Cultural lesson for today

December 2, 2008 at 11:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 1, 2008

Some of you had wanted to know about some of the Islamic culture. Well one of the biggest things in Islamic culture is the holy month of Ramadan which begins today 1 September and lasts until 30 of September. I have had a considerable amount of cultural training but I can’t take credit for what follows since I pulled it from various sources across the web.

Ramadan occurs in a different 28 day period every year because the Islamic calendar is based off the lunar calendar. Because of this it even starts at different times in different parts of the world. This year in the Middle East it starts on 1 September, but in North America because lunar sight ability it will start on 2 September. It should also be noted that in the Muslim calander, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will start celebrating Ramadan on the evening of 31 August.

Ramadan is believed to be when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Since this is the month that the Quran was revealed then Muslims are encouraged to entirely read the Holy Quran during the month to reacquaint them with its teachings.

Islam itself has 5 pillars of faith which are:

Faith

Prayer (Salah)

Alms giving (Zakah)

Fasting (Sawm)

Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)

Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation. Therefore they spend a lot of time concentrating on the first 4 pillars (The Hajj occurs during its time period). The most prominent pillar during the month though is Sawm the fasting.

During the Fast of Ramadan strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning.

In order to be respectful or our counterparts the team will not consume anything or smoke in front of our Iraqi Army counterparts during the day. I have been told by my predecessor and other advisors not to plan on doing too much with the Iraqi Army since they will spend most of the day in prayer. I wonder if they will go out and do Operations in the evenings though after the iftar.

The end of Ramadan is marked by a holiday called Eid ul-Fitr or Eid for short.Eid ul-Fitr literally means “the feast of the breaking/to break the fast.”The holiday marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and is a culmination of the month-long struggle towards a higher spiritual state and is actually a three day festival. After breaking the fast, offering prayers and alms, families begin their celebrations with food and family and friends gathering. In most parts of the Islamic world, Muslims give each other small gifts and wear new clothes, children receive money from their parents, relatives and older friends, special feasts are held, and desserts adorn the table for days while families and friends reunite.

Well there is your cultural lesson. Now it’s time for public announcement in this politically correct world we live in. Nothing here was meant to be an insult to the Muslim culture or to a Muslim, if I have misstated something please correct me but do so with good taste and without hate. Thanks

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