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 Cartoon Fun 
and

The History of Ramadan 
By
Brownielocks and The 3 Bears

Note:  I am hoping that a sense of humor, blended with some information will help all of us make peace in this world by trying to understand our differences?  I spent some time clicking on some websites, and I found the topic of turbans just fascinating!   According to the websites I went to,  just how you tie them, the shape, the colors, etc. all make a statement of some sort and mean something.  The length of a turban can be as long as 82 feet!  The sites that I found the most informative were from India, and not the Middle East.
 I discovered that turbans are not only a cultural statement, but literally an art form and skill.
So it is with respect  to all Islamic people  that I made the above cartoon, with a bit of naivety. 
For those who want to read more on Turbans click the following links:

Rajasthan Turban Customs

How to Tie a Turban

 

 I also spoke to the Manager  (from Turkey)  and the Assistant Manager (from India) of the gas station that I frequent about turbans.  One wears one, one doesn't.  They sort of
smiled as I asked questions, but here is the information they told me.

It takes him 3-4 minutes every morning to tie his turban.  He said, "I bet you take more
time with your makeup?"  and winked at me.   I asked him how old a boy is when he wears his first turban and he said "About age 16, but he begins earlier to learn how to tie it."  The one he was wearing was 8 feet in length. I then asked, "If you took it off, would it fall apart?"  And they both laughed and said, "No, it's pretty tight."  Well, a line was building and I couldn't ask much more.  That's all the personal information I  have at the moment on wearing a turban.

Ramadan

Unlike some of the Christian holidays, Ramadan doesn't fall on a particular day every year (like Christmas is always December 25). Ramadan is referred to as a "lunar holiday".  The observation of Ramadan moves through the year, eventually occurring in each of the seasons.  And, I also couldn't find any specific image or colors associated with this holiday like others are known to have.  For example: Christmas is associated with red and green.  Images are like the Nativity or Santa Claus.  But with Ramadan it's not like that at all as far as I could discover. So I am using camels, because I think they are just adorable and are a well-known symbol associated with Muslims (although they live in other areas as well.)  

Most of us are familiar with Christmas being celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ.  But what is the origin of Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic year (which is lunar) and marks the anniversary of more than one significant event.  It was during Ramadan that the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.  According to legend, he was sitting alone in the wilderness when suddenly the angel Gabriel came to him with a golden tablet in his hands.  The angel told Muhammad to read what was written on the tablet.  What was on this golden tablet is said to be the essence of the Koran, just as the Tablets of the Law that Moses received on Mt. Sinai were the basis of the bible's Old Testament.  

Another event is said to be the Battle of Badr - which is the first battle between Mecca and Medina residents.  The people of Mecca were idol worshippers and the people of Medina were Muslims, in which the Muslims had a glorious victory.

The Islamic faith has what is termed The 5 Pillars or requirements of that faith.  One of the most well known is fasting, which begins when the new moon is sighted (usually on the 28th day of the previous month).  As I said earlier, Ramadan moves through the year as its start date.  So, when Ramadan falls in the height of summer, fasting is a bit more difficult to observe because the days are nearly 16 hours long.  Why is this a problem?

Because their fasting is for daylight hours only and they can not eat or drink until the sun goes down.  Muslims are permitted to hold water in their mouths for a moment, but they can not swallow it. I have also been told that kissing and having intercourse is also forbidden during daylight time. Some scholars don't brush their teeth during the fast, but instead use a little stick to clean their mouths if needed. Beyond that, if a woman begins her menstruation, her fast is also broken. She can't fast on those days (Well, she can if she wants to, but it's not a valid fast) and she has to make up after. This also applies any other sort of bleeding as well. So, if you get cut or something and bleed, this also applies.

The purpose of fasting is to teach self-discipline and is needed to prepare for the suffering that Muslims may have to face in the course of obeying their God.  They also feel it is a powerful means of defeating Satan because the poisons that are Satan's weapons are strengthened by eating and drinking. And they also all do it at the same time, creating a communal experience in which they all know what it's like to be hungry.

According to the Phophet, there are 5 things that will undo all the good that comes from fasting:
1. Telling a lie
2.  Denouncing someone behind his or her back
3. Slander
4. A False Oath
5. Greed or Covetousness

In the evening, when you can break the fast and eat, (known as Iftar)  it is usually customary to begin with a white soup made of wheat broiled in meat broth. This is followed later by a regular dinner of meat, rice and vegetables. Iftar is a happy occasion and food is either prepared at home or purchased at a market.  The timing of Iftar is usually announced on the radio or television today.  But the old tradition is to listen for the call from the minarets of the mosque.  Some Muslims will break their fast by first taking a drink of water and eating a date, just as the Prophet broke his fast years prior.  (This is like the Communion ceremony with the bread and wine in Christian churches.)  Now, when do you start to fast?  The rule is that when it becomes light enough where you can tell a white thread from a black thread, the fast must begin.  I am not sure what happens with those people with poor eyesight?

The Muslim belief states that whoever observes this fasting faithfully and with pure intentions, will have his or her sins forgiven.  Fasting during Ramadan is said to be 30 times more powerful than fasting any other time of the year.

 

In many Islamic countries, the beginning of Ramadan is announced by a firing of a gun or cannon on the eve of the first day (which begins at sunset not sunrise!). 

 Cannon fire is also used  to signal the beginning and end of each day's fast. 
{This is why we have an explosion and not any midi music on this page.
 I only set it for 2 booms (representing morning and evening) so it won't be distracting.}

 I am assuming that this tradition remains today not only as a sign of reverence, but many Muslims do not own watches, as was the custom thousands of years ago also? Therefore, cannon firing is like an early form of a clock's alarm signifying time.

The morning hours are usually spent reciting the Koran, while the rest of the day is spent sleeping, reading and praying (remember they can't eat!).  Then, as sunset approaches, Muslims gather in the mosque to chant the Koran and pray.  When the gun announces the end of the fast, they return home to eat.  It is compulsory for every Muslim over the age of 12 to observe the fast.  Children learn to fast by doing so gradually, until they are old enough to do so without injuring their health. 

Ramadan is a time for self-examination and increased religious devotion.  The fast ends when the new moon is again sighted and the month of Shawwal begins.  It is followed by the Id Al-Fitr feasting and the exchange of gifts.

The 5 Pillars of Islam

What are the 5 requirements of Islam besides fasting?

1. Shahadah - The duty to recite the creed of Islam as follows:
"There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet."

2. Salah - The duty to worship God with prayer 5 times daily.

3. Zakah - The duty to be charitable, to distribute alms and to help the needy.

4.  Sawm - Observing the Fast

5.  Haij - The duty to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life.

The first two pillars, Shahadah and Salah are considered essential to be a Muslim.  Anyone who disregards those first two can never be considered a Muslim.

The Moon

What does it mean to have a lunar calendar?  It means that you don't start a month by a numerical date like on the 1st, but whenever the new moon appears (which could be say on the 10th?).
In Muslim countries, people step outside to see the new moon of Ramadan, often climbing on their rooftops to get a better view. Once the new moon is seen, everyone congratulates each other and then hurries inside to prepare for the early morning meal.

So what do you do if you've got miserable weather and can't seen the moon? Apparently all it takes is two people to see it and that makes a confirmation.  Therefore, Muslims with proper technical equipment will affirm that the moon is out and then the news is given to the media to broadcast out to the people.  In the old days, when you heard the cannon fire, you knew the moon had been verified.

Sahur

Sahur is the meal taken just before the sun comes up (dawn) and the start of the day's fast during Ramadan.

When Ramadan falls during the winter months, when the nights are longer and people have plenty of time to rest, Sahur is a full meal.
But on the short summer months, due to the short time between Iftar and Sahur (the evening meal that breaks the day's fast and then the pre-sunrise meal before the sun comes up), then Sahur is rather light and simple.  In other words if Ramadan is say in July and the sun doesn't go down until 9:45 pm then the sun rise is say at 5:00 am there is approximately only 7 hrs. between the evening meal (say at 10:00 pm) and the Sahur at say 4:30 am? Whereas, in the winter months if the sun goes down at 5:00 pm and the sunrise isn't until 5:30 am there is almost 12 hours between meals.
I think I got this right? ;)

Anyway, the Muslim religion is immensely complex, just like many other religions.  This page isn't meant to cover Islam in it's entirety but just give a simple explanation for some of the basics.

Camels

Camels have nothing to do with Ramadan, but I just find them so cute and adoreable.
I also took some time to visit sites that offer some information about them.
For a bit more camel information visit:
Camel Lore, Registry and More

 


Visit our Page of Traditional Holidays

`
Check out some of the Bizarre Holidays

 

Source: Holiday Symbols, 2nd Edition
By Sue Ellen Thompson
Omnigraphics, Inc. 2000

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