slip-sliding away…..

Appreciating Ramadan

Posted by Yacoob on August 11, 2011

Many of us take this month for granted – the fact that we can fast (as we’ve been commanded to do), perform taraweeh, and do all the other, communal things that come packaged with this ‘month of the ummah’.

But while we have it easy – while we have this freedom – our brothers and sisters in some places are being subjected to tremendous oppression – in that they are actively discouraged, or even banned, from fulfilling these great Ramadan activities.

 

Tajikstan
For example, take the Muslim majority country of Tajikstan – whose secular government has banned Muslim youth from the masajid. This legacy of the country’s former Soviet rulers – who banned and punished the practicing of religion – also includes the government imposing sermons on imams to deliver at mosques – publishing a collection of 52 sermons that must be preached during the weekly Friday prayers. Additionally, a government campaign includs the arrest of men with beards, and ordering them to shave. All this in the name of countering “religious extremism”. For more info on the Tajikstan situation, see this article.

 

Xinjiang
Another example is the plight of the Uighur Muslims in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Chinese Muslims already face severe restrictions, but Muslim members of the government throughout Xinjiang must sign “letters of responsibility” promising to avoid fasting, taraweeh, and other religious activities. The Communist government says “Party members are not allowed to fast for Ramadan, and neither are civil servants.” Other individuals are allowed – as it’s a “traditional ethnic custom” – according to the government – but they aren’t allowed to hold any religious activities during Ramadan.

With regard to Muslims working for private companies, while there isn’t an outright ban, there are still consequences. Uighur Muslim employees are offered lunches during fasting hours; and anyone who refuses to eat could lose their annual bonus, or even their job – according to one account.

And schoolkids and the youth are also not free. Officials target Muslim schoolchildren, providing them with free lunches during the fasting period. Another report, from an Uighur resident ofBeijing, said that students under 18 are forbidden from fasting during Ramadan.

For more info on the Uighur situation, see this article.

 

These are just two examples of political oppression – but there may be others. And in addition, there are Muslims in other places that are being deprived of a ‘normal’ (in our sense) Ramadan by other issues – poverty, famine, war, and more.

So while we enjoy our Ramadan and attempt to draw closer to Allah through fasting, taraweeh, and everything good that the month brings, let’s stop to feel the pain, try to help, and at least make dua for our suffering brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.

And let’s appreciate the religious freedom we have, while we have it. Because if we don’t, we may lose it, and then we’ll look back to these times of freedom with fondness and longing – but without the ability to practice and enjoy our religion the way we are able to right now.

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6 Responses to “Appreciating Ramadan”

  1. Prixie said

    I wish you all the best over ramadaan.

  2. Tauqeer said

    Good write up, although I must tell you that in almost all around Middle east, the sermons read during Jummah are usually given by relevant Government authorities as well. An Imam can not even make ‘communal dua’ of his own.

  3. Dreamlife said

    Thanks Prixie.

    Tauqeer – I had heard that, about Egypt at least (under Mubarak) – but didn’t know it was more widely spread. It’s sad that government propaganda infiltrates even the realm of sacred knowledge. May Allah free all those who are subjected to such manipulation and restrictions…

  4. Dreamlife said

    I heard an excellent quote not long ago: ‘In the old days, imams used to prepare their khutbahs from the Quran. Nowadays, they prepare them from the newspaper.’ (Meaning that the subject matter, too often, is current affairs and political – whereas the more important sources are not the basis of most of what’s talked about.)

    I think, really, it all depends on where you live and what your imams choose to talk about. You probably get some that are heavily into politics and current affairs, while others focus on character and self-development. Others would be into history, and others into lessons from the QUran and Sunnah.

    So with regard to keeping mosques away from politics – it all depends on the choice of the imam (if he even has a choice).

  5. Azra said

    It’s true that there are many people out there who’s realities are much harsher then our own. Just the other day I wondered to myself how many of those starving Somalians would attempt to fast – even though they have nothing. Because some people tend to show their devotion regardless of their circumstances. And then 2 days ago, when it was vrek cold here in JHB with a maximum temperature of 4 degrees celcius, I saw a man in the street huddling in one of the crevices underneath the highway with just enough clothes on to have him covered but not enough to keep him warm – he may or may not have been fasting – but I’m sure there was a point where he must have gone for long periods hungry and without food.

    We take so much for granted. There are literally MILLIONS of people suffering daily… and the real travesty are those people who aren’t allowed to practice their beliefs openly.

    Bibi-Aisha posted a cool link on Facebook about a couple travelling around the world. They were in Tajikistan, the photos are fascinating… and testament to their hospitality even though it’s evident that they don’t have much. Here’s the link http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2008/01/pamir-highway-people-landscape/

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