Friday, July 17, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~2015 ~ Day Thirty

Ibn Warraq's final reflections on Ramadan...

Ramadan 2015 in Morocco will be remembered for being hot - very hot! There was happiness and controversy, religious reflection and mediocre television. It was also a Ramadan that saw an increase in commercialisation, with luxury f'tour packages at resorts and hotels. It was hard not to think of times that the holy month was becoming a product to be exploited. Yet, amidst it all of there were the wonderful moments of sharing a simple  f'tour with good friends.

A simple f'tour is the best f'tour

On the other side of Ramadan there was a profound sadness at the sectarian violence and death in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Nigeria. Displaced people continued to risk their lives heading to Europe. It was not a happy Ramadan for hundreds of thousands.

It was a sobering exercise to contemplate the images from those areas of conflict and to pray that the suffering ends soon.

A last minute blessing - an hour before the official end of Ramadan a huge electrical storm hit Fez and the rain bucketed down, washing everything clean and cooling the temperature down almost six degrees.

The Fez Medina glowing golden at the end of Ramadan

The sunset turned the Fez Medina to gold. Then, the cannon. Not one, but three shots. It was indeed a great end to Ramadan.

Fez at the moment of the cannon firing for the end of Ramadan 2015

My good friend Fatima Matousse has also been reflecting on Ramadan and...

The Sad Side of El Eid

Everything has a beginning and an end and Ramadan likewise. Morocco is the only country where Ramadan does not end in the same way as our neighbours in North Africa and the Middle East because Morocco has its own standards for declaring the climax of Ramadan. Since the country made the rules so strict, the beautiful moon refuses to shine in the throne of the dark sky. So, Moroccans have to fast for another day, making their fast total 30 days.

Some people are frustrated that we are not celebrating El Eid along with the other countries. Others state their satisfaction that the last day is a Friday, a holy day, and people are happy to delve into spirituality as they end this year’s Ramadan chapter.

My frustration does not really have to do with whether we are breaking the fast with the rest of the countries or not. My concern lies in how every human being in this country spends their end of Ramadan celebration.

El Eid is like a wedding ceremony for one category of people and a funeral for others. The wedding part of it involves food preparation, shopping, and lots of "getting-beautiful" tasks, especially for women.

At night, prior to El Eid, life gets busier inside and outside homes as some parents catch up on last minute shopping, if they still haven't bought new clothes for their kids and themselves. Normally everyone has to wear new beautiful clothes, eat the best cookies ever for breakfast and prepare a fancy lunch, especially if family members are invited.

The funeral side of it has to do with poor families, homeless children, single mothers, lonely people and the list goes on. Not everyone is happy during El Eid. Poor families struggle to buy new clothes for their kids. The homeless are still sleeping on floors under plastic or cardboard beds covering with plastic bags or torn dirty fabrics. For them, El Eid is not a climax. It means nothing to them. It is just another miserable day in their lives.

I see El Eid also as a moment exposing the gaps between social classes and hierarchies. The poor people feel their vulnerable position in the society. For such people, it is a moment of a deeper sadness and vulnerability, more than a prosperous one.

You might think, I am so pessimistic and you might throw various arguments about almsgiving and organisation attempting to help these groups standing in the periphery of our society. I would agree with you, but I am speaking about the remaining ones, the mentally ill, the little children in the shelters, the elderly with Alzheimers, the sick people in hospitals and so on. El Eid is not always a happy moment for everyone, nor is Ramadan, nor is any other so-called "happy" event in life.

I wish that El Eid brings happiness to the hearts of us all, with no exclusion. I wish that people stop being aggressive during Ramadan. I wish not to to witness another incident of a woman harassed because of her clothes, or a gay being beaten and not even a thief aggressively physically assaulted. I wish that people stop turning into priests all of a sudden and throwing judgments in your face. I wish not to see more homeless people in the streets.

I wish every human being’s daily mission be to make others happy, secure and equal. I wish...I wish...I wish list does not have an end.  You can share your wishes with us too if you wish...and Happy Eid to Everyone!

At last! The final of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

It was Eid and when Hamza came home from spending hours in his favourite café, he found his five children outside, still in their pyjamas, playing in the dirt, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn around garden.

The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and no sign of the cat.

Walking in the door, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over; the throw rug was against one wall; in the front room the TV was on loudly with the cartoon channel; and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, cat food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

Hamza quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor.

Metres of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

He rushed to the bedroom, and found his wife, Karima, still curled up in the bed in her pyjamas, reading a novel.

She looked up at him, smiled. 'Eid mubarak! How was your day?'

But Hamza was too stunned to answer. He looked at Karima, bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?'

Karima smiled, 'You know every day when you come home you ask me what in the world do I do all day?'

'Yes,' was Hamza's incredulous reply.

Karima smiled yet again.  'Well, today I didn't do it.'

Saha F'tourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy

Thanks to those who contributed Ramadan stories, thoughts, observations and photographs. Thanks to Hamid for his jokes.  Now, I am off to take a break, inshallah. You can contact me via The View from Fez contact page. Just put "Ibn's Diary" in the subject line - Shukran wa Eid Mubarak!

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