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Ramzan is more than looking for the moon

Why are Indians saying 'Ramadan'? It was always Ramzan for me. I don’t follow any Muslim rules this month, so why do I mind at all by what name it is called? Because it infringes on a cultural attuning. It is an Arabic word.

I do not fast. It isn’t for 'unreligious' reasons. It is a personal choice. If I feel like doing it, then I will. I respect people's beliefs; they ought to respect my space.

However, the build-up does bother me. I do not like to be inundated with emails from strangers sending long posts on various religious verses and what they mean and how we can be saved by them. I suggest they send them to the embassies of several nations that believe it is their birthright to rule and subjugate people. Send them to those who create havoc in the name of faith. Send them to characters who taint the religion.

These people, in their enthusiasm to be carriers of the religion, end up as irritants and as a result those verses that might have been beautiful and conveyed a lot are sent straight to my junk box. We all have our values and there is no way for me to ascertain that the people sending me those precious words fit into any ethical belief system that I hold dear.

This month is to replenish your inner resources and abstain, so I hope they'd stop spamming. I don’t have a handy hadith for that, but am sure there must be something.

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The new Islamists may abhor music, but the qawwali can be an uplifting experience irrespective of anything else. I remember visiting the Nizamuddin dargah only to listen to the qawwals. Of course, I refer here to the ones that convey oneness with a Being outside oneself. Or perhaps deep within.

The music is structured, its repetitive enunciation like the drones of bees near a honeycomb waiting to taste what they have created. That is the essence. Look inside and feel before you can go outside and seek. You could feel a tremor or a touch. I do not buy the ‘unfeeling’ state.

You may deny your body food and water, but the hunger and thirst for reaching bliss has got to be there.

And bliss is when you hear words like:

Piye jo sharaab-e-ishq–e-Nabi
Marta ho tau jeena aa jaaye

(The one who is drunk on the love of the Prophet
Learns to live even as he is dying)

Whatever you believe in and whatever figure/idea/thought you replace, there is a sense of rejuvenation. Religion is incidental; it is a ritual of your belonging. How sublime it is to hear two people, not of the faith, singing to be one with the Nabi of another.

It is not literal and that is how it should be. We stuff our faces with what we think is religiosity and never fathom the reasons why.

It is like crushing roses. You will get your fragrance, but the flowers will be dead.

Live, instead.

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The Qawwali by Shankar-Shambhu...it takes patience and time. And unless one knows the language may not have any appeal. These were simpler times; it was recorded in the early 60s...

- - -

I had written another sort of Eid blog here.

Comments
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Happy Ramzan to you Farzana

Ramadan or Ramzan, there is no hard and fast rule that Indian should not say Ramadan or is it there? I don't know! For me either way it is the name, as I am not bound by boundaries or nationalism or any ism.

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Had it been about rules, I'd

Had it been about rules, I'd have broken them long ago. I not only do not believe in 'isms' but Practise it in my life on a daily basis. Had you read the entire post, Sumathi, it might have come through. The term 'Ramzan' is what one grew up with and I wonder why Indian Muslims have to change that. Other Indians doing so would surprise me at another level since they are brainwashed by rightwing parties to get paranoid about Arabs.

Btw, you did mention about how Muslim children have to read Urdu verses in religious schools. You noticed that 'difference'. However, thank you for the wishes and as I told Ellen elsewhere this is only One part of belonging. Just as I belong to RR. Or any other group.

You might enjoy the qawwali. It captures the state of boundarilessness that I live.

Have a great Sunday. Am off for a bite of some reading :)

~F

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Qawwali is my all time favourite, I love it!

And the couplet is lovely, thank you for the same. What are you reading by the way? I am with Paulo Coelho's Fifth Mountain these days.

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I have been off any real

I have been off any real reading for a while, so it is nice to find something light as Lata Mangeshkar in her own voice. It is a series of conversations with the singer and has lovely pictures.

And since I am completely into old Hindi film songs, it is quite a lovely journey.

~F 

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I respect people's beliefs;

I respect people's beliefs; they ought to respect my space.

                   How true you are Farzana.

I love to listen 'naat' by Gulam rasul sabari.

Jis Khwab Mey Ho Jay Deedar E Nabi Hasil

Aey Ishq Kabhi Mujh Ko Neend Easi Sula Jana.

Jab leke chalo gharibaan ko janazah

Kuch khaak Madine ki mere munh pe saji ho.

Jis waqt nakirein meri qabr mein aaein

Us waqt mere lab pe saji Naat-e-Nabi ho.

Not capable to translate in English.

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Thanks, Jitu...and the words

Thanks, Jitu...and the words of the 'naat' are beautiful.

To give another side, and you must know this, I rate it amongst the best bhajans (Hindu hymns) in films:

The music director, lyricist and singer are all Muslim! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJCqDLLdKHY

~F 

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(I think) I've noticed that

(I think) I've noticed that in many non-Arab Muslim countries (e.g., Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Indonesia, Malaysia)--perhaps because the Prophet was Arab, Mecca is in Arabia, and the Quran was originally written in Arabic--there is an attempt, where possible, to use Arabic language within the faith. I don't think it's meant as an insult to other languages or peoples, just as a nod to the origins of the faith and as a means of showing that one is part of the larger ummah.

Many Jordanian Muslims I know write their own rules for observing Ramadan, much as you do, Farzana. Some of them are even descendents of the Prophet. They don't fast. They sneak eat and drink (I know this because they felt safe in inviting me to join them for lunch!). They drink alcohol all year long. Didn't inquire about their sex lives. But they are bloody relieved when Eid finally arrives.

To be fair, I think some of them feel the intention of Ramadan has become somewhat diluted by all the accommodations that are made for it. Government and businesses operate at about half pace. People who aren't Muslim or are Muslim but don't observe are expected to comply with all the rules. And some Jordanian Muslims have real problems with that. They think the point should be to sacrifice, not to use the holy month as an excuse to cut down on work, binge at sunset, or force nonpractitioners to suffer along with everyone else. I can see their point. It mirrors how I feel about Christmas.

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Ellen, the countries you

Ellen, the countries you mention have their own languages, despite being Muslim. The part of the larger ummah thing you mention has become more an observer's phenomenon that is part of the pan-Islamism that I emphatically believe does not exist in reality. Iranians do not speak Arabic.

However, the prayers are indeed in Arabic, and it is learnt by rote; few understand the meaning of the words. Much like Sanskrit here. Or even Latin.

The idea of giving up something has deep connotations and has lost its true significance for many. I feel perturbed when I see people planning menus and patting their backs about how they have just survived the day. it becomes an mockery. But, as I said, there are the few true proponents.

~F 

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Yes, I was thinking last

Yes, I was thinking last night as I was nodding off to sleep that we Catholics were force-fed a lot of Latin so that we could understand and participate in Mass, back when it was celebrated in Latin only.  But most of us didn't really understand it. . .makes for a good comparison with the non-Arab Muslims who speak some Arabic but don't necessarily fully understand the language.

Agree with you that the "ummah thing" is but a fiction.  It doesn't even exist to this observer.  I could see right away all the divisions.  But the Arab leaders still speak of it. . .suppose it is one of their propaganda tools.

You would probably be disappointed if you saw how Ramadan is observed in Jordan.  Too many (but not all) people use it as an excuse to deny others and be lazy, cranky, grumpy, rude, and bad drivers.  I imagine the original intention was to undergo the sacrifice while still maintaining a work ethic and basic cheerfulness.  As with Lent, one is supposed to be tempted by others indulging in what you have forsaken for the duration, but overcome the temptation and be the stronger for it.  That is where the strengthening of the spirit comes from.

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I would not be disappointed,

I would not be disappointed, Ellen, because I would expect just such a thing in Jordan or eleswhere. That is what the post is saying...and the other one I linked here.

The Ummah was hardly an issue. Today it has been politicised and it is really funny when one sees this bogey being pushed around to prop up some weird ideas to pin down terrorists that constitute a small fragment of that society. We aren't even getting into other societies.

~F