Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Twenty-Five

Ibn Warraq's Ramadan musings continue...

The 27th Day of Ramadan is only a couple of days away, but already the clothing souqs are doing a booming business outfitting young girls for whom Sabawachrine is an important Ramadan date. As I mentioned back on Day SixteenSabawachrine is the day the young girls get dressed up, put on makeup, adjust their tiara, grab their clutch purse and take to the main streets to promenade.

It is also an occasion for henna. At the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with gifts, family gatherings,  new outfits and henna! Women make a trip to the hammam, then find their favourite henna artist. Those who can afford it will decorate their hands, arms, legs and feet with tattoos in henna. In addition, Muslim women traditionally remove all their body hair and then henna their bikini area to soothe the itching!

Henna is a dye derived from a flowering tree called Lawsonia inermis that has been used since antiquity to colour skin, hair, fingernails, and fabrics. Henna tattoos last about a month, leaving behind a delicate perfume. They come in a slew of intricate, ornate designs, all of which symbolically celebrate weddings, holidays, and other important life transitions. The henna-producing leaves and bark are harvested between May and July, which often directly precede Ramadan, then macerated to produce a yellowish powder that becomes the basis for the dye.

As the end of Ramadan approaches, henna tattoo artists set up shop all over the streets, squares and alleys, ready to ply their craft as women gear up to celebrate the breaking of the month-long fast.

Henna is also thought to bring good fortune in life as in love: during lengthy engagement ceremonies, the mother of the groom makes her future daughter-in-law a symbolic gift, placing a small pouch of henna in the palm of her hand.

A word of warning: avoid black henna as it can cause illness. 

In the 1990s, henna artists in Africa, India, the Arabian Peninsula and the West began to experiment with para-phenylenediamine (PPD) based black .hair dye, applying it as a thick paste as they would apply henna, in an effort to find something that would quickly make jet black temporary body art. PPD can cause severe allergic reactions, with blistering, intense itching, permanent scarring, and permanent chemical sensitivities. Henna boosted with PPD can cause lifelong health damage.

Book your henna artist now, as they will be very busy over the next few days.

Henna photography

For those interested in photography there is a special Henna Ceremony being offered by the ALC-ALIF Photography Club under the guidance of Omar Chennafi. It will be an opportunity to photograph neighbourhood children and their families. The club will also we will provide free prints for the children to remember this special day.

Lipstick, toothpaste and kissing

One of our regular Diary readers, Alina from the Ukraine, wrote and asked "What things make your fast not good? Lipstick?" Meaning, I guess, what would break your fast. We will get to lipstick in a moment.

Okay. Not that I am an expert of religious edicts, but it is generally understood that during the hours of fasting nothing should enter your body and make its way to your stomach. Of course eating and drinking and sex are out. So too are injections of vitamins. Chewing gum or smoking definitely break the fast.

In some areas there is general agreement on fast-breaking issues, but in others, the main schools differ. There are four prominent schools within Sunni practice and two within Shi'a practice. The main Sunni schools are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali. The main school in Morocco is the Maliki.

One thing they all agree on is the tricky issue of taking a shower or going for a swim. The actual showering or swimming are not the problem, but taking in water through the mouth or nose is considered to be fast-breaking by the four main Islamic schools.

Another slightly more tricky area is "accidental eating or drinking".  For example, if you are cooking and out of reflex taste the food to see if there is enough salt. When a person is forgetful, it means they unintentionally ate or drank, this doesn’t break their fast. Their fast is still valid. In the Qur'an, it says: ‘And there is no sin on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful’ [Al-Ahzaab 33:5]'.

When brushing the teeth and gargling, swallowing can be a problem if toothpaste reaches the throat. Most Muslims use miswak to clean their teeth and get rid of bad breath. The miswak is a teeth cleaning twig made from the Salvadora persica tree (known as arak in Arabic). A traditional and natural alternative to the modern toothbrush, it has a long, well-documented history and is reputed for its medicinal benefits.

One form of giving that is promoted during Ramadan is giving blood. There is some debate on this between various Muslim scholars, but the majority agree that it doesn’t. The Hanabli school of thought believes it does.

Ear and eye drops cause all sorts of disagreement Water or ear drops entering the ears are most likely to break the fast because some scholars say they can reach the stomach. Nose sprays can also break the fast if they reach the abdomen, so people should take precautions. As for eye drops, scholars differ on this. Some scholars may disagree about the nose spray just as some disagree that a sorbitrate, a pill placed under the tongue for patients suffering from heart problems, can break the fast.

Insulin injections for diabetic people are not an issue.  People are advised to take doses to bring their blood sugar to the normal range. Taking too much can make the person hungry and may lead to breaking a fast.

Dr. Mashael, from Dubai, is an expert in the area and says that there are two types of illnesses that determine whether a person should fast or not.

“If a person suffers from any type of illness that requires immediate medication, then that person is excused from fasting and must make it up. Fasting in this case can deteriorate their health and delay their recovery, this is why it is acceptable to not fast. However, a person suffering from a headache or any other illness that is tolerable can delay consuming their medication until Isha, Maghrib, or suhour. If the pain becomes intolerable, they do not have to fast.”

Applying lipstick, nail polish and perfumes for women is frowned on by most scholars because  in most cases they contain fruit or other flavours and these can reach the woman’s taste buds and throat when the tongue touches the lip. As for nail polish, it doesn’t break the fast but it must be removed before ablution because it does not allow water to touch the nails and the ablution then would not be deemed valid.

Back to Dr Mashael, who gives a warning about incense. "All kinds of frankincense, if intentionally inhaled, will reach the abdomen because of the incense smoke and break one’s fast. “Other perfumes do not break a fast, but applying them is disliked during fasting hours.”

Finally, to Khaleeq Ahmad Mufti, an Islamic scholar, who explains the problem with hugging and kissing is that it can trigger sexual behaviour.  “If a person ruins their fast [due to sexual behaviour], they must do Kaffara, which means they either have to feed 60 people or fast continuously for 60 days,” said Mufti.  You have been warned!

A Ramadan romance (Warning the following story may contain hugging and kissing)

Over the past three days Morocco World News has had almost exclusive coverage of what is described as "a very famous bilateral love story that brought two diplomatic missions on the same side".

Rebecca and Simo

It is a story that has all the ingredients of a teen love drama! Young girl, young man, flight to a foreign country, a search for the missing teenagers and then transatlantic diplomats stepping in and pulling them apart. You can just smell the popcorn and imagine the bidding by Hollywood moguls for the story.

The teenager, Rebecca Arthur, flew from JFK in New York on Monday July 6th, aboard the wings of juvenile romance! Rebecca’s journey to Casablanca announced the beginning of her one-thousand-and-one mile search for her virtual ‘pen-pal’, whom she met on Facebook.

It took Rebecca a few months to foster unquestionable trust in Mohamed Adalla, (Simo) and to build a solid relationship with her Facebook friend. That trust, we have learnt recently, was endorsed by Rebecca’s mother and evidenced by her written approval.

Conspiracy and envy were the main antagonists in Simo and Rebecca’s love story. Media outlets reported that it was Rebecca’s girlfriend who first spread the rumour of her kidnapping out of revenge and envy.

Clinton’s police, in the State of Connecticut started the search for the alleged missing girl on Thursday. With the help of the American Consulate in Casablanca, the intercontinental search led them to Essaouira where they found Rebecca safe and happy at her Moroccan host’s family home.

Other social media and news outlets ran with the story. According to Hespress, “the US embassy in Rabat and Casablanca will release a press communique on the subject. US officials are reassured that Rebecca is in safe hands” they reported.

Rebecca reacts to the news that they must part

The US officials received El Adala’s family in US consulate in Casablanca, and informed them them that Rebecca will turn 18 in five months, and she will have then the right to travel on her own. The officials also promised Mohamed El Adala to facilitate his travel to US in case he wants to join his girlfriend after she reaches the age of majority.

The young couple shared some of their photos on social media while enjoying their time together.

In a video posted on YouTube, the couple told their love story and how their romance made headlines in international media.

To bring a rapid and immediate closure to their story, the American consulate in Morocco persuaded Simo to convince Rebecca to return back to Connecticut by promising to facilitate their re-union in the spring of 2016.

As you read this, Rebecca should have arrived at JFK airport, having had her 15 minutes of fame. Her love story with Simo seems to be laying down the foundations of a new era in the global village where stories of ‘transcontinental missiles’ will be exchanged for ‘transcontinental love’. (SIGH)

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

Karim was a man who had worked all of his life, had saved all of his money, and was a real miser when it came to his money. Just before he died, he said to his only surviving son, Hicham, "When I die, I want you to take all my money and put it in the grave with me. I want to take my money to the afterlife with me."

And so he got his son to promise him with all of his heart that when he died, he would put all of the money in the grave with him. Two weeks later he was dead. Everyone gathered at the graveside where he lay, with a tearful Hicham  standing over him.

Just before the family members got ready to close the grave, Hicham said, "Wait just a minute!" Then he took a small box and put it in the grave by his father's side. Then the grave was filled.

His friend Driss said, "Please tell me you weren't fool enough to put all that money in there with your father."

But Hicham, a loyal son ,replied "Listen, I'm trustworthy; I can't go back on my word. I promised him that I was going to put that money in that casket with him."

"You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him!?"

"I sure did" said Hicham. "I got it all together, put it into my account and wrote him a cheque. If he can cash it, he can spend it."

Saha F'tourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy

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!

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