Monday, August 16, 2010

CONTEST!

Okay kids, we are go for Ramazan! I’ve been wanting to do a contest for awhile (to increase reader comments and make sure everyone is still perusing my blog, Buddy), so...it’s gonna go something like this:

Over the next 4 weeks, new blog posts about Islam (and my Ramazan fast) will pop up on this here blog. On week 5 (around September 15), a fun and insightful Islam-themed test will offer you the opportunity to win a locally made silk scarf (straight from Sheki, Azerbaijan). All questions will come directly from my blog posts, so don’t be afraid to comment me when you have a question.

All 92% correct quizzes will then join the pool and a winner will be selected at random! After an undetermined (undetermined because who knows when my post office actually sends my America packages to America) amount of time, you will receive a locally-made silk scarf (Azerbaijan was on silk road after all).

Good luck and may the Force be with you.

Note: This contest is in no way sponsored by Peace Corps. All blog posts and test questions are written by Löki Gale Tobin and any mistakes made are hers alone.

What is Ramazan?

Yup. That is right. Azerbaijanis call it Ramazan and not Ramadan. Why exactly, I am not sure.

Anyway, Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islam calendar which the Qur'an was claimed to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is also the time when the gates of Heaven are open and the gates of hell are closed. During this month, the Prophet fasted and told his followers to do the same. Each day he broke his fast with a date. I recently was told I can replace the date with clean water as dates are expensive in Az.

Okay, back to the point. During the fasting period (sunrise to sunset), observers do not drink, eat, smoke, or engage in sexual relations. You are also not supposed to swear, lie, or treat others unkindly. It is believed that it is easier to resist temptations during Ramadan because the devils are chained in hell. I am not sure about this, but so far, I have found myself a lot less negative while fasting.

There is also the viewpoint that fasting is an opportunity to practice patience, modest, and spirituality. Many believe this is a time to offer more prayers to God and focus on worship and contemplation.

The exact days of Ramazan vary from place to place as it depends on when the new moon is seen. The month then continues for the following 29 to 30 days. Observers are allowed to eat and drink when the sun is not in the sky, with the first meal of the day beginning with a prayer. After this, the fast is broken at sunset with a feast called the Iftar, which usually involves hosting family and friends.

The fasting requirement does make exceptions for young children, the sick, pregnant or traveling; however, it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and observed as such.

For more info, check out the link below.

Resources: Peace Corps Az August Staff Stuff & BBC Religions - Islam: Ramandan [link]