A blog to chart the Ramadhan journey for me individually and for everyone else I meet along the way. So what is Ramadhan? A time when a fair section of my fellow workforce in the NHS are that much more short tempered, with growling empty tummies?A time to avoid when booking holidays to Muslim countries-unless you don’t mind eating and drinking in front of a mass population starving themselves during daylight hours and things moving that much slower than normal? Or is it something else? A spiritual time, with lots of people congratulating each other because ‘that’ time of the year is back? A chance to repent, to reflect and to detox from a life disconnected with worship and spirituality?
It’s all of the above and so much more. Ramadhan 2012 fell during the Olympic fortnight in London. Ramadan was being talked about in association with Muslim athletes and the question of will they or will they not be fasting. In 2014, Ramadan has coincided with the last-16 rounds of the World Cup and we saw Algeria playing against Germany as Ramadan started. Football pundits rushed to understand and explain the phenomena of a practising Muslim football team with 17 of the 23 players and an army of fans, fasting and praying their way through a World Cup. Not all Muslim footballers were fasting but the question of whether they would be certainly hit the headlines. What was all that hand gesturing to the face and sky, some less informed commentators asked. It was prayer, I tweeted back to their question – just a little annoyed by their ignorance but trying not to be. Surely that was obvious? No? And then that moment we all saw the Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi reach for his bag of dates whilst in goal in the Algeria – Germany match, to break his fast. A quick wave to fans and then he breaks his fast. His heroic saves earned him much praise for being one of the best goalies at the World Cup this year but he earned much more inevitable affection expressed via social media from Muslims and non-Muslims around the world for his choice of fasting and his quiet demonstration of the act of breaking his fast on a world stage.
And then on their return home to Algeria, the Desert Foxes announce that they will be donating their $9 million world cup prize money to Gaza. What can I say other than marsha’Allah and shed a little tear in pride.
It’s also the Ramadan were once again violence threatens to spiral in Palestine, following the murders of four teenagers from both sides. The Syrian conflict sees no end in sight and I wonder often about the people I met last year and how they are living through yet another Ramadan in the harshest of conditions as a consequence of war and indiscriminate hits by Assad. It’s also the Ramadan, when Libya appears it most unstable and dangerous after its liberation from the dictatorship of Gadaffi. And then there’s Iraq – with the Sunni Shia sectarian divide growing and becoming more deadly. The media are rushing to explain the technicalities of the more complex aspects of Islam as the situation expands.
On a lighter note I will also be collecting funny, obscure, maybe informative as well as bizarre posts from the internet-the usual suspects like youtube and Facebook-to give an idea of what is going on.