Friday, September 28, 2007

Flying back

Leaving Qatar and heading back to Des Plaines.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramadan Hareem (Happy Ramadan!)

Ramadan starts with the sighting of the new moon in the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar, so if it's cloudy at night and you cannot see the moon then it is possible the month will start the next day. But we could see the moon last night so it started today. Ramadan Kereem (Happy Ramadan!). It is the holiest month in which the revelation of the Koran began and the conquest of Mecca occurred. The month also ends with the phase of the moon, so it can go long if you can't see the moon due to clouds. I would imagine its hard to plan the final celebrating around possible clouds.

So what does Ramadan entail? The part most people hear about is the no eating or drinking from dawn till dusk. And that mean NO drinking. You can't have water, juice, coffee or tea..nada. And that means no brushing your teeth or chewing gum, nothing should ever be in your mouth. The not as known things are no smoking and no sexual relations. In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer). The length of this prayer is usually 2-3 times as long as the daily prayers. Some Muslims spend the entire night in prayer. I was also told that it is encouraged to read the entire Koran during this month. It is illegal in the Gulf Countries to eat or drink in public. This is enforced by fines or being arrested.
At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning. Many of the local hotels have huge buffets to eat at in the eve. The locals all go out about 10 pm and the dinners last till 1 am. Many businesses are only open 8pm to 1am. So you and the rest of the country are all trying to get your errands done at the same time. That makes it more interesting. Today is only the first day of the month but the amount of decorations that you see everywhere is spectacular. I hope we are here until the end of this lunar month. There is a three day celebration at the end of the month, that are suppose to be the best of the year.