Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ramdan Mubarak, 1434

Ramadan started in Dubai on Wednesday, 10 July 2013.

The two most common greetings are 'Ramadan Mubarak' and 'Ramadan Kareem'.

'mubarak' means blessed, and 'kareem' means generous.

A reasonable English translation of 'Ramadan Mubarak' would be, 'Have a Blessed Ramadan,' and a reasonable English translation of 'Ramadan Kareem' might be 'Have a Generous Ramadan.'

Ramadan is a time for more than the usual Islamic generosity. Muslims tend to be very hospitable and generous all year long, but Ramadan is a time when devout Muslims refrain from putting anything in their mouths from 90 minutes before sunrise until sunset, so the usual offers of tea when one visits during the day are suspended for the month of Ramadan. But Muslims must give their annual charity, called Zakat, before they can make the end of Ramadan prayers, so they are all looking for appropriate places to donate.

Dubai has a programme called 'Dubai Cares' which aims to end child hunger throughout the entire world, and they are asking everyone to donate generously. The phrase is 'End Poverty. Educate NOW.'

As far as I know, the overhead of Dubai Cares is minimal: all donations will go to the cause of ending childhood poverty.

So I wish everyone who reads this a Ramadan Mubarak and a Ramdan Kareem.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Almost Ramadan

Several people told me there is no way to figure out when Ramadan will be observed, there's a committee that can declare the start of Ramadan whenever they want. This is at least 97% wrong.

In Dubai, today is Saturday, 6 July. Of course, it will be 6 July all over the world after one passes the midnight that marks the end of 5 July.

In Dubai, today is the 27th of the Islamic month of Shaaban. On the  29thof Shaaban, meaning around sunset on Monday, 8 July, a UAE Moonsighting Committee will go out. Farook tells me someone always says, 'I see the crescent moon!!!' And the chairman of the committee will either say, 'Thank you, my son,' or 'I'm sorry, you're mistaken, my son.'

If the chairman accepts the sighting of the tiny waxing crescent, Tuesday, 9 July, will be the 1st of Ramadan. If the chairman does not accept the sighting, then Tuesday, 9 July, will be the 30th of Shaaban, and Wednesday, 10 July, will be the 1st of Ramadan

So this year, Ramadan will start in Dubai either Tuesday or Wednesday. The committee can't declare that Ramadan starts in the UAE before Tuesday or after Wednesday.

Elsewhere, however, the committee might have seen the crescent for the start of Shabaan a day or two earlier or later than the UAE committee, so today might be the 26th of Shaaban or the 28th of Shaaban in other countries, and their moonsighting committee will go out a day later or a day earlier than the moonsighting committee in the UAE, and so Ramadan might start as much as two days earlier or later than in Dubai in other parts of the Islamic world. Which makes it seem like Ramadan could start almost anytime.

But, for any given Islamic community, it can only start on one of two days.