Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ramadan, Day 9

Sorry for the breakdown in posting btw, I had a computer malfunction that took a few days to sort out.

I can now see why despite the fasting a lot of people actually gain weight during Ramadan. Traditionally you should break the fast with friends or family so of course I have been doing so for most days. That means big meals in restaurants and buffets at hotels. Almost every night I'm going out to eat somewhere with people, and next week I have three different hotel buffets I'm attending as part of invitations from the office and firms that I work with. Today it was a buffet at a Japanese restaurant with great sushi. Earlier today some of my Muslim friends found that a little odd, "You shouldn't have sushi for Iftar!”. Why not? I realize that perhaps sushi isn't exactly “traditional” but I had Indian food on two other nights, and the three Muslims that I attended dinner with, a Kuwaiti, two Lebanese, and a Turk, didn't seem to mind either. (Sounds like there's a joke in there somewhere: a Kuwaiti, a Lebanese, a Turk and a Canadian walk into a sushi bar... ). The restaurant appeared to be full of Muslims, including a Qatari couple. I did break the fast initially with dates and laban though, supplied by the restaurant. Looks like all restaurants have dates at the ready for the commencement of Iftar.

I also learned from one of my Qatari friends that when breaking the fast you should eat an odd number of dates. Many Hadiths appear to mention that the Prophet Mohammed ate at least three dates and always an odd number. I will check my Al-Bukhari Hadiths to see if there is anything in it about how many dates to eat. (No luck finding Sawiq by the way, it appears no one breaks their fast with that.)

Another Ramadan tradition is that you should read (or have read to you) the entire Qur’an during the holy month. Many mosques have a special reading every night where the Qur’an is divided up into 29 sections and a section recited each evening -- by attending the readings each night you will have heard the entire Qur’an recited. While most read it on their own one has to remember that, not so long ago, illiteracy was high so you would have to listen to a recitation. One of my Qatari friends mentioned that his Grandmother was illiterate so listened to audio CDs of the Qur’an.

I'm getting used to the fasting now so in addition to the fasting I’ve decided to spend 30 to 45 minutes reading the Qur’an everyday. That is not enough time to get through the entire book but it gives me an opportunity to have a bit of a refresher from when I last read it about three years ago. I recently found a passage that I don't recall from before that I think explains why the Prophet Mohammed had more than four wives. Surah 33:50 indicates that he alone was exempt from some marriage rules. I always wondered about that -- by my recollection he had nine wives but Muslims are limited to four wives (and from most of the Muslim men I've spoken to one wife is plenty. “Big headache! Don’t do it!” was the advice from one Bahraini taxi driver.  )

I also have plans to visit one of the mosques that conduct prayers in English to witness the evening prayers and maybe listen to a lecture if one is held. Stay tuned.

No comments: