changed his mind about offering a young woman a position as a manager in his Riad Hotel, after he saw her "anti-gay" vitriol on Facebook. "How could I have her work for me, knowing she was so homophobic?" It was, as a Buddhist friend would have said, "instant karma".

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane 

In light of the case of the Inezgane girls and the anti-gay behaviour, the state wants to put the record straight. A joint statement from the Department of Justice and the Interior Ministry was direct, " any act or action to substitute for justice or law enforcement is totally illegal."

And the sentiment is being expressed all the way to the top of the government, with the Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, condemning the attackers in Fez, saying that "no one has the right to sit as a judge and a substitute for justice". He went on to say that "The state will be uncompromising in treating such cases and does not allow this kind of behaviour."

Support has also been expressed by Moroccan-born imam Hassan Iquioussen, who went on the record in France, saying that "a Muslim is not invested with a mission to spy and snoop into people's privacy".

At the same time the police have continued with their arrests, not only over the disgraceful mob attack in Fez, but also with the crowd who harassed two young women in Inezgane for wearing dresses.

After all of this, it would be a relief to be back in the "good old days" when after Iftar discussion was about the deplorable state of television.
Which reminds me! Please feel free to contribute your Ramadan stories, thoughts, observations and photographs. You can contact me via The View from Fez contact page. Just put "Ibn's Diary" in the subject line - Shukran! 

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

The View from Fez's Foreign Corespondent is a woman with a long and abiding interest in gender roles amongst Sunni Muslims particularly in Afghanistan.

Back in the 1990s long before the current Afghan hostility she spotted that women walked about four paces behind their husbands.

When our Foreign Corespondent returned to Kabul a couple of weeks ago she noted, with regret, that women still walked behind their husbands.

She pondered why, despite the establishment of women's rights, wives still paced behind their husbands. So she fell into conversation with one of the Afghani women and asked, 'Why are you so happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?'

The woman looked our Foreign Corespondent straight in the eye and without hesitation said, "Land mines."

Our Foreign Corespondent filed this report : Behind every Afghan man, there's a very smart woman!

Saha Ftourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy
DAY ONE          DAY FIVE             DAY NINE            DAY THIRTEEN
DAY TWO         DAY SIX                 DAY TEN              DAY FOURTEEN

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