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Ramadan Kareem!

Just want to say a quick but heartfelt, "Ramadan kareem!" to my Muslim readers.  For those who may not be familiar with this pillar of Islam, my blog of last year offers a brief explanation. 

It's the first day of Ramadan in Jordan and, since the holy month commences in accordance with the lunar calendar, I'm not sure whether it's begun yet in Algeria or India or other countries represented here in the RR.

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To you too.

In Algeria,Ramadhan is today August 22.Sumathi wished a happy Ramadhan to me today and said it will begin tomorrow (August 23) in India.

For those who do not know about it,they should understand that fasting during Ramadan applies to all aspects of one's life, not just the physical. In addition to refraining from food and drink, Muslims must also avoid sexual relations with their spouses, smoking, becoming angry or showing ill will toward others by word or deed.
It is a month of self-purification.

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Yes, it's a dawn to dusk

Yes, it's a dawn to dusk fast, not just from food and beverage, but from other basic needs.  The idea is to have a month-long physical and spiritual cleanse.

So, are you observant, Abdelwahab?  Is it difficult to get started each year?  I found abstaining from fluids extremely difficult.  Just couldn't cut it.  But I did find the routine very similar to that of Lent in Catholicism.  Catholics don't do a complete dawn-to-dusk fast, but we are expected to give up something we love (often, for kids, it's candy; for adults, something more difficult) and do extra spiritual work on ourselves and good deeds for others during Lent.  It lasts a couple weeks longer than Ramadan, so the length sort of offsets the easier terms.

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Hi Ellen

I do observe Ramadan every year. As everything in religion,if you do not have faith,it is hard to follow any recommendation.You said:

"The idea is to have a month-long physical and spiritual cleanse." People around the world are now paying specialized coach to help them in this process.

I do it freely  and willingly.

I think all holy books,including Torah, Gospel,Koran have the same Origin.

For you,if you want to try,it will be a real challenge .Experiencing what other feel while fasting a day from dawn to dusk. But when there is a will,there is a way!

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Oh, I've done it,

Oh, I've done it, Abdelwahab, all five years after 9/11.  I found the length easier to handle than that of Lent, but the fluids. . .extremely difficult.  The food part wasn't so hard for me, as I always skip breakfast and often work through lunch, anyway.  So it was the fluids that posed the challenge.  And, in fact, it was easier for me to do it in Jordan than in the U.S., because the entire country shuts down and makes all kinds of allowances for people.  In fact, that kind of surprised me.  People work only about five hours a day, restaurants shut down, non Muslims are advised not to eat or drink in public or in front of any observers, and so the entire system softens for that one month.  One of my Muslim friends told me the feeding frenzy after dusk has become so extreme that people actually gain weight during Ramadan.  :-)

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Happy Ramadan

The Ramadan has started here. My friends and students here are fasting. I feel sorry for the kids though, abstaining from fluids. The swine flu is catching up, and one has to consume as much liquid as possible to run out the toxin in the body. The precautionary measures that we are all advised to follow. A day without fulids makes them limp. I m concerned, yes.
Abdel did invite me yesterday to start fasting with him, and I liked his invitation. I would have happily joined him if not for my fragile health, hopefully next year. Amin!

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Hi Suma

But it is said in the holy Koran that if one among you is sick or travelling,he must postpone the fasting until hes gets better or comes back home.

So you see,fasting is not intented to harm anyone.People with chronic diseases are allowed not to fast on condition to feed a poor every day. 

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[Nods in agreement with

[Nods in agreement with Abdelwahab.]  I think the children at risk of getting swine flu could easily be forgiven for keeping up their intakes of fluids.

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I wish somebody suggested

I wish somebody suggested that to them.........regarding the fluids. Today a student came running to me. She was scolded by her language teacher. She was in tears and her mouth dry she could not speak to me the reason. I asked her to calm down and take a glass of water.(momentarily I forgot all about the fasting) Her friends then explained that she is fasting and the reason behind her woe. I am generally soft with my students , try to understand their feelings and teach them to think in solutions.

Ellen it took me some time to calm her down with soothing words, all the while wishing against wishes, to offer her a glass of water. Sigh!!!

I don't appreciate such hard and fast rules on kids, there should be an alternative.

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Well, I suppose you aren't

Well, I suppose you aren't really in a position to go against parental wishes.  But I've been told by some descendents of the Prophet that the fasting of Ramadan isn't meant to be undertaken by people in fragile health, travelers, and other "handicapped" categories of people.  And I would think children at reasonably high risk of contracting swine flu would fall into that first category.  But I am like you. . .a bit soft on matters that involve compassionate treatment of living things.  The scene you just described is rather heartbreaking.

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Dear Ellen

I admire your strife for tolerance around the world. It deserves all our respect.

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Thanks, Abdelwahab.  Means

Thanks, Abdelwahab.  Means a lot coming from you.  :-)

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Ellen, I take the greetings

Ellen, I take the greetings as an acceptance of where I belong. One part of my identity. I have written something - and it is a different POV. Had posted it elsewhere already. My relatives do fast and pray. And yet we look pretty much like relatives!


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Ellen, The photo is


The photo is majestic. It's truly arabesque, and the sounds of those words, Ramadan, Kareem, and Mashallah, too.
I was surprised to see the empty comment section of your last Sept. post.

Thank you for letting us know the important custom and day.

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Hi Keiko

People raised in wisdom know where wisdom dwells and can understand beyond the words.

May I say to you happy Ramadan too? 

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I love the overall shape and

I love the overall shape and look of mosques.  Yes, majestic and arabesque.  You can probably guess that words like inshallah and mashallah, which are interjected in the daily speech of most Arabs, have as roots the word Allah.

I think the empty comment section from last year shows how much the RR has grown in the last year or so.  It has taken a while for people to come on board and actively participate.

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Yes, Ellen, I thought it

Yes, Ellen, I thought it shows the history of RR and us.

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Do you mean we are making the History of RR?

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It seems to me that those of

It seems to me that those of us who have found each other here have become like our own little apolitical (in a good way!) United Nations.  We care about some big issues, we like discussing them, but we don't get into any pissing matches with each other.  (Pardon the language.)  It's all quite civilized and respectful.

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I think it does, indeed,

I think it does, indeed, Keiko.  When I first joined the RR, I could see that there were other members, but there wasn't much interaction.  I felt like I was blogging to myself a lot of the time.  :-)  Yet I could see there were lurkers, so I just kept on.

I am really glad to have the participation of you and all the others who chime in (don't want to start naming names, lest I forget someone and hurt any feelings).  It's been an enriching experience.  I learn a lot from y'all.

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Abdelwahab, If you don't


If you don't agree, at least a part of the history?



Maybe we start a quiet revolution here.  We gather and think and speak up in a safe environment.  I'm all for it.   This is the first time in my life that I can speak my mind this much and be able to ask so many questions and received courageous answers.


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OK with me, and you've just

OK with me, and you've just fired the first shot in the quiet revolution.  Maybe we can recreate/update 17th-century salon culture in France, only this time have it be global, cyber, and oblivious to social class.

You are very modest about your abilities and contributions, Keiko.  You have a very keen mind, and it is wonderful that you are learning to speak it in this relatively safe, conducive environment.

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Not to butt in...


Um, that was me, excited by the idea. Sorry for shouting. :) As far as I'm concerned, you wonderful people already are the 21st-century equivalent.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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Glad for the enthusiasm,

Glad for the enthusiasm, Huntington!  So we can count you in.  That makes Keiko, you, me. . .any others?

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A hand shot up!

And as Lady Ellen looked around......" Me too!" ....said Sumathi. (n winks at her)smiles!


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Thank you, Ellen.  And

Thank you, Ellen.  And thank you all.  Now when I have questions, I can count on RR to discuss them.  The French Salon of 17th century sounds arabesque.  Our salon  will be classy without classes.

About fasting, thank you Mares and Sue for bringing up the other side of this important issues.  Like berries, we have to look from all angles.    I was thinking that I could use one day diet for my mid-section to avoid looking like a fabled Japanese racoon.  How selfish of me.  How fast I forget about rearing my kids.


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I´m in, as long as I don´t

I´m in, as long as I don´t have to wear a wig and a corset. :-D


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What a great metaphor, no

What a great metaphor, no wig or corset!

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No uncomfy clothing

No uncomfy clothing requirements, Luciana.

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Classy without classes,

Classy without classes, great!  I think true class has nothing to do with socioeconomics.

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OK Keiko

Welcome on Planet RR to continue your quiet revolution.I'm sure the world will be a better place to live in for all of us.I fully agree with you.

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Abdelwahab and all, Happy

Abdelwahab and all,

Happy Ramadan!

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I´ve been learning so much

I´ve been learning so much about humanity/culture in these blogs here at RR,and in the interaction that follows, that I can honestly say I´m not the same person as I was one year ago. Hammoudi, Ellen, Sumathi, Farzana, Keiko, and so many others, Mary, Dr. Jitu, Jodi, Sue, Rebbecca, Oswald ... the list goes on and on. I humbly thank you for sharing so much. :-)

Ellen, dear, you´re a jewel!

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Same with me, Lu, and I've

Same with me, Lu, and I've always loved learning about other cultures, other cuisines, other ways of thinking about and looking at things, so these discussions are right up my alley.

You know I think the world of you, Lu, and as I have some knowledge--not a lot--of Brazilian life and culture, I am always keen to read about your thoughts and observations and add them to my little warehouse of knowledge.

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Ah Luci, I cherish reading these compliments from friends here.

Like you said, Even I feel the same, I have been enlightened by all of you! and I am so very grateful being here in all your lovely lovely company. I feel now I have a family all across the world who think l like me and are concerned like me, who accept me as I am, who support me  in times of adversity. I am so blessed , having all of you with me.....Ah! .." When the heart is full words are few!"

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Hi All, the conversation

Hi All, the conversation above is riveting as always but I must say fasting and abstinence when one is unable to function properly seems to me, to be completely crazy. Am I the only person who thinks this? Sorry if I appear to contradict the flow but I have to voice my amazement that even if people are dying of thirst they are forbidden to drink or if swine flu is imminent, it still appears to be ignored in the face of a belief!

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Mares, I don't think this is

Mares, I don't think this is as it's supposed to be.  Vulnerable groups are not supposed to be fasting.  In Jordan, young children are not usually part of this.  There are some descendents of the Prophet--they're called sharifs and sharifas, in case I ever use those terms--I know who say they believe people like airline pilots, surgeons, and others who have the lives and fates of others in their hands should not be participating.

Also, the Muslims who observe the full fast every day are taught how to do it.  For example, they get up just before the sun rises to eat a full meal and flush their systems with fluids, then go back to bed until it's time to get up for good.  Then, as the sun starts to set in the evening, most of them have their meals prepared and ready to go.  When the imam gives the signal, they start in with maybe a fruit beverage and some dates.  After those settle in, they up the caloric and fluid intakes.  And they keep this up until all hours of the night.  It's almost as though they are flipping daytime into night and vice versa.  Some binge big-time and actually gain weight during Ramadan, but this isn't really advisable.

I think a huge part of the reason I could not get through the day without fluids is because I didn't set my alarm clock to rise before dawn and fill myself with fluids, nor did I avoid the mid-day sun, nor did I get the proper training.  I was just trying it to see if I could do it.  I could do all of it except the fluids, but that is a big exception.  Also, if I were a smoker, I probably wouldn't have been able to go cold turkey.  The smokers are expected to give up the ciggies and the narghila (water pipes) during daylight hours.

Maybe Abdelwahab could explain his techniques for getting through the fast.  I'm sure it would be enlightening for those who've never even attempted such a thing.

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Mares, here's a

Mares, here's a decent article by an Arab nutritionist about how to eat well during a Ramadan iftar (i.e., breaking of the fast as the sun goes down):


As you can see, it's quite healthy, and the soups in the Middle East tend to be nutritious meals unto themselves, as they are filled with lentils and veggies and the broths can be quite thick.  I was once invited to a private iftar at one of the Jordanian palaces, and this was pretty much how it went.  Dates and fruit juice to get the system going, followed by a thick lentil soup, followed by a salad, then a full meal, then Arab pastries (think baklava-type sweets).

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I'm reading about Ramadan,

I'm reading about Ramadan, but I tend to enjoy this part about Arab pastries.  I used to shop baklava and nuts and olives and figs near Fairfax of Los Angeles.  The owner's wife was Japanese.  We were both surprised that in the middle of Jewish district, we could communicate in Japanese.  I love their almonds covered with sweet yogurt coating.  They are colorful.  I used to buy bunches of them to bring them back to Japan on a yearly visit.  The price was right and they were healthy.  I miss her and the shop and all the lunches I had there.  Middle Eastern foods are my favorite.


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I think the Mediterranean

I think the Mediterranean pastries are delicious, but I ate so many of them on my first visits that I lost my appetite for them after a while.  :-)  The one thing I am still looking to find in America is the perfect hummus and a nice, whole wheat flat bread.  None of the ones I've tried is anywhere near as fresh and tasty as the ones I could find in Amman.  In general, I find the Middle Eastern diet very healthy and good for the figure.

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I would rather learn from you.Concerning the fasting,you just reset your biological clock so it works with new conditions.
The human body has this peculiarity to adapt to all situations.
People who fast are prepared for hard times if ever there is a famine,food shortage,draught ,war or any other natural calamity.
I think,that as in any other human endeavor,if there is not faith behind,it is going to be a tough thing to achieve.
Think a little,did you achieve any project or task in which you do not believe?
It is said that FAITH moves mountains.I believe that.Firm belief makes things easier.This is the secret.

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In other words. . .you think

In other words. . .you think you can do it, and so you can?

That's a great connection you make, Abdelwahab, between sticking with the physical sacrifices of Ramadan and sticking with anything in life that presents a challenge.

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That's a great connection

That's a great connection you made to life, Abdel...the faith

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As a Christian, I would not want to impose fasting on a child. In fact, I have been taught that one should keep one's fasting a secret from others--so no one knows you are fasting. I can understand a teacher's delimma, however, in both wanting a student to be healthy and comfortable to be able to learn and yet not wanting to undermine the student's parents--their security in this life. Maybe more people need to learn what Ellen has explained that some sharifs and sharifas teach. But that long-range solution does not help Sumathi with her problem now. Oh dear, our unofficial United Nations isn't as capable as we might wish!

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Many families introduce the

Many families introduce the fasting to their children gradually.  Maybe one year, when they are about 10 or 11 and curious about it, the parents will let them forgo a meal.  And, based on how that goes, the next year they might step it up.  It is sort of like the hijab (i.e., the head covering) is for younger girls.  Children are not expected to wear them.  Only after puberty does it become a bigger issue for consideration.

It would be nice if the imams, who have such influence over the observant Muslims, would preach about the exceptions to fasting during Ramadan.  It is not meant to be cruel or torturous for anyone. . .there are allowances for the young, the infirm, the traveling, etc.

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Nothing has been left untreated by the Ulemas.They found for every problem the adequate solution.

Concerning the kids, often they fast,while still too young,against the will of their parents. Many parents beg their children to wait until they grow up but soon give up because of the kids'strong will.

As far I know it here in Algeria,kids are not forced to fast.They fast  only if they feel themselves capable of it. 

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Thanks for your

Thanks for your clarification, Abdelwahab.  Children everywhere seem inclined to want to grow up too soon!

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You hit the nail Ellen...

You hit the nail Ellen... Bang! Bang!

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Well, I was once one of

Well, I was once one of them.  I remember begging--begging!--for permission to shave my legs.  Then, when I finally got the OK, I hacked them up so badly because I didn't know what I was doing, giving new meaning to the word bloodbath.  :-D

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tnx for response Sue,

Thank you Sue, for thinking of my problem that I am facing...everyday these days, sleepy children, tired children, and the mental work they have to do minus fluids.,,, they also play and tire themselves further. This is the first time I felt you have been reading me. We have never commented directly on anything , so I did not feel connected to you ever..but now I feel different about you..tnx for that! Happy Ramadan to you! I wish someone from U N was a member here reading our concern and discussions.........! I wish this on Ramadan!

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I second that wish,

I second that wish, Sumathi.  I would especially love it if the human rights folks would step up, but most of them represent countries that are major violators.  :-(