Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Twenty-Four

Ibn Warraq's Ramadan musings...

At the tail end of Ramadan, mistakes will happen. Your brain goes on vacation, leaving your stomach confused. Last night, feeling satiated after a wonderful f'tour, I decided a short nap was in order. Having prepared everything for Suhoor (everything ready in microwave containers), I headed to bed.

Somehow I missed the first cannon. Somehow I missed the knocking and call of the dkak. The Ramadan App on my phone failed (again) and I awoke to hear the second cannon and the morning call to prayer.

Oops! Morning has broken...

My experience is not singular. A friend woke just after three one night and, too groggy to check the time properly, was convinced they had gone past the time when it was okay to eat. Thankfully, his brother rang. "You have fifteen minutes, b'saha!"

For my part, having missed out on an important meal, I hope I will be forgiven for being a little fixated on food.

McDonald's McIftar

One of our regular readers took time to write to the Ramadan Diary and ask has anyone tried a McIftar? Are you McKidding? Does anyone actually break their fast with McHappy Meal?  Sadly, the answer is yes.

First of all, lets go to Pakistan where, according to McDonalds (this is verbatim!)

When it comes to the blessed month of Ramadan, the bond of humanity is strengthened by the joys of sharing food, fun and happiness. Keeping up the very spirits alive, McDonald’s Pakistan planned a heart-warming iftar party for those we often forget to include in our plans.

With a tagline of “Let’s Celebrate the Spirit of Ramadan”, McDonald’s celebrated the spirit of giving via the ‘McDonald’s Share Box’ Ramadan video.  Spreading a message of goodness and doubling the blessings of Ramadan, the video opens up at The Place, a popular hangout spot in Defence, Karachi, where a multitude of workers such as valets, security guards, janitors are performing their duties in the heat.

But McDonald’s had a surprise for them!

From setting up tables and chairs, flowers and fairy lights to preparing a loving meal for the workers, the staff created an ambiance on par with any lavish restaurant in Karachi.Complete with the hashtag of #SpreadingGoodness, the video will leave you smiling for the sheer joy of seeing another deserving human being having a good time.

The McDonald’s Share Box is available for all via McDelivery.

The global fast-food behemoth advertised the combos on the McDonald’s Malaysia and McDonald’s Egypt sites. The McDonald’s Arabia site opens with a special greeting, wishing their patrons a “hearty Iftar and a wonderful Ramadan.”

The Malaysia branch has “buaka puasa” meals, which means “to open the fast,” and includes Samurai, beef, and chicken combos. Each one comes with at least two burgers, with the largest combo including four different sandwich options, or forty pieces of chicken McNuggets.

In Egypt, the Ramadan special includes deals on burgers, French fries, and desserts such as vanilla soft-serve sundaes.

If you happen to be in Germany, then here is a warning. "McChicken" the German-Turkish fast food restaurant in Gelsenkirchen may look as if its absolutely empty. You ask for a half chicken and the response will be "Sorry, all meals have been ordered in advance and all tables have been reserved". But forty minutes later, just before the time of f'tour, the place is packed. And, according to the owner, everyone wants a Happy Meal in McRamadan!

"The take-away food during Ramadan is new and still rather unusual," says Seda Simsek from the Centre for Turkish Studies and Integration Research in Essen. "But restaurants and snack-bar -owners  understand this trend."

The McChicken boss is Erhan "At first our German customers were surprised when sunset is approaching, it's like a flash mob," laughs Erhan. "Suddenly everything fully!"

"To eat here is a great change," says Saadet, who is a regular with her husband and their two daughters. "Most of all I like nuggets ..."

Ramadan adverts: Due to the high viewership during Ramadan, brands also frequently tailor their advertising to the Holy Month. However, due to heightened religious sensitivities during this time of year, brands and broadcasters are cautious about pushing the creative boundaries too far and causing offence with their Ramadan campaigns.

However, some brands have produced adverts that play on the theme of Ramadan in an attempt to inject some humour into their seasonal campaigns.

Is it OK to be funny? One brand that successfully pushed the boundaries of good taste is Nando’s, which ran a Ramadan advert that played on breaking the fast. The advert, broadcast in the UAE, depicted a man anxiously awaiting sunset as he prepared to tuck into a piece of Nando’s chicken. That was it; a good example of how it can be acceptable to put a humorous take on religion without being offensive.

McDonald’s ran a similarly humorous, yet religiously sensitive, Ramadan campaign in Indonesia. During the fasting hours, McDonald’s adverts depicted the trademark golden arches, as well as their burgers, being covered up, highlighting the prohibition on eating and drinking in public during the day.

After sunset, McDonald’s ran a further series of adverts with the burgers and arches “unwrapped”, sharing the breaking of the fast with their audience.

A little storm in a hijab

Over the years, Ramadan has been a time when conservative forces feel it is an opportunity to push their agendas. A few years ago it was over fasting by aircrew on Royal Air Maroc - a cause which thankfully they lost. Now it is about skirt lengths and hijabs.

The latest attempt at pushing the conservative agenda is focused on the prestigious Mohammadia Engineering School that is closed to students wearing the hijab. To change that, a campaign was launched on social networks claiming the right of "Mohajabates" to have access to the school.

Under the theme: "Hijab freedom ... education is a right", the promoters of the initiative asked the Minister of Higher Education, Lahcen Daoudi and his Deputy Minister for Scientific Research, Al Jamila Moussalli, both members of the Islamist PJD, to end measures they consider "discriminatory".

It is almost certain their pleas will fall on deaf ears because the para-military regime of the school has been in force for decades and has a high reputation.

The school imposes a unified dress code and its students have the status of reserve officers. But, as Hamid (he of the moderately funny jokes) pointed out. "I wouldn't wear that uniform in Inezgane (where the girls were arrested for wearing summer dresses)". Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition demanding those charges be dropped, while 200 lawyers have offered to defend the women.

The launch of the new conservative campaign by hijab wearers, is the reaction of some Islamists to the controversy on individual freedoms that has been the centre of attention for the past several weeks in Morocco. However well meaning its proponents might be, their support is very low.  Morocco is going through a change in social values at the moment with a clear move towards a more open, tolerant and gender equal society

Last Sunday there was an attempt to hold a mass demonstration and sit-in outside of the parliament building in Rabat. Their agenda was a demand for "right to wear the hijab in public and private places of work, dignity, access to some higher education institutes and the criminalisation of nudity". Fewer than twenty people showed up.

Small support for conservative values
Vast support for moderate values

Compare that to the mobilisation across the country in support of the young women being prosecuted for wearing skirts. Those demonstrations saw thousands take to the streets in Rabat, Casablanca and Agadir.

As far as the hijab protest goes, the major conservative forces (PJD MUR and Adl wal Ihsan Al) completely shunned the call from a girl known on social networks under the pseudonym "Hind Moroccan preacher" This refusal to take part in the protest was accompanied by a media blackout around these large Islamist movements, with the exception of a news website close to the Salafist Mohamed Maghraoui.

Coming soon to a clock near you - Daylight Saving

Sunday the 19th of July  2015  Daylight Saving Time Starts and at 02:00:00 clocks are turned forward 1 hour to 03:00:00. So there will be more light in the evening.

Healthy eating is its own reward

My wife's Iftar is a knockout...

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

After a long hot day of fasting Zakaria left a meeting at his office and decided to head home for f'tour. He patted his pockets but to his dismay couldn't locate his car keys. He ran back to the office but still couldn't find them and, convinced he must have left them in the car he headed to the parking lot.

His wife, Siham was always scolding him for leaving the keys in the ignition, saying that one day the car would be stolen.

Siham was right. The parking lot was empty. He immediately called the police, gave them his location, confessed that he had left his keys in the car, and that it had been stolen.

Then he made the most difficult call of all, "Honey," Zakaria stammered. (He always call her "honey" at times like these). "I left my keys in the car, and it has been stolen."

There was a period of silence. Zakaria thought the call had been dropped, but then he heard my wife's voice, "Zaki," she barked, "I dropped you off!"

Now it was Zakaria's time to be silent. Then, embarrassed, he asked, "Well, will you come and get me?"

Siham snorted. "Maybe. If I can convince this policeman I have not stolen your car!"

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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1 comment:

abdul muHib Carosaari said...

For those of us fasting but without an invitation to ftur, McFtur is a very poor second- but at least it's a ftur. :)