Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ramadan Observations

One of our translators asked a reporter if she could repeat something he'd missed at a meeting this morning. "No, I can't," she snapped. "I'm fasting." Like she just can't do more than she already was.

As one of the young culture reporters looked different. "I think she looks sick," one of her colleagues pointed out. She wasn't wearing any makeup. "You've never seen her this way, have you," the colleague said laughing. Both these women are in hijab, but the young woman who is also an actress is always carefully done up. "So what does Ramadan and fasting have to do with make-up?" I wanted her to know.

She had two reasons for abstaining from make-up. First, creams are a form of nourishment for your skin and even contain vitamins and so some imams believe they must be avoided. Second, she said, she doesn't want men cruising her. Attracting a man by wearing make-up is a form of sin and that is to be avoided during the holy month.

Our newspaper colleagues are tremendously impressed that Del and I are fasting. We could go in the conference room and shut the door and eat, they assured us. No, if you can do it, we can too, we tell them, but we hate it. And they laugh.

We also are bombarding them with questions. For example, why are they all rushing to go home by 2:30 during Ramadan when they still can't eat until about 7 when the sun sets? They have to shop. Four and a half hours of shopping every day? Come on. Well, the women have to cook? OK, but the men are rushing to get out too.

Come on, you can tell them, Nadir urged. "I go home and sleep."

Ramadan is kind of like the Christmas shopping season. There're all kinds of Ramadan sales and the newspapers are full of ads. People wish each other Happy Ramadan.

And basically everything is put off for a month. I want to go meet an editor our company used to work with.

"During Ramadan?" our local consultant asked.
"Well, yeah," I said. "It is only like a hour we'll take -- I don't want to wait a month."
He just nodded in that way he has when I've proposed something nutty and he doesn't want to say that specifically.

You can't have sex either during daylight hours. Or as the Koran puts it:

"It is lawful for you to have intercourse with your wives on the night of the Fast: they are garments for you while you are garments for them. Allah knows how you have been deceiving yourselves, so He has relented towards you and pardoned you. Now [feel free to ] frequent them and seek what Allah has prescribed for you. Eat and drink until the white streak [of dawn] can be distinguished by you from the black thread [of night] at daybreak. Then complete the Fast until nightfall and have no dealings with women while you are secluded at your devotions in the masaajid (mosques). Such are the limits set by Allah, so do not attempt to cross them! Allah explains His signs to mankind so they may do their duty. "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The observations about Ramdhan are very funny. I know it's crazy for a foreigner that all the country is in stand-by during a month. It's also very algerian

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