Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eidkum Mbarak!

For my Muslim readers (in case I still have any), Happy Eid. For any who aren't aware, Eid is the holiday signifying the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Perhaps I should give even more detail. Ramadan is a month in the Islamic Hijri calendar. The Hijri calendar is a lundar calendar with 12 lunar months in which the year zero is the year of the Hijra (622 AD), when Mohammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina to finally escape persecution of the Quraysh, the tribe living in Mecca of which he was a member. Since the lunar year is shorter than a solar year, the dates of Ramadan (and every other occurence on the Hijri calendar) slip back 11 days on the Gregorian (Western) calendar every year.

Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed. I have to confess I'm not completely clear on this point and a quick search didn't clear up my confusion. The Quran was revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years. I assume that the first revelation took place in the month of Ramadan as I'm fairly certain it wasn't only revealed over 23 years only in the months of Ramadan. If someone knows the details to this, please feel free to clarify.

Regardless, Ramadan is considered a very holy month in Islam and it's mandatory (with exceptions for children, those who are sick or pregnant, and probably a few others) to fast during the entire month. Since it's a lunar month, Ramadan begins when the first sliver of a moon is viewable and ends after 29 or 30 days, again, when the first sliver of a new moon is visible. Because the month's beginning and end are based on the location of the moon, which differs depending on your location on the earth, the beginning and end of Ramadan are sometimes different in different countries. For instance, this year, Ramadan was only 29 days, ending Monday night, in most of the Arab countries, but it was 30 days, ending Tuesday, in North America.

As I mentioned before, Eid is the holiday at the end of Ramadan. Technically, eid is just the Arabic word for "holiday" (I'm pretty sure) and the Eid at the end of Ramadan is actually Eid al-Fitr. I know there are other eids throughout the year but I don't know their names or what they celebrate. Yesterday was the first day of Eid in some countries and now it's Eid everywhere.

On a somewhat related note, I finished reading the Quran again, which was my goal of Ramadan. It's my understanding that it's customary to read the entire Quran throughout the month of Ramadan so I figured that seemed like a reasonable and useful goal. Like I mentioned in my comment to CES, my new goal is to tear through the Bible with the same fury I did the Quran. However, that's my bedtime reading. My commute reading is "The Prophet & the Messiah : An Arab Christian's Perspective on Islam & Christianity". I just picked it up and started it today so I can't give you much information except it's written by a Christian who grew up in Syria, a predominantly Muslim country. In addition to growing up around plenty of Muslims, he was sincerely curious about Islam and, thus, studied it, even getting his PhD in Islamic studies. He is now a professor at All Nations Christian College in England. As I read, I'll tell you if he has any interesting insights. It seems like most of my reading has been very heavy on the Islamic side. This is only natural as, growing up Christian, I know much more about Christianity than Islam. However, I figured I should balance the side out somewhat.

Actually, now that I think about it, my readings have been fairly even-weighted between Christianity and Islam. I've read St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, a book about Catholicism, one about Orthodox Christianity, and I'm sure even more, those are just off the top of my head. However, this analysis of Islam from a Christian point of view should hopefully be an interesting addition.

1 comment:

Azooz said...

Happy Eid to you to

I do check up on your blog once in a while, glad I kept at it - and Welcome back :)

The date of Eid is always plus or minus a day (or two) but this is not going to last long I hope becuase it's supposed to be shared by all Muslims. A few decades ago the date even differed from village to village, Mecca might have Eid one day and Maddina another. A lot of it depends on the weather but these days with satalites it is not much of an excuse.

The Syrian Christians are the same original people that accepted Jesus (pbuh) 2,000 years ago, they became Arab by picking up the Arabic language like most Arabs did - I wish a lot more Christians were like them, they have the few remaining villages that actually talk the orginal language of Christianity Aramiac.

The Quran was delivered in Ramadan but it was told over the period of 20+ years a few verses at a time.

One of the things that add more meaning to the verses is knowing when they were revealed to and under what circumstances (sp) - their are special books about the Quran that show the chronology of the verses and their historical meaning. I have yet to read the Quran that way but plan to soon.

I have no other book to plug, just the Quran itself becuase it is the first and foremost source of knowledge of Islam. I read that you read about Jesus (pbuh), I'll try to answer it this week inshaAllah - but when you finish reading the Quran, start again - the questions will be answered and more questions will crop up, always - no one has ever been able to finish it, even memorizing it just helps with the reading :)

When a group of Muslims chose an Imam for prayer, the main consideration is knowledge of the Quran - this changes within the group so there is no clergy becuase the more one reads the Quran the more they know about it. It's extremly compresed (compact), but not hard to read - let me stop here so I dont go on and on about it.

Glad to see you back to blogging, I hope things are going your way with your job and life - I have been over a year from my own blog but hope to right someting there soon to.