Friday, July 10, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Twenty-Three

Ibn Warraq's Ramadan musings...

Heat and fasting exhaustion is beginning to take its toll, but not, maybe in the way you might expect. In the shady streets of the Fez Medina, things are quiet. There has been no increase in arguments, altercations or even outbreaks of shouting. The reason? My neighbour Si Mohammed said the answer was simple. "With temperatures around forty degrees, who has the energy to argue?" Maybe he's right, but whatever the reason it makes a pleasant contrast to some places where the stressful side of Ramadan has caused flareups, even between friends.

Heat is all relative, of course, but when Si Mohammed heard about some workers in England complaining about thirty-one degrees, he rolled his eyes. "Thirty-one? Oh, that would be like honey."

Unfortunately the workers in various Jaguar Land Rover factories in the UK don't agree. A Solihull-based Land Rover worker said the temperature had reached 31 degrees Celsius in the Lode Lane factory at one stage during the recent record-breaking July heatwave.

“We work hard in a factory where the temperature is over 31 degrees and we asked for fans. But in the area where I work there are no fans and we were told there is no budget for them. There are people fasting and the company didn’t even care when he asked for a fan to cool down because he can’t drink water till night falls. The health and safety managers don’t care as long as they are in their air-conditioned offices.”

"The Beard That's Feared"

Moeen Ali says there is a secret behind his Ashes heroics. The twenty-eight-year-old English cricket star made 77 with the bat against Australia in the first test and then took two wickets with his spin bowling.

Oh, and did I mention that Moeen is a devout Muslim and has been fasting every day of Ramadan? Fasting is his secret weapon that he says significantly improved his performance ahead of the gruelling Ashes series. "If you're not doing much you might feel a bit lethargic, but if I'm at the ground, if I'm playing, then it just isn't difficult."

"Ramadan is brilliant for teaching self-control, having discipline, detoxification of your body and, after a couple of days, you really feel much better." ~ Moeen Ali

Ali also spoke of wanting to challenge misconceptions British people held about Muslims.

The all-rounder, who sports a long beard, said he was keen to show the positive contribution British Muslims make to the country, but had received some negative attention in the past. "I know people aren't sure about men who look like I do. People don't see the beard as a bit of hair," he said."I've been shouted at, called some horrible names, and when I first came to Worcester I noticed people crossing the road to avoid me."

Moeen Ali is known in cricketing circles as 'beard that's feared', said his faith meant "everything" to him, but also admitted that there were "a lot of bad Muslims giving us a bad name". He said he wanted to set the record straight, but added that non-Muslims needed to change their attitudes.

"There are a lot of ignorant people, too," he said. "I hope what people see in me is that I'm a normal guy, and that people who look as I do can do normal things. And people don't see us as normal at times we feel alienated. I hope I can change that, so even if I can make one person think, 'You know, Muslims are all right, they're good people', then I've done a decent job."

Travel warnings for Turkey and Tunisia, but Morocco gets the thumbs up

The first of up to 3000 of British holidaymakers are on their way home from Tunisia after a warning that another terror attack is "highly likely".  However the warning drew criticism from tourists and from Tunisia, which said it had done all it could to protect people.

But Philip Hammond, the UK foreign secretary, said it was "too big a risk" not to act and that the UK hoped to downgrade its travel guidance "in the not too distant future".

Tunisians hold a minutes silence for the victims of the previous attack

Ireland, where three of the victims of the last attack were from has also warned against "all non-essential travel" to the country. Denmark followed suit but Germany and France have not altered their advice. Australia also issued a warning against travel to Tunisia.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning will have no effect on Moroccan tourism which is expected to provide a safe alternative to those people looking to holiday in North Africa.

Unrest in Istanbul prompts travel warning

Morocco may well have a tourism increase because of the unrest in Turkey. A travel warning has been issued as a Muslim protest mob attacked tourists in Istanbul.

Turkish nationalists shouting "Allahu Akbar" accidentally attacked the group of innnocent Korean tourists – after mistaking them for Chinese nationals during the demonstration. The furious protesters were marching towards Istanbul's Topkapi Palace to show solidarity with the Islamic Uighur community in China who have allegedly been banned from worshipping and fasting during the holy month.

Riot police stepped in to rescue the tourists from the attackers, who were reportedly members of the far-right Grey Wolves movement. One devastated tourist caught up in the trouble was heard saying: "I'm not Chinese, I'm Korean."

A popular Chinese restaurant in Istanbul also had its windows smashed by protesters who did not realise the chef was Muslim.

Now China has warned its citizens to be careful of anti-Beijing protests, saying some Chinese tourists have recently been "attacked and disturbed".

The notice, posted on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on Sunday, said there had been "multiple" demonstrations in Turkey targeting the Chinese government.

Iran - Negotiating during Ramadan

You have to hand it to the Iranians for creative thinking. Iranian negotiators and the journalists who flew to the Austrian capital with them are not going hungry and thirsty during the long days of contentious talks. Instead, they are eating every day, partaking in meals catered by the Iranian Embassy in Vienna and made with halal meat and chicken.

The exemption from fasting is because they are travellers, and the Qur'an says travellers are not obliged to fast. The rules also have some built-in flexibility, thanks to interpretive clerical edicts. The exemption from fasting is for Muslims traveling for less than 10 days. As the talks stretched into their 13th day Thursday, key to the 10-day rule is determining how long a traveller intended to be away from home.

Iranian negotiators - plenty to eat and drink

When the Iranian negotiating team arrived June 26, it was facing a deadline four days down the road. After no agreement was reached by that date, the talks were extended for seven days, and the clock started ticking anew. And after that week elapsed, the talks were extended a second time, by three days. Again, the 10-day intentional time-frame was calculated anew.

The diplomats eventually will have to make up the lost days of fasting, but they have until next Ramadan to do it. They could choose to observe a fast all at once, or they could spread it out by fasting once a week, or twice a month, until they have fulfilled their obligation.

Negotiations during Ramadan were a little more complicated last year, when there was no specific deadline. When the talks in Vienna continued beyond 10 days, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif got in his car and drove for 13 miles into the countryside, a distance based on an old form of measurement that qualified him as a traveller again. - as I said, creative thinking.

According to astronomical calculations Eid El Fitr is expected on July 17th - maybe!

While Muslims are in the home straight of Ramadan, the date of Eid El Fitr marking the end of fasting is still a matter of debate. Several bodies such as the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and the Sharjah Planetarium have already announced the date of July 17, others, however, believe it will be difficult to see the new moon on the 16th and bet on the 18th for Eid El Fitr.

And, what is this about?

I've seen some strange "Ramadan Cards" - but this one is really odd. Any clues?

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

The ever-wise Mula Nasruddin and Jallalluddin are sitting next to each other in the local kebab shop when Mula Nasruddin says: "Let's play a game.. I will ask you a question, if you don't know the answer, you pay me only $5 and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500."

Mula Nasruddin asks the first question: What's the distance from the Earth to the Moon...?

Jallalluddin doesn't say a word, reaches into his pocket, Pulls out a $5.

Now... it's Jallalluddin's turn. He asks Mula Nasruddin: What goes up a hill with 3 legs and comes down on 4 legs?

Mula Nasruddin searches the Internet and asks all his smart friends but after an hour he gives up and hands over $500.

Mula Nasruddin going nuts and asks: Well... so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?

Jallalluddin shrugs, reaches his pocket again and gives Mula Nasruddin $5.

Mula Nasruddin sat dumb-founded.

Saha Ftourkoum!

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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