Monday, September 1, 2008

Ramadan begins

For Muslims around the world, Monday marks the start of Ramadan. In the words of a follower of the faith (source unknown):
The sighting of the thin sickle of the new moon of Ramadan heralds for the Muslim the beginning of a month of glory and of spiritual elevation, when, at Allah’s command, he voluntarily and of his own free will, denies himself between day-break and sunset, the blessing of food and drink, and surrenders himself up wholly to Allah, observing the same abstention throughout the whole month in his thoughts, his speech, his behavior, his every act.
Here are some events which relate to the start of Ramadan:
  • "Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip at Rafah for two days as a goodwill gesture . . . However, only people with urgent medical treatment and foreign residency permits are being allowed to cross over to Egypt" (RTT)
  • "For new Somalis joining their 55,000 displaced countrymen in Dagahaley refugee camp, the spirit of Ramadan currently being observed across the Islamic world will be overshadowed by hunger and hardship. The camp in north-eastern Kenya, about 80km from the officially-closed border with Somalia, is receiving a fresh wave of arrivals as drought and escalating violence add to the woes" (The National, Abu-Dabi)
  • Pakistan announced on Saturday a suspension of military operations against Islamist militants for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, but a senior official said security forces would respond if attacked. (Reuters)
Wikipedia has background information about the Ramadan holiday. Islam Online has a remarkably comprehensive list indicating precisely when the Muslims of various countries around the world can be expected to begin Ramadan.

Photo: By Jotman. I took this photo in Damascus, Syria. It shows the famous "Paradise Mural" on the wall of the great Umayyad Mosque. The mosque contains the tomb of Saladin, the Kurdish founder of the Ayyubid dynasty who vanquished the Crusaders. Also, the mosque is believed to hold remains of the head of John the Baptist, a figure revered by both Muslims and Christians. It is the only mosque every visited by a Catholic Pope (John Paul II in 2001).

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