Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Twenty-Nine

Ibn Warraq's penultimate Ramadan musing...

The dominant theme of conversations around Morocco today is the moon. Does Ramadan end tonight or tomorrow night? Is Eid on Friday or Saturday?  In second place in the conversation stakes is "where are all the oranges?" Moroccan orange juice is in such demand at the moment that only geriatric oranges are available in the souqs.

But back to Eid. Most people I talked to today were praying that it was on Saturday not Friday. Why? "Because there is still so much to do." "I have to go to the hammam with the children." "I  have a booking for henna".  And so it goes. And all the time people are checking to see if the authorities have had a sighting of the moon.

The other thing is the weather. Around 6.30 pm a storm hit Fez with some welcome rain and a dramatic drop of temperature. Sadly, it was an erratic event with sudden gusts of high winds and the rain was not distributed across the entire Medina. But, el humdullilah, I stood for a moment, face upturned, (careful not to drink any), as the rain tumbled down. My biggest problem with the rain? How is anyone going to see the moon?
UPDATE:Saturday will be the first day of Eid El Fitr, the Moroccan Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs announced on Thursday evening.
Then it was back to answering emails about the moon,

Moon sighting in Saudi Arabia

Eid El Fitr in Saudi Arabia will be celebrated Friday July 17, Al Arabiya TV channel said on Thursday evening. “A new moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabia, heralding the start of Eid Al-Fitr holiday,” Al Arabiya network said citing local reports.

The UAE, Kuwait also announced that Eid El Fitr will be celebrated on Friday, while Iraq and Bangladesh announced that the holiday will be observed on Saturday. A meeting France at the grand mosque of Paris, has announced that the 1 st day of Shawwal will correspond to 17 July. Muslims in France have the last day of Ramadan today and celebrate Eid Al Fitr tomorrow.

Moroccan authorities have still not announced whether Eid El Fitr will be celebrated on Friday or Saturday. However Morocco’s Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, said on Thursday that the last day of Ramadan in Morocco is Friday and the first day of Eid El Fitr is Saturday.

“Eid El Fir will most likely on Saturday,” Benkirane said. His announcement comes several hours before the Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs will announce when Ramadan ends.

Morocco bases its decisions to observe Ramadan and other Islamic holidays on the sighting of the moon, which marks the beginning of the month in Islamic calendar.

This year Morocco started Ramadan on June 18, on the same day when most other Muslims countries started the month-long fasting holiday. But it is likely that Morocco will fast one more day than other Muslim countries.

This year, the first day of Ramadan was observed on 17 or 18 June in different parts of the world. In India, the first fast was observed on 19 June 2015. Assuming the new moon is sighted after 30 days, Muslims in India will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr on 19 July, 2015. However, as it has happened in the past, the moon is sighted after Muslims observe the 29th fast. In that case, Eid ul-Fitr will be celebrated on 18 July.

Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi

In countries like Saudi Arabia, it is common that Eid El-Fitr falls a day before in India. The holy month of Ramadan is also announced early in the Middle East. Below is the list of different countries that will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr on different dates. The dates listed below are based on the astronomical calculations and on completion of 30 days of Ramadan.

Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in Saudi Arabia: Friday, 17 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 UAE: Friday, 17 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in Dubai: Saturday, 17 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in the U.S.: Saturday, 18 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in United Kingdom: Saturday, 18 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in Pakistan: Saturday, 18 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in Morocco: Saturday, 18 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in Australia: Saturday, 18 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in Qatar: Saturday, 18 July
Eid ul-Fitr 2015 in India: Sunday, 19 July

A section of Islamic scholars believe that seeing the moon with the naked eye should be the criterion for declaring the end of Ramadan. A smaller section advocates that we can rely solely on the calculations, and there is no need to visually see the moon.

It is possible to use calculations and modern simulations for knowing where and when to look for the moon, how high it will be in the sky, and what are the chances of its visibility. It is now possible to calculate the exact window of the moon’s visibility after sunset and even generate simulated images of the moon beforehand.

In some countries official and unofficial moon sighting committees ask people to testify if they have seen the moon. This is where these simulated images can be use: anyone who claims to have seen the moon can be asked questions like what time they saw it, how high it was, whether it was near or close to the sun, whether the cusps were upward or sideways, whether it was on the left side or right side of the moon.

No matter what method you use, there will be a lot of people looking in the sky tonight and, maybe tomorrow..

But Eid or not on Friday, you can forget paying any bills or doing any official business on Friday. A press release of the Ministry of Public Service has announced that Friday, July 17, has been pronounced an "exceptional" holiday in "the administrations and public institutions and local authorities", regardless of the day of Eid.

And another reminder that daylight saving returns to Morocco this coming Sunday (July 19th) at two in the morning clocks are turned forward 1 hour.

Zakat and Sadaqat al-Fitr

The significant role played by Zakat in the circulation of wealth within the Islamic society is also played by the Sadaqat al-Fitr. However, in the case of Sadaqat al-Fitr, each individual is required to calculate how much charity is due from himself and his dependents and go into the community in order to find those who deserve such charity.

Sadaqat al-Fitr plays a very important role in the development of the bonds of community. The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.

Zakat Fitr (alms of the fast breaking) is mandatory for "anyone who has food for a day and a night" and "has a surplus of food." It must be paid on behalf of any dependents. For example, a family man with three children will pay Zakat for himself, his wife and three children. This offering may be paid in cash, or food.

The amount to be paid is set by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The highest amount set is in Rabat at 17.5 dirhams, while it is only 10 dirhams in Casablanca. In Salé, 15 dirhams, Errachidia the amount varies between 13 and 15 dirhams.

In the Marrakech region, the amount of Zakat varies between 12 and 15 dirhams, while it is 13 dirhams in Tangier, Tetouan and Fez. It has been set at 10 dirhams in Meknes, Oujda, Settat, Kenitra, Safi, El Jadida and Essaouira, 9 dirhams in Khouribga and 8 dirhams in Zagora and Ouarzazate. For full details go the Ministry Website

200 to 300 million dirhams will be collected this year for Zakat Fitr in Morocco. Zakat must be paid before the Eid prayer and up to 48 hours before that prayer.

If you prefer to pay in kind the amount is the amount in kind the amount of Zakat in kind, it is around 2.5 kilos of wheat.

End of Ramadan TV is a blessing

Like ghosts of Ramadans past, Moroccan television lived up to everyone's expectations - it was woeful. The complaints have, however,  have not had the effect of causing the general population to switching off.

But the critics are vocal. Fatima Ezzahra Metkal, writing for the prestigious Morocco World News, says that one Ramadan TV comedy was "an insult to mothers". Here is an extract of what she had to say.

What captures our attention in “Marhba b S’habi” (Welcome my friends), broadcast on the Moroccan TV channel “Al Aoula,” is the language used between the characters of the story, especially between members of a nuclear family. The figures of speech used by a boy to address his friend include: “the son of a bitch (female of dog), “the son of a greedy” (someone who likes food very much), and he compares his beloved mother to a Doberman. When his father addresses him, he uses: “the son of Haram,” (son of an unmarried and illegitimate couple).

Is this what makes people laugh? Or are our Moroccan comedians running out of words to use? Where is the noble message that comedians should transmit to our children? Can’t we join the purposeful to the humorous?

Moroccan comedians are using shocking, provoking and offending language to describe the most precious person; our mothers. Making fun of parents, particularly the mother figure, is what Moroccan comedians chose as a way of entertaining fasters.

Insulting language was the reward generous women received this holy month. This is not teaching children how to talk to their parents and is socially destructive.

There is a lack of balance between what is educational and what is entertaining. The content of what is watched and the quality of words matter to Moroccans. For this reason, the content and quality of words should be checked and re-checked.

Actors are examples that children follow. It goes without saying that TV influences the development of our children’s language. Moroccan comedians should offer their viewers, and above all, young children, a quality that aims at stimulating their cognitive development while entertaining them at the same time. It is neither in Islam nor in Moroccan culture to speak to parents or to children in an offensive way.

See the full article here: Morocco World News

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

One day, Mousaniss rodes into Marrakech, a city where the people love to play jokes on visitors.

After tying his camel to the pole outside a take-away shack, Mouaniss went in and asked for a cup of milk.

After drinking, he went out, only to find his camel missing.

Knowing that the people of Marrakech did it, he went back into the shack and said to everybody,"

I am going to have another drink and when I finish it, I want to see my camel outside! Or else, I will have to do what I did in Fez -  I WILL DO IT HERE!"

The people were very frightened.

When he finished his second drink, he went outside and saw his camel which the locals had hastily returned.

Curious, the man behind the counter asked, Mouaniss: "What did you actually do in Fez?"

Mouaniss smiled gently and replied,"Well, I had to walk home."

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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