Monday, September 06, 2010


Dubai TV had a contest asking 'What must every Muslim do before he can make the Eid prayers?' I had no idea, so I asked Farook, who said, 'He must pay the zakat al fitr,' (which was one of the multiple guess answers).

Farook is, accordingly, going to the livestock souks (Sharjah and Dubai) today around the time fasting starts (4 am, meaning, without me) to look for another animal to donate to the mosque for the poor. He has been at least three times already, but I'm not sure how much zakat al fitr he must pay. It's not as simple as the Christian tithe (which few Christians pay in full, unless they live in a Christian state that collects it as a tax). But Farook will pay in full before he goes to say his Eid prayers.

There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. The only thing that they all have in common is that they all believe and have publicly recited the shahadah, the Muslim profession of faith, which cannot be translated from the Arabic, so I won't even try.

Farook says that zakat must be given to the poor, that Islam requires that Muslims help all humans, whether Muslim or not. Comments on this blog have said that zakat can only be given to Muslims, a position Farook rejects. I, of course, strongly affirm Farook's position. After all, I know that Christians in Dubai collected money for the Muslims affected by the Pakistani floods, so I think Farook's version of Islam--that Muslims must help all the poor--is the correct interpretation of Islam. But, of course, this remains open to debate.

I previously mentioned the Ramadan tents, where they feed everyone, without any questions at all. One need not prove one is Muslim, one need not prove one is poor, anyone is welcome to eat between sunset and 90 minutes before sunrise in the UAE. Some Christians pointed out that there are also Christian charities, but my point was that every Christian charity that I've seen asks questions: the Ramadan tents that I've frequented in the UAE welcome everyone.

But I've been told in comments that Ramadan tents are ONLY for Muslims, that zakat must only go to Muslims.

Which, again, just goes to show that, of the more than 1 billion Muslims, there is no consensus.

What I've seen of Islam is mostly hospitality, a level of hospitality and charity that I never experienced in the West.

And tomorrow, at a reasonable hour, I will go with Farook to take the goat he bought at 4 am to the public kitchen to be cooked for the mosque.

And, I think, he will insist that I take some of the goat home for iftar, since he wants to distribute his zakat to all the poor.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Middle East Queuing (again)

I have developed a rather nasty cold and sore throat, and so had to drag myself to the grocer's for some citrus, throat drops, and juice (I could have called for home delivery, but I like to select my own citrus fruits, and, in addition, getting one's order correct on the first try usually requires fluent Urdu and/or Tagalog and/or some other language I don't speak).

As I was at the checkout counter, with about half my items checked by the cashier and the other half still on the conveyor belt, someone stepped in front of me in order to push his six items at the cashier (naturally, she ignored him until she'd finished my items).

I can only hope he manages to catch my cold and sore throat.