Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 12, Miswak

One of the questions I originally had about fasting and not being able to drink any liquids is, “is it okay to brush your teeth?”

I asked around and there are two possibilities:

1) yes, you can brush your teeth is normal just make sure you don't swallow any water. Many of my Qatari friends brush their teeth during the day; or

2) use miswak.

So what's a miswak? Miswak, also known as siwak, is the branch of a specific type of tree that grows in the Middle East. It had long been used for cleaning teeth, pre-dating Islam, and even to this day many people in the Gulf use it.

You can buy it at pharmacies (you might need to ask the pharmacist where it is, they don't keep it next to the toothbrushes). Here's what it looks like:

So how do you use it? First you strip off some of the bark at one end. Then you chew on and moisten the end, it gets bristly similar to a toothbrush.

Then clean your teeth. No water or toothpaste required.

Using it for the first time was strange. It has an odd taste, apparently that's from the chemicals in the wood that kill bacteria and help clean the teeth. It's also harder to use than a toothbrush because the bristles points straight out rather than a toothbrush where they point out of the side.

If you want to see more there are some videos on youtube of people using miswak.



I'm sure you get used to it in time.


Hadiths of the Day!


Abd al-Rahman son of Abd Said al-Khudri reported on the authority of his father that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: “Bathing on Friday for every adult, using of Miswak and applying some perfume, that is available-these are essential. So far as the perfume is concerned, it may be that used by a lady.” (Sahih Muslim)

Abdullah Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: “I saw in a dream that I was using miswak and the two persons contended to get it from me, the one being older than the other one. I gave the miswak to the younger one. It was said to me to give that to the older one and I gave it to the older one.” (Sahih Muslim)

Abu Huraira narrated: Allah’s Apostle ((peace be upon him) said, "If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak for every prayer." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 10, Fasting and Exercise

One of the issues I'm finding with fasting is that, ironically given it's the summer, I get cold much easier than before. I'm guessing that because I'm fasting my body doesn't generate heat as well as before. I sit in the office with a jacket on and my hands still feel like ice. When I have my nap in the afternoon I have to put an extra blanket on because once I start sleeping I feel a bit cold even though the room is 24°. These issues go away once I start eating and the extra blanket is removed when I go to sleep at night.

Fasting also throws an exercise routine out of whack and it becomes difficult to find time to exercise. That said I made time for a 45-minute walk tonight but because of the heat and humidity I was absolutely drenched with sweat when I got home. Looks like I'll have to use the treadmill. My Muslim friends are having issues with getting exercise as well, tarawih prayers don't usually end until around 9:30pm after which you have a large meal (if your iftar was small) and after you finish that you really don't feel like exercising.

I'm now trying to keep my iftars consistent:

• 3 dates
• small handful of nuts
• a bit of cheese
• a few olives
• small bowl of chili with some rye crackers (I made a chili for the ghabga last weekend so I'm now eating the leftovers)
• a yogurt
• 2 glasses of water
• 1 glass of laban

I'm finding this settles in the stomach a lot better than other meals.


Hadith of the Day

It's not all about war . . .

Abu Shuraih Al-Khuza’i narrator that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should be kind to his neighbor. And he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should be hospitable to his guest. And he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should say good words or keep silent." (Sahih Muslim, Book of Iman)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ramadan 2012 - Day 9, Ghabga and the Olympic Opening Ceremony

So that evening a bunch of us met up at a Qatari friend’s place for a ghabga (mid-evening Ramadan meal). We got there around 10pm and hung out chatting while my friend served tea and Arabic coffee. We had the TV on a sports channel to catch the Olympic Opening Ceremony, which started around 11pm Doha time.

By the time the ceremony started the group consisted of four Qataris, a Turk, an Australian, an Egyptian, and me. Why am I telling you that? Well, it was interesting to get a perspective of the Opening Ceremony from non-British, non-Commonwealth, people who knew very little about British history.

The comments went something like this . . .

“Okaaaay, a bunch of people dancing around some fields . . . “
“WTH is with the smokestacks and everyone coming out all dirty”
“Nothing really seems to have colour, it's all grays and browns”
“Why are those guys with the strange hats doing weird moves”
“I’m really confused”
“Is this a tribute to Lord of the Rings?”
“Why are nurses moving kids around in beds, and what is NHS?”
“Nurses, kids, weird monsters . . . I really don't get this”
[everyone thought the Queen skydiving bit was funny]
“Is the British anthem that short?”
“MR. BEAN!” [Everyone liked Mr. Bean!]

Then we missed a bunch of it because it was time to eat. We still had the TV on and occasionally catch glimpses of various video clips of bands and stuff. Most of the guys had no idea who the bands were or what this was representing.

For ghabga, in traditional fashion, it was held on the floor:

The dishes were hammour (grouper) on saffron rice, another type of fish on white rice, and a type of kibbeh in a red sauce with shrimp. Many ate with their hands but they provided cutlery for us Westerners.

Afterward we watched the athlete’s parade and ate dessert, a type of rice pudding with pistachio, and some small pastries with sugar syrup. By the time the parade was finished it was 2:30am so we all left. Shame, from some of the reviews I read the final bit of the ceremony was apparently pretty cool. Way too late in the morning for me though. I didn't bother having a snack at 3:15 before the day’s fast began, just had a couple glasses of water and went to bed.

Overall consensus of the first part of the opening ceremony -- confusing, odd, not particularly great. It made more sense to the Aussie and I could even then I found the sudden shifts in tone odd. Especially the Industrial Era scene, I can't imagine people in the stands there would have been able to really make out what was going on.


Hadith of the Day.

On war . . .

‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar narrated: a woman was found killed in one of the raids, so the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade killing women and children. (Sahih Muslim, Book of Military Expeditions)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ramadan 2012 - Day 8, FANAR Islamic Centre events

Nothing exciting so far today. Slept in, went to work for a little while to pass the time, then went and picked up my cleaner to tidy up the apartment (he’s Muslim so he asked if he could switch from his usual time to Friday afternoon during Ramadan -- that way he's got something to keep him occupied in the afternoon while he’s fasting).

A few days ago someone from FANAR, the Islamic Cultural Centre posted a comment about upcoming Iftar events for Non-Muslims. I figure I should help spread the word, I went to one last year and had an excellent time. The remaining events are:

Katara: August 3rd
Fanar: August 10th

I was told you can call 44250234 or email “culture @fanar.gov.qa” to reserve a space. I highly recommend it, I'll see about whether I can attend the one on the 10th.

FANAR also hosts lectures and other events (tonight they have a lecture by a scholar but unfortunately it is in Urdu). Their website doesn't seem up to date but I'm sure you can give them a call and find out what's coming up. Some of the local papers will also advertise their events.

The plan for tonight was for me to host a ghabga, a meal that takes place after iftar but before a sohour, typically around midnight. Ghabgas are unique to the Gulf region, for most other Arabic speakers any meal after the iftar is a sohour. An Egyptian friend of mine said he had never heard of a ghabga until he came here.

Plans changed when one of my Qatari friends called and asked to move the ghabga to his majlis. No big deal, there was only going to be six of us at my place (including him) and with one exception the other guests are friends of his and he said it was okay for me to invite along the one guy he didn't know. Looks like it will be Ghabga at a majlis tonight.


Hadith of the Day

You can practically see his eyeballs rolling . . .

‘Imran bin Husain narrated: A man bit a hand of another and when the bitten pulled away his hand, the biter's front teeth fell off. The biter came to be Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) for justice. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "What do you want me to do. Do you want me to order him to keep his hand in your mouth so that you can bite it off like a stallion?

Put your hand in his mouth and pull it out when he bites.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 7, Artillery and a Car Show

Last night I decided to see the artillery gun blast to announce the breaking of the fast. They do this every day during Ramadan.

So I headed out to the post office near the Corniche. Tons of people were already there.

Like last year kids were climbing all over the gun. The soldiers there didn't mind.

When it was getting close to time the soldiers had to shoo everyone away.

Load it up

Get ready


This year I was closer than the time before. A bit too close. My ears were ringing a little from the blast.

Then I drove to a hotel to meet up with an American friend of mine who was in town for two days on business. Despite the heat we went to Souq Waqif and had iftar at Damasca. The restaurant did a cool thing where all the mezzahs were already on the table so you could start eating right away. However, as usual for iftars at restaurants, it was too much food. We chilled out afterwards at one of the juice stalls.

Moving on to what I did today. After work I had a nap and got up in time to head back down to the Corniche to take pictures of the cars that were cruising the street before iftar.

Lots of people came down to take pictures of the cars.

There were some nice expensive cars . . .

Older cars . . .

Brightly painted cars . . .

Cars with kids hanging out of them . . .

Sometimes cars of the same make and model would group together and go in a line . . .

other random vehicles . . .

And midget dictators ;)

Try to get there a little bit before 5 to get a spot to take pictures. Near the Commercial Bank Tower is a good viewing spot.


Hadith(s) of the Day

Finger licking good . . .

Ka’b bin Malik reported: the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to eat using three fingers and used to lick his fingers before wiping them. (Sahih Muslim, Book of Food)

Ibn ‘Abbas said: the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "When you eat, do not wipe your hands until you have licked it, or had it licked by someone else.” (Sahih Muslim, Book of Food)

In the West we call it the 5-Second rule . . .

Jabir reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: "Satan attends all of your affairs, even your food. When some of your food falls on the ground, one should remove the soiling from it and then eat it. He should not leave it for Satan. When you finish eating, lick your fingers . . . .” (Sahih Muslim, Book of Food)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 6

So what happened the Day 5? In truth it wasn't my intention to post something every day. There's some days that nothing exciting is going to happen, and who wants to read a blog with things like "I did some laundry and put carrots in a soup”. (Wow! Tell me more!)

That said, yesterday wasn't one of those days. In fact it was so busy I just didn't have enough time to post.

I got a call that day from one of my friends and we agreed to have iftar at my place. So after my nap I had to tidy up my place and get everything ready: soup, bread, cheese etc., nothing heavy. He came over and we had Iftar and chatted for about an hour and a half until it was time for him to go to Tarawih prayers. We agreed to meet for dinner at around 9:30, which gave me time to quickly go to the barber while he was at prayer and then I met him at Al-Khaima restaurant in Al Sadd.

While there another friend of mine called asking if I wanted to go to the furniture souqs with him in Muntazah because he was shopping for stuff for a villa so he stopped by the restaurant around 11:30 and off we went to the furniture souqs. We left there by 1am yet most of the shops there were still open and doing brisk business. I didn't get home until 1:30am.

My friend said he doesn't usually go to sleep until after the morning prayers, maybe around 4am. I don't think I can shift my clock quite that far. I did have work the next day and I just don't think I could function on a couple of hours sleep. Even then my nap today was two and half hours.

There's some activities tonight too, had do to do up this post before I head out.


Hadith of the Day

On fancy clothes and utensils:

‘Abdullah bin ‘Ukaim reported: While Hudhaifah was at Medina he asked for water. The chief of the village brought him a silver vessel. Hudhaifah threw it away and said, "I have thrown it away because I told him not to use it, but he has not stopped using it." The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Do not use close of silk or dibaj [another kind of silk], and do not drink in gold or silver utensils. These things are for them [disbelievers] in this world and for you in the Hereafter.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Drinks)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 4

So dohanews.co published my article about why I fast during Ramadan. They originally wanted about 250-300 words (that’s not much, it wasn’t easy to keep it even to 350) but then later asked if they could add in some items from my “Ramadan 2012 – Day 2” post so the article wound up being a bit longer because it’s a combination of an article and a blog post.

Iftar tonight was a leftover pizza. I went out last night around 11:30 to one of my favorite pizza places (Ciao on Salwa Road) for dinner. I noticed they had a dish I hadn't tried before “Focaccia Tri Colere” (sp?) so I ordered that as an appetizer along with a pizza. The Focaccia turned out to be way bigger than I expected, and my stomach was definitely a bit smaller than usual, so by the time I finished the Focaccia I was full. It was too late to cancel the pizza so I just had it boxed up for take-away.

After dinner I drove around a bit to see the neighborhood as it had been a while since I'd been out there. Traffic was pretty heavy considering it was 12:30 in the morning. Then again some of my Qatari friends apparently don't go to bed until 4:30 or 5:00am so it shouldn't be too surprising the city is still busy that late.

Plans for this evening fell through so I did some grocery shopping. The traffic on the roads was really light around 7:30pm so getting to the grocery store was easy. By around 8:20pm traffic and parking etc. had started to pick up and it was a bit more of a pain getting back home. Try to get out before 8:00 to beat the rush everyone!

Speaking of traffic I forgot to mention that while the morning commute was really smooth the traffic gets congested in West Bay around 12:30 to 1:30 as all of the Ministries and many other offices close. It clears up by 2:00.


Hadith(s) of the Day.

Three Hadiths, one theme -- On selling dates and other fruits

Jabir bin Abdullah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited selling unweighed dates or dates of unknown measure. (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Bartering)

Jabir narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade the selling of fruits until they ripen. (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Bartering)

Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade the sale of dates until they turn yellow or reddish and become fit for eating and also the sale of crops until its grain hardens. (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Bartering)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 3

Today was the first day of work during Ramadan. The biggest surprise was the traffic, it was way lighter than usual. My average commute when the schools are in session is about 25 minutes, during the summer about 15 minutes, today it was 10.

Because it is Ramadan most offices work reduced hours because a lot of the staff are fasting. It looks like most people have shifted their start times to later in the morning. Usually it can be difficult to get parking near the office but today there was also a lot more parking available when I arrived. However I looked out the window around 9:00am and the parking was as bad as usual.

Like I mentioned before for me it is important to stay distracted to get through fasting. Last thing you need is just to be sitting around bored thinking about food and how hungry you are. So surprisingly working is actually a good thing when you're fasting -- keeps you busy and helps the day pass. After work I came home, did a couple of chores, read some hadiths, and then had a nap. Well, the plan was to have a nap, instead I slept 2 1/2 hours! Woke up in time to start my iftar preparations. I think I will set an alarm from now on.

Long naps are probably a good thing though because I'm starting to book my social calendar and everything will take place late in the evening. Meeting friends at a café? Probably starting around 10pm. Going to play squash? We will probably get a court at 11pm. Inviting people over for a meal? Most people will come by no earlier than 10:30-11:00pm. That's just how it is with Muslim friends during Ramadan. I can expect to be getting maybe 5-6 hours sleep a night.

Tonight I changed my Iftar meal, I fried up a bit of green pepper and onion with an egg. Nothing big. Seems to have worked, I don't feel overly full.

Last night I was at Souq Waqif but the crowds were definitely a lot thinner than usual. Not surprising I suppose -- it's freaking hot outside! By the time I got home I was sweating up a storm.

Tonight I'm going to meet up with some friends at a café. Hopefully indoors.


Hadith of the Day

Apparently you shouldn’t rent farmland

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "whoever has land, should cultivate it himself or give it to his [Muslim] brother to cultivate. He should not rent it." (Sahih Muslim, Book of Farming)

But wait, don't Muslims rent land?? Well, . . . .

‘Amr reported: I said to Tawus, "I wish that you give up Mukhabarah (sharecropping) , for the people say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade it." Tawus replied, "O ‘Amr! The most knowledgeable of them told me that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not forbid but said: "it is more beneficial for one to give his land free to one's brother then to charge him a fixed rental.”

Seems contradictory, right? Well, this is where scholars have to wade in. According to another hadith the common way to rent land was that the renter had to give the landlord the produce from the plants closer to the water, so in many cases the renter might be left with very little as the plants farther away from the water produced less. The Prophet (peace be upon him) may have been referring to this kind of rental arrangement when noting it shouldn’t be done.

Sometimes hadiths are not as straightforward as they appear. . .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 2

So maybe the fact that I got full sooner than expected at yesterday's Iftar is a common thing. One of the papers has reported a couple hundred people went to the hospital last night for stomach troubles. Gotta start taking it easier I guess.

The problem is that once you break the fast and start eating it's difficult to stop. You will eat everything that's around. This is why I've been trying to have Iftar at home as much as possible where I can control the portion size. Two years ago I was always going out with friends to restaurants and wound up stuffing my face. The downside of being at home though is once I finish my food I start raiding the fridge.

Tonight I still feel like I ate too much, I'll try to have even less tomorrow.

I got a call around 5pm from a Qatari friend of mine to go with a buddy of his to the Corniche and drive around. There was even more people out this time and lot of people had brought out their flashy cars for the occasion. It sort of looked like a car show. My friend said that over the next couple weeks it will probably get even busier.

So for those of you who want to see it had down to the Corniche from five o'clock onward. The area between the post office and the Sheraton seemed to be where everyone was hanging out.


More Hadiths!

Some Westerners always wonder, do Muslim religious leaders ever embrace celibacy?

Anas reported . . . the Prophet (peace be upon him) praised Allah and glorified Him, and said: "Why some people say such and such things [celibacy, fasting through the night . . .etc]; but I perform prayer in sleep, I observe fast and I do not, and I marry women. He who turns away from my Sunnah, is not from me (i.e., not a follower).” (Sahih Muslim, Book of Marriage)

What is an unmarried young man to do . . .

Alqamah reported: . . . the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "O young men, those of you who can afford marriage, let them do so, for it restrains eyes, and preserves chastity; but he who cannot afford it, he should observe fasting for it works like castration." (Sahih Muslim, Book of Marriage)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan 2012 – Day 1

I woke up around 3:10am, had the food and drinks that I kept on my nightstand, then went back to sleep until around 8.

In some ways weekends are the toughest when fasting. During the week I’m at work so that can keep me distracted but on the weekend I have to come up with things that keep me busy yet keep me away from food and drink yet not be outside (way too hot out there and I can't drink water while fasting).

So after surfing the net at home I went to work to get a bit done there and got back home around 2:30, which meant it was time for a nap. I felt hungry around 12 but the feeling passed after a while. I slept for about an hour and a half and did some chores around the house to pass the time.

A Qatari friend of mine mentioned something that locals like to do just before iftar is called -- drive around the Corniche. He says loads of Qataris do that. So around five o'clock I got in the car and headed to the Corniche. Here's what I saw:

My friend wasn't kidding, parts of the Corniche were gridlocked! There were even cops at some of the roundabouts directing the traffic. I drove around for a while but since I was on my own doing laps of the Corniche wasn't all that exciting. That was okay because it was time to go home to prepare food.

I chopped up some vegetables and got a soup ready and laid out three dates with a glass of water (traditionally you should break the fast with three dates). I had the television on Qatar TV to catch the time when you could break the fast but it wasn't necessary as the nearby mosque started a prayer at the same time. I couldn't finish the soup because I got full pretty quickly, this kind of surprised me as I've never had this issue before -- maybe my stomach shrunk a little from the fasting or it was full with the glass of water I had.

So all in all it wasn't too bad. No caffeine withdrawl, no desparate hunger.

Anyway it's 9:30pm, time to hit the town.


Hadiths of the Day:

What if you accidentally eat or drink something?

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: "He who eats and drinks forgetting that he is fasting, let him continue observing fasting, for it is Allah Who gave him to eat and drink." (Sahih Muslim, Book of Fasting)

I’ll leave you to look up "Junub" . . .

Aishah narrated that a man came to the Prophet asking for a fatwa. While she was listening from the behind the door, he said: "O Messenger of Allah, (the time) of prayer overtakes me while I am Junub; should I observe fast?" The Messenger of Allah said: "This too happens to me, and I still observe fast." . . . . (Sahih Muslim, Book of Fasting)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ramadan 2012 Has Begun!

Here I thought it would be called tomorrow night but as I was sitting with a friend at a café having mocktails (I'm off the caffeine, remember) when he got a message on his Blackberry and said, “Ramadan has been called!”

Apparently Ramadan has been called in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait as well.

So after we finished at the café it was off to a grocery store for supplies. I picked up some cheese and laban for my pre-dawn meal, I have the rest of the food so I'm set.

My friend is going to have a cranky weekend; he is not off the caffeine and he smokes (which you can’t do during the day either) so tomorrow he's going to be fasting, going through caffeine withdrawal, and nicotine withdrawal. Yow.

According to my Ramadan prayer guide fasting starts tomorrow at 3:28am and finishes at 6:27pm. 15 hours of fasting!

Let's see how it goes this year. Ramadan Kareem everyone!


(The first hadith I want to share is small so I'll give you two hadiths)

On women in mosques:

Zainab Ath-Thaqafiyah narrated: the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to us: “When one of you comes to the mosque, let her not wear perfume.” (Sahih Muslim, Book of As-Salat)

On eating garlic:

Ibn ‘Umar narrated that during the battle of Khaibar the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "He who eats from this plant (i.e., garlic), let him not go to mosques.” (Sahih Muslim, Book of As-Salat)

[There's actually three different hadiths about eating onions and garlic and not going to mosques. It appears that smelling of onions and garlic is a no-no.]

Monday, July 16, 2012


Need to stock up on some dates for Ramadan. Last year I bought a variety from the supermarket but there are other options:

There's a few shops in Souq Waqif that sell dates. They are behind some of the restaurants like Le Gourmet, facing the parking lot. I have picked up dates there a few times; or

a Qatari friend of mine recommended a place that he goes to for dates, a place near Burger King roundabout

They carry a wide selection of dates as well as decorative platters and other things you can use for them, much like a chocolate shop.

One of the advantages of date stores like Al Qaseem or the ones in Souq Waqif is that you can sample all the varieties and then buy the ones you like. There are many different varieties of dates – Al Qaseem had over a dozen.

Ultimately I picked up some Khudri dates, a variety I never tried before called Sultani, and of course some Ajwa dates. Ajwas are the most expensive, in part because they are specifically mentioned in hadiths as providing health benefits, but I like their flavor. I didn't order a lot of them though – at QAR 180 a kilo they are up to three times as expensive as some other varieties.


Hadith of the day:

Abu Harairah narrated that the Prophet said: “When any one of you wake up, let him not put his hands in the food plate until he washes it three times, for he does not know where his hand was [while he was asleep].” Sahih Muslim, Book of Wudu.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ramadan Approaches

Ramadan is about a week away so it's time to start getting ready. Like previous years I too will be fasting (for previous years see the Ramadan category on the right-hand side for more information, or click on “Ramadan” at the bottom of this post). So that means a few preparations.

1) Get off the caffeine

During the fast you are not allowed to eat or drink anything during the day, even water. For someone who likes coffee that's a surefire way to have a splitting headache if you don't wean yourself off the caffeine in advance. At work I used to drink 4 cups a day (cups, not mugs, not grande lattes from a coffee shop, cups), now I'm down to two and on Sunday the plan is to move to one coffee in the morning and a decaf in the afternoon.

Caffeine withdrawal can be nasty if you go cold turkey but thankfully you can get off caffeine without headaches or illness by slowly reducing your intake over a couple of weeks. I've done this the last couple of years without any problems.

2) Get some Islamic reading material

It is customary for a Muslim to read the entire Qur’an during Ramadan, which can be done at any time though some do it as part of Tarawih prayers.

Now I have read the Qur'an a couple of times, and have occasionally referred to it over the years but I also like reading hadiths. I own a copy of the Bukhari Hadiths that I purchased a few years ago.

I found many of the hadiths in the book really interesting. You see, many of the traditions we associate with Muslims (such as men can't wear gold) aren't actually mentioned in the Qur’an -- they come from the hadiths. I was surprised when I first read the Qur’an at how few rules there were actually in it.

So this Ramadan I decided to expand my reading and picked up:

A summary of the Al-Muslim Hadiths (2 volumes), another significant Islamic work. Like the Bukhari Hadiths the Al-Muslim Hadiths are generally accepted by all Sunni Muslims so I’m hoping to find yet more interesting rules and etiquettes. I'll post some of the more interesting findings as I read through them.

3) Get a paper that outlines the prayer times.

I'm not Muslim (nor do I play one on TV :p ) so I'm not praying five times a day, but you need to have an idea of when the fasting starts and when you can break the fast. Cards outlining the prayer times are handy for that. It is likely I'll be waking up around 3am to have my final meal then fasting until about 6:20pm but because the timings are based around sunrise and sunset the exact timing slowly changes over the course of the month.

4) Stock up on essential food

There are a number of items that I need for the Ramadan meals. Dates are important, traditionally you break your fast with three dates, and my 3am meal always consists of cereal, nuts, dates, cheese, and laban.

Thankfully the Government subsidizes the pricing on a number of key items during Ramadan and mandates the prices that they can be sold in the stores, to prevent price gouging.

Not sure yet what I'm going to be doing for Iftar meals but I will plan something small. If I can do this Ramadan thing properly it should also be a good way to lose weight.

So I have about a week ago, like previous year is almost frequently about how it's going.

Monday, July 09, 2012

City Center Mall has Reopened!

As reported by both a coworker of mine who went over there, me seeing that the security stopping cars is now gone, and a report on dohanews, the mall is open now, though on such short notice many of the stores will not be open tonight. The Mall should be open as normal tomorrow.

Spread the news!

Sunday, July 08, 2012


One of my favorite things to wear is baseball caps. Not sure why, maybe it's a Canadian thing, but I started wearing them as a teenager and never looked back. I recall years ago I was with a bunch of people, playing some card games in a game store where I been hanging out for a year or so, and I had removed my cap to scratch my head when a girl there suddenly said, "Hey! You're not bald!” . . . . No, I’m not (see picture - - - ->), but it turns out I wore a baseball cap every time she saw me so she assumed I was bald and trying to hide it.

So of course here in Doha I wear caps in the evenings and weekends. I was out with some friends a little while ago and one asked if I was wearing a new cap. I said no and he was a bit surprised. “I haven't seen that one before -- how many baseball caps do you have?”. Good question.

It turns out, 11.

I was a bit surprised myself that I had that many. Granted, there are some I don't wear that often (for example I try not to wear the Corona one in Qatar) but I had more than I thought.

More surprising was just how many were distinctly Canadian:

Have you ever heard that old stereotype that Canadians sew little Canadian flags onto their backpacks and jackets so that people won't think they're American? I didn't think much of the stereotype, though in truth my father did do that when traveling, but I was surprised at just how many caps I had that either screamed "Canadian!" or would have been recognized by a Canadian because they were Canadian sports teams.

Not that wearing the caps is a bad thing. Occasionally people will recognize whatever logo is on the cap and say hi. I remember when I was at a gelato stand in Bergamo, Italy and the store owner recognized my Vancouver Canucks cap! Turns out he was a big fan and was telling me how lots of people in northern Italy follow the NHL. Who knew?

City Center Mall Update -- July 8

I checked this afternoon (the office is near there). Still closed.

Friday, July 06, 2012

City Centre Update - July 6th

It's 3:15pm on Friday, July 6th and City Centre is still closed. Security is still turning cars away.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

City Centre Mall update

It's Thursday at 1:30pm and City Centre Mall is still closed. We might be looking at another weekend without City Centre.

With the dust storm today and City Centre closed I think I'll just stay home tonight instead of braving the crowds at the other malls.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Air Ticket Prices

The Gulf Times has an article about the sudden rise in airfare prices now that it is peak season. This is timely as I've just had a similar experience with airfares myself.

But first just to give you an idea of how much the airfares have gone up, the article mentions that Doha-London return is QR 5,300 (~$1,450). My winter trips to Canada, typically Doha-London, London-Vancouver, are around QR 5,600-6,000 for the entire trip. . . and London-Vancouver is the longer leg of the two.

Doha-Paris now at QR 5,600 (~$1,525)? Typically it would be around QR 4,000 (~$1,100).

Now for my story, a few weeks ago my friend Murat wanted to take his wife to London for Eid and since he's never been there before, but I have, we were all going to go together and I would show them around. Well the prices for the air tickets were outrageous and we figured out that the trip would be over his budget so we cancelled those plans. Instead he invited me to travel with them to Turkey where he could show me around. Sounds like a plan to me!

So earlier this week I went online to look at tickets to Istanbul and found that the day I wanted to travel (and the following day) was already sold out -- nearly two months in advance. And tickets on the days around when I wanted to travel were going to cost QR 4,600 (~$1,225). WTH, it's not even a four-hour flight!

So I told my friend Murat and he suggested we look at flights to Ankara. It'll be a bit farther drive to get to his hometown (extra four hours) but maybe flights are available on the day we want and he has some relatives in Ankara as well.

Sure enough, there were flights available on any of the days. And the price? QR 2,800! (~$750) For a flight of nearly the same distance.

Okay I realize that supply and demand might create a price increase but what some of these airlines try to get away with is outrageous. $500 difference in price for going to a different city nearby? Why!?

Anyway, if you're planning to go to Turkey on vacation this summer think about flying to Ankara instead of Istanbul.