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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramadan – Starts Tomorrow

Actually it doesn’t start until the Muslim official in my district says that the new moon is over the horizon at the crack of dawn (or something like that) but generally everyone knows that we start fasting tomorrow.

Fasting means no food, no water, no liquids, no smoking and no sex from 4:15 tomorrow morning till 5:33 in the evening when you hear the call to prayer on the loudspeakers. At school every student and teacher was given a chart showing the exact time for the 8 different prayers every day during the month of Ramadan. It’s mandatory to pray 5 times a day but during Ramadan there are lots of extra prayers.

The prayer times for tomorrow, in my village are Imsak 4:15, Subuh 4:25, Syuruq 5:42, Dhuha 6:09, Dluhur 11:41, Ashar 15:00, Magrib 17:33 and Isya 18:44. (Note – that is FOUR different prayers before 6:30am!) There is also another number listed for Arah Qiblat. When I asked what that was, I was told it was the direction for Mecca, but it also changes by about 3 minutes every day, so I don’t really know, maybe it has something to do with the moon or the sun too. The times for prayers vary at every location, depending on when the sun comes up. It’s not really consistent – I wonder if the presence of mountains figures into the calculations.

Religion here is not just something you believe. It is a way of life. It regulates what you wear, what you eat, when you sleep, who you marry and how you get buried. It’s fascinating and a little overwhelming. Every Indonesian carries an identity card and a religion must be listed on the card. One of the 5 principles of Indonesia is belief in a God and you need to carry a document showing which God you believe in.

Mon, Tues and Wed there is no school. Then I teach on Thurs and Fri. Then I spend a week at the regional capital having a mid-service conference with the other Peace Corps Volunteers in my group and a co-teacher from my school will be there for 2 days too. Then I return to school, teach on Mon and Tues. Then Wed is the official National Day of Independence, so no school, but mandatory flag ceremony at the town assembly field. Then we have a week called “The Cottage of Ramadan” and during that time all classes will be cancelled so that the students can study concentrated Islamic studies for a week. Then 4 days of vacation before the big holiday when there is lots of feasting – Idul Fitri.

That means that I will teach for only 4 days during the month of August. I like to teach. It brings me a lot of joy. It gives me something to do besides just thinking about being hungry and thirsty. This year Erika, another Peace Corps volunteer suggested that we pray for specific groups of people every day. Monday we will pray for the Peace Corps staff and the US staff.

Last year I fasted for the 30 days of Ramadan. This year I’m beginning again with the same weak commitment to “have a go at it.” The no water part seems strange, but it is true that many people in the world do not have access to clean water. Being hungry and thirsty is a part of the human condition. I’m not Muslim. I do this as a statement of solidarity with my Muslim friends here in Indonesia. I have NO intention of doing it in America. But there is a certain camaraderie that develops when people support each other in doing something difficult.

Because it’s what’s on my mind almost constantly I’ll title each blog during this month: Ramadan – with whatever subtitle seems to fit.
Here’s some information from Wikipedia.:

Ramadan (calendar month)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the Islamic calendar month called Ramadan. For information about the holiday and religious observances during that month of the same name, see Ramadan.
Islamic Calendar

1. Muharram
2. Safar
3. Rabi' al-awwal
4. Rabi' al-thani
5. Jumada al-awwal
6. Jumada al-thani
7. Rajab
8. Sha'aban
9. Ramadan
10. Shawwal
11. Dhu al-Qi'dah
12. Dhu al-Hijjah

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Qur'an was revealed.
Ramadan is the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar, and fasting in this month is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. The name came from the time before the Islamic calendar, when the month of Ramadan fell in the summer. Fasting during this month is often thought figuratively to burn away all sins. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was sent down to the lowest heaven during this month, thus being prepared for gradual revelation by the angel Jibral (Gabriel) to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be open all the month and the gates of Hell (Jahannam) would be closed[citation needed]. The first day of the next month, Shawwal, is spent in celebrations and is observed as the "Festival of Breaking Fast" or `Eid ul-Fitr.

[] Timing
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year and contains no intercalation, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons. The Islamic day starts after sunset. The actual and estimated start and end dates for Ramadan in 2005–2015 were and are as follows:
First day Last day
2005 1426 4 October 2 November
2006 1427 24 September 23 October
2007 1428 13 September 12 October
2008 1429 1 September 30 September
2009 1430[1] 22 August 20 September
2010 1431[1] 11 August 9 September
2011 1432[1] 1 August 29 August
2012 1433[1] 20 July 18 August
2013 1434[1] 9 July 7 August
2014 1435[1] 28 June 27 July
2015 1436[1] 18 June 16 July

Many Muslims insist on the local physical sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of Ramadan, but others use the calculated time of the new moon or the Saudi Arabian declaration to determine the start of the month. Since the new moon is not in the same state at the same time globally, the beginning and ending dates of Ramadan depend on what lunar sightings are received in each respective location. As a result, Ramadan dates vary in different countries, but usually only by a day. This is due to the cycle of the moon. When one country sees the moon, mainly Saudi Arabia, the moon travels the same path all year round and that same moon seen in the east is then seen traveling towards the west. All the countries around the world see the moon within a 24 hour period once spotted by one country in the east.
Each year, Ramadan begins about eleven days earlier than in the previous year.[2] Astronomical projections that approximate the start of Ramadan are available.[3]
At the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by Muslims.
[] Events
• Ramadan is observed by Muslims during the entire lunar month by the same name. The month of religious observances consists of fasting and extra prayers.
o 02 Ramadan, the Torah (Tawrat) was bestowed on Moses (Musa). (According to Shia Islam)
o 10 Ramadan, death of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – first wife of Muhammad
o 12 Ramadan, the Gospel (Injil) was bestowed on Jesus (Isa). (According to Shia Islam)
o 15 Ramadan, birth of Hasan ibn Ali
o 17 Ramadan, the Battle of Badr was won by the Muslims.
o 18 Ramadan, the Psalms (Zabur) were bestowed on David (Dawood). (According to Shia Islam)
o 19 Ramadan, Ali bin Abi Talib was struck on the head by a sword.
o 21 Ramadan, Ali bin Abi Talib died due to injuries he sustained by a sword.
o Laylat al-Qadr is observed during one of the last ten odd numbered days of the month. Muslims believe that this night which is also known as "The Night of Destiny" is better than a thousand months. This is often interpreted as praying throughout this night is rewarded equally with praying for a thousand months (just over 83 years i.e. a lifetime). Many Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.
• In the Ottoman Empire, the sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı.

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