Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reflections Of The Night

The worry was there on the guys with the clipboard.
The target was high - it was half a million dollars.
The times were tough - it was a recession.
Yet, the speaker wasn't worried.
He knew the mosque wouldn't be let down.
At the end of the evening, the money raised was over a million.
Yes, it is our way.
THEY WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.

It's just a month.
Is it over yet, they ask.
It's the night of the 27th.
It's not over, but it feels like it.
It's sad, yet it's a night of bliss.
Yes, it is our way.
THEY WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.

People's feet are swollen.
They stand all night.
The comfort of the bed beckons,
Yet the voice of the Qari is the one they respond to.
The Quran is over. The Quran is begun anew,
Grown men cry. Why? Silent tears are shed by the women.
Even the mischievous children are quiet.
Something momentous has taken place.
Yes, it is our way.
THEY WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.

The community is all here.
Men, women, children of all ages.
It feels like Eid. Sweets are distributed.
It's midnight. Soon, the lot is empty.

Then it starts filling up again.
Into the starry sky, the crescent is playing hide and seek.
The 15-year-old is reciting the verses.
"Then which of your Lord's favors will you deny?"
It's almost morning.
The faithful are fed.
The CEO a neighbor of the sweeper, eating on the floor.
That night, the building is full of people.
Yes, it is our way.
THEY WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.
.
.
.
. [Eid]
.
.
.
A week has passed.
It's the time of the night prayers.
Faithful are called for prayers.
Only a handful have shown up.
Yes, it is also our way.
Perhaps, WE, do not understand.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Canadian Leaders on Ramadan

Today I was pleasantly surprised to see an email from St├ęphane Dion, the leader of the Liberal party and the Hon. Leader of the Opposition in Canada, in my inbox (I am part of the Liberal bloggers mailing list).
On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all of you who observe Laylat al-Qadr during Ramadan.

As this is the holiest night of Ramadan, when the Qur’an was first revealed to the prophet Muhammad by God, I know that you and your families will be taking this opportunity to pray, to reflect and to meditate.

I would like to highlight the important lessons that come from this spiritual evening. This night teaches values of sincerity and forgiveness which I believe should be a part of every person’s life. Your culture and religion, which espouses these principles, help to demonstrate the richness of diversity that Canada has and our country is a better place for it.

As you gather at your mosques or in your homes with loved ones tonight, I wish you a rewarding day.[source]
It's really reaching out to Muslims. I have seen politicians greet us on Eid before, but this is details, man.

Of course, the New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton is no stranger to Muslims (he was at RIS last year and is very much involved with the community). He too has wished Muslims on Ramadan and Eid many a times.

And then we have Walmart with Ramadan specials to know we have truly arrived!As an aside you gotta love how Walmart has 2-for-1 (Ramadan AND Eid Mubarak) on one banner - truly lower costs!).

One person is missing in action though - our Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Didigiri

Somewhat disturbing, somewhat funny, and politically very incorrect.

Dadagiri is a new reality Indian TV show on a youth channel called Bindass. One of the segments of the show feature contestants withstanding verbal abuse by a female anchor dressed as some dominatrix. In this episode, it seems someone forgot to give the guy contestants the script - they were unmoved by her tirade.

What then followed, the girl lost her temper.

And slapped the guy.

And the guy ... well, you'd better watch the video.

I find it pretty surprising that such television shows now air in the same land where Richard Gere cannot kiss Shilpa Shetty.

Of course the TV network then did not air the scene but completely left it out of the final cut that made it to the air.

And then conveniently released it on Youtube.

Sneaky, these Indians.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last Ten Days of Ramadan

You know it's the last 10 days of Ramadan when:

  • Half the people you know are saying, "Oh God I can't believe Ramadan is over already it was just yesterday it started ..."

  • The other half are saying, "I can't wait for Eid"!

  • Already the debate between Global Moonsighting and Local Moonsighting is being revisited.

  • People are ready to stay all night in the mosque to pray nafil prayers of Qiyam al Lail and then go home and sleep through the fard prayers of Fajr!

  • All university male students have by this time made a list of rankings of various mosques by the free iftars they provide. Apparently in Toronto the Islamic Foundation is leading with its delicious spread on Sundays.

  • Part time taraweeh attendees (the 8-rakat-ers) are making plans for which mosque they will attend on the night of the 27th.

  • All the mosques now urge you to do more good deeds (i.e. donate more).

  • Speaking of mosques, all of a sudden you start seeing blankets, pillows and sleeping bags in the praying area!
  • Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Four Biwi, So Fight With TV

    So.. there's this, like, Saudi sheikh, who hates TV.

    So he said, like, TV is bad.

    TV producers are also bad. And they should be killed.

    Anyone on TV, even Mickey Mouse, should also be killed.

    And he says all this .. while BEING ON TV.

    Anyone beside me find this ironic?

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Ramadan Conversations

    "Hey, S!" My brother's friend called out to him.

    "Whassup?" My brother replied.

    "Yo, why don't you come to Tim Horton's after taraweeh prayers?"

    "Er," My brother answered. "Isn't it kinda late? 11.20 the prayers end."

    My brother's friend looked at him for sometime.

    "What are you talking about? Oh, you mean you pray the full 20? I was talking about 8 rakats. That's over at 10.30!"

    "Ah," My brother commented. "Oh well, don't know. Why, what's at Tim Horton's?"

    "You should come." My brother's friend winked. "It's Ramadan and it's taraweeh. ALL THE GIRLS ARE THERE!"
    * * *

    "Oh, my legs are paining!" My friend tells me after we exit the mosque, praying only 8 rakats of taraweeh.

    "Yah, I know!" I reply, knowing how long the prayers can be.

    "You know," She tells me, "I was so lost after the 2nd rakat."

    "Ha ha." I answer. "I know exactly what you mean. During the 1st rakat I am convinced that TODAY I will concentrate on my prayers. Then, during the 2nd rakat I start planning tomorrow's schedule, and then suddenly rebuke myself for losing concentration. During the 3rd rakat I am thinking tomorrow I have table tennis practice at 5 and I have to do this work project. By the 6th rakat I have reviewed all my things to do tomorrow and the rest of the week!"

    My friend looks at me for sometime, and then utters in a low voice:

    "Well, I meant LOST as in mesmerized. The recitation of the Quran was just so beautifully done that I was really deeply into it!"

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    A Hungry Man is NOT an Angry Man!

    I remember reading a travel advice given by a travel show on a visit to some Muslim country. Part of the advice read (I am paraphrasing here) as follows.
    Ramadan begins on such-and-such date. During Ramadan, Muslims fast (abstain from food and drink) the whole day. As a result, individuals may be snappy and irritable, therefore be polite and avoid crowds. Important projects tend to get delayed during Ramadan ...
    Now I didn't read anywhere that one of the requirements of Ramadan is that a hungry man should be an angry man! I am pretty sure though - that I read in some hadith - in Ramadan, all that some Muslims will get out of their fast is hunger and thirst. So this means many will not get the spirit of Ramadan.

    In Ramadan we are supposed to be nice. An extra effort, if I may. We are supposed to be a better person than we are for the rest of the year. So that would mean NOT angry and NOT irritable. Unfortunately though, I have to agree with that advice.

    Living in the Arab lands, people tend to be lazier in Ramadan than the rest of the year. The already procrastinating nature receives a boost in Ramadan - with cries of Bukran and Inshallah! increasing ever. And living here in Canada, many Muslims tend to over exaggerate how hungry and thirsty they are to their non-Muslim colleagues, and slack off on their productivity, blaming Ramadan.

    So this Ramadan, let us make a deal to not only be a nicer person, but also a more productive person.

    And yes, I am blogging this on my break!