Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Reverend Nomadic discusses Ramadan

My summer recess is over and I am back. A warning to those expecting a tight piece of written work from me this evening – I am liable to ramble on a bit as I skip through civil war and onto true love, passing through a Muslim festival en route. Not quite Kerouac, but largely unedited and helped with a large glass on red nonetheless. After prompting a discussion on the Blogcatalg discussion boards about Ramadan, my fellow bloggers have asked me to blog about it. What does Ramadan mean to me, as an uber-nomad who has lived amongst Muslims? Hmmm, with respect and peace be upon you all, I am not a follower of Allah – it doesn’t ring my bells. Those close to me who are, show signs of increased compassion and thoughtfulness, but also fatigue and a quiet distance akin to a hangover. I will point you randomly in the direction of my favourite Muslim blogger, Hanifa.

I can, however tell you what fasting and contemplation mean to me – which play their part in Ramadan. Fasting, as I get it, is about giving up something generally taken for granted and an observation of what is to follow. I sometimes fast for a couple of days at a time. It focuses the mind, and cleanses the body. I am usually at my most inspired and creative following a period of abstinence.

Contemplation is probably even more boring for you to hear about. It is a reassessment of my position in life, and most importantly, this year it has meant some important changes. Ramadan is an appropriate time to announce my plans to launch an organisation that promotes non-violent resolution of conflict (using media and arts). Sound a bit hippy? I am fairly determined to make this as dynamic as it has to be. Never before has it felt so right. As with a lot of things in my life at the moment, not least the true love for a Land Rover 90 and the man set to drive her.
So in contemplating peace I got to thinking about a country I stopped in for a good three years and got to know better than most – Sri Lanka. I am not about to give my views on the complex civil war that has engulfed the island for over two decades, killing over 70,000 people. OK, well I might hint at it. I won’t take sides though, I can see both arguments – as distorted and distressed as they are. I do refuse to buy into the demonising of the Tamil Tigers thing. Their violent murderous crime is well catalogued, but perhaps what isn’t, is their ability to protect and give order amongst a chaos brought about by an oppressive government (which I witnessed first hand in 2003).

This is not simply about fighting terrorists as Ravindra Wickremasinghe seems to think in the Asian Tribune this week. In Afghanistan last month I was told that “anyone could become a Taleban in the eye of a foreigner”, then I guess any Tamil could become a terrorist in some eyes. Careful.

I was thinking about Sri Lanka when a friends Facebook status informed me that he was once again displaced. I found out he had left the island of Sri and Serendipity and headed where many have headed - to another much larger island full of strange creatures such as wombats. During the ceasefire a few years ago, I travelled with this friend to Jaffna and the north and saw the places he grew up in shattered by what Lankans loving call “the problems”. His departure from Sri Lanka is as significant to me as the assassination of my friend in Basra last year. A hope extinguished. One less ray of sunshine in a difficult place.

So, (she says in her best Radio 4 voice), thought for the day is to consider all those who tonight are not where they want to be. Those who are apart from their lovers (a-hem). Removed from their children, or displaced from their cherished homelands (for whatever reason). Or, like the blogger Mohammad Erraji, away from their families (because he is in prison in Morocco).

I am beginning to sound like Reverend Nomadic. My summer was filled with wine and good times, and I have much to think about, so a fast may be long overdue to bring me back round. So, a Ramadan Mubarak to you all. And most importantly may peace be upon you.


Annie said...

May Grace Of Allah Be Upon You And Your Family.

I was away from my home country for more than 2 decades and often times in places which are less developed, torn apart by civil riots, corruption and political demonstrations.

Ramadhan is the time when the orphans received their once a year treat to eat beef and mutton. They are so poor, they survived on fish and rice all year.

When Marriott Hotel and Australian Embassy were bombled in Jakarta, my girlfriend's hotel room where she and her twin toddlers were living in were smashed from the effect of the bomb, 30 floors below them. I trembled as I watched the news on television. The babies were sleeping in a room next to the living room where the window had been smashed by the power of the bomb,leaving an empty hole. They were saved. So was my girlfriend.

As a foreigner myself, I worry how the non-Muslims felt about the impact of such crazy acts of violence.

When Tsunami hit South=east Asia, my girlfriend from Aceh lost all but 10 of her family members. The house was slated; the bodies of her parents never found. She now lives in England with her husband, her only document saved is her marriage certificate.

When Ramadhan arrived again, life continued without reflection of such acts of violence or natural calamities. The Muslims fast like usual; life continued.

My world is filled with modern conveniences and peaceful existence with other religions.

I feel compelled to pray for those who have suffered, lost their loved ones and can eat beef for the first time.

Thank you for posting a Ramadhan message. I have 5 hours to go before sunset, in that time, I would recite the Holy Quran and pray that my fellow bloggers will be empowered with words of wisdom. I join you in celebration of peace.

Bay Martin said...

Brilliantly worded article about the Holy Month of Ramadan.

I have to excuse myself, a piano student just came.

I'll be back soon!

Alex Mcone said...

My mother was born and brought up in Sri Lanka but was forced to leave when she was 8 years old. She has fond memories of the place and wants to revisit it before she dies. I haven't told her yet but I'm secretly making plans to make this happen.

As for Ramadan, like I said before in that discussion I have very find memories of it. The prospect is humbling and it most certainly does stand for a time of peace. If I'm not mistaken war is prohibited during the month of Ramadan.

I have a Muslim friend visiting me next week, the same friend who led me into a mosque so I could get some food. It's going to be old days again and I'm fairly excited.

Ramadan Mubarak to you too.

Irtiza said...

this post is so great and full of information that my little three line post about ramadan would look like a fool beside yours....

take care and happy ramadan

timethief said...

I truly loved your informative and revealing post on what Ramadan means to you. I also enjoyed and was enlightened by reading the comments from BC members on the posts you made to the BC forum on the same topic. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

C, thanks for sharing the link.. u're perfect in ur comparison of my migration with the assassination of ur friend; but for me, and for many of my fellow villagers, the situation & the comparison have been the same from the day we were uprooted from our tiny little village in Jaffna, and debarred from entering it for the last 18 years! but still we have some hope that a day will come for us to re-joice in those wonderful moments - dragging the temple chariot and cycling on the sand paths through farmlands and so on...

TechSlam said...

Ramadan is the month in which the Glorious Quran was revealed to the entire humanity through the last messenger of God Prophet Mohammed(may peace be upon him). Quran spreads the teaching of Love, Peace, Humanity, Kindness.

But it is sad to know that, The followers of this peaceful religion is being targetted and called extremist and fundamentalist.

I am Muslim and I tell you, I am extremist and fundamentalist.

Extremist because, I am extremely kind, extremely mercifull, extremely lovable to mankind and I am Extremely Peaceful, and These extremities is what Quran has taught me. And Iam a fundamentalist because I follow the fundamentals of islam to be a true muslim, Just like a doctor who follows the fundamentals of Medicine to be a true doctor.

Islam is the most misunderstood religion by the western countries, for all those who dont know Islam, Please please please, do not judge Islam from the deeds of it's followers as there are black sheps in all religions. If you want to know Islam, read the Glorious quran from a trusted source. Trusted source because, there are many sources around internet with fake meanings of quran just to kill Islam.

May god bless everyone

Ibn Hanif said...

Ramadan Mubarak to you as well!