Ramadan is a special month of fasting and prayer. SAMEER YASIR highlights some routines that change during this month – things Muslims do and do not do during the lunar month.
The holy month of Ramadan began this year in extreme heat with prolonged days. Contrary to last year, the heat is scorching, and the long days can prove to be exhaustive for the fasting people. Ramadan this year is believed to be the toughest one after decades. This year the meaning of the word ‘Ramadan’ has proved to be literally fitting – extreme heat. The holy month of Ramadan is often used as a month in which the believer renews and increases spiritual connection with God. At the same time it is also famous for certain thing, which seldom people do in the other months. What are those things which people do most?
Everyone, from a 10-year-old boy to 80-year-old man, habitually prays in this month. Huge lines of people praying can be seen outside the mosques.
Even those people who don’t pray for eleven months do it in this month. A glance at the city during Friday’s prayers and you will notice that streets are jam-packed. Sometimes, even the traffic has to be diverted. As the Muizen calls for prayer people shut businesses and rush to mosques and try to find place wherever they could to offer prayers. For the removal of material desires people focus fully on devotion and service to God. Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic year, it is a thorough 30-day period of enlightenment and self-reflection for the 1.8 billion or so Muslims who inhabit the planet. Likewise, in the rest of world people try to become as pious Muslims as they could.
Even though for one time in a day apart from the usual prayer, one has to offer tarawih in the evening which means 29 rak’ahs at night.
Scholars have regarded the collective offerings of the tarawih as a compulsory sunnah having the kifiyah status. People offer prayers happily in this month and ask for the forgiveness of their sins.
“My favorite Nimaz in this month is tarawih. I wait for this time it gives you a different kind of feeling when you perform it. I enjoy this nimaz most in this month,” Said Abdul Momin of downtown Srinagar. Apart from it, every prayer offered in the month has seventy times rewards, it is believed.
Come Ramadan, Kashmir is full of beggars from outside who come all the way form different parts of India. Business is brisk and most of them beg outside the mosques and on the streets. There is no figure available about how many people actually come to Kashmir for begging, but they number thousands.
“As compared to the rest of India you make good money in Kashmir, Kashmiri people are generous when it comes to giving in this month,” Says Tahira from Nasik in Maharashtra, who begs in the lal chowk.
Showkat Ahamd Dar, an Islamic studies scholar in the Islamic University of Science and Technology says Ramadhan is an honorable and blessed month, and the rewards for generosity are multiplied in it.
“The Prophet (saws) said, “The best charity is that given in Ramadhan. This is a source of help and support, especially for the ones fasting. To encourage this, he who feeds a fasting person will gain the same reward as he will, without decreasing from the fasting person’s rewards.”
It has been noticed even in Kashmir that alms donated to NGOs like Yateem Trust, Cancer Society and all those working for good a cause get up, and whatsoever people can donate they do. It has certain conation attached to it. People donate generously in this month.
Although people overeat in this month, experts warn that it is a major health hazard. But despite that, in Kashmir valley people consume meat at an alarming rate. Since people who fast have to eat before dawn, they try to eat as much as they can, so that they won’t feel hungry in the day. Doctors advise that people should cut down on Suhoor meals (food eaten shortly before morning prayers just before the dawn). A big Suhoor meal is extremely harmful because people go to bed shortly after that; before the body gets enough time to digest the food. The right Suhoor meal is something light such as cereal and milk or a fruit cocktail. An unhealthy Suhoor meal makes you lazy all day and may give you palpitations.
Overeating can cause irreversible damage to the arteries and even cause brain hemorrhage, experts say. However, nutritionists advise a healthy diet this Ramadan urging people to reduce their intake of red meat and sugar laden meals.
It has been generally observed, in this month, that fasting people sleep more than normal. Most of the people after eating before dawn sleep for a long time. After the Suhoor the general trend has been to sleep for a long time. The business establishments and shops open late than the normal time and close early; not to talk of the government offices were nothing moves.
Tairq Ahmad, a shopkeeper in local chowk, says after the morning prayers people sleep late in the day and start their business usually late. “When we eat in the morning the tendency to sleep grows after the Nimaz. This month is for making connection with God as much as an individual can. We have eleven months to earn and this month for spending.”
But scholars of Islamic studies believe that the sleeping man will certainly pass the time but his purpose of fasting will be lost, and he will never be able to understand the reason of fasting, the purpose of fasting and the peace which soul feels during the fast, said an Islaimc scholar.
Many people recognize Ramadan as a month to stay awake at night and sleep during the day. The sudden change of eating habits and timing, from day to night (fasting during daytime and eating at night) are accompanied by some physiological changes in the body as well.
Travel from one district to another and you will notice the road rage, people fighting with each other and exchanging curses. There is one thing that is most visible in this month be it buses, markets, or any other place people fight for small things. What is the reason no one knows? But you will notice an ever-increasing number of fights in this month.
“People are hungry so to went out their frustration they fight over petty issues. I was travelling in a car recently and someone was standing in middle of the road I honked, instead of getting away he starting fighting with me,” Said Feroz Ahamd, a resident of Anantnag.
So, apart from what people do in the month of Ramadan, what are those things that we avoid doing in this month?
Generally, people avoid going to picnics and hangouts in this month.
During this time of the year Kashmiri people tend to spend their evening in gardens, picnic spots but with the arrival of Ramadan most stay inside and avoid the outings. That is the reason most of picnic spots even in valley today are only filled by the outside tourists. It is difficult even to find food in the city during the daytime. The tourists who are out on the streets are feeling the heat, because of most of the roadside shops and tea stalls remaining closed. There is also a dip in the number of tourist arriving in Muslim majority Kashmir during this month. The flight rates, which had touched the sky, are almost back to the normal to and out of Srinagar.
A couple of years ago the valley people used to prefer getting married before the arrival of Ramadan. Since it would fall in the winters it was considered an ideal idea to get married before the beginning of the holy month. Since this year the month of Ramadan came in the middle of the summer most of the weddings have been planned after August. But usually also people avoid getting married in this month. This trend is not only specific to Kashmir but throughout the world among the Muslim community. Even the destination marriages that had recently become trend for outsiders getting married in valley have been postponed, a hotelier informed.
Throughout this month the gymnasiums are almost empty. Exercising is avoided in this month, you wont see many people jogging in the morning or going to a gym. Gym centers remain mostly closed. Experts advise that one should give two hours after breaking the fast before working out.
Mubashir Ahmad, a regular at a gym says “Although I have gained a lot of weight, but I don’t go to gym in this month. Even after breaking the fast one feels very tired and wants to rest.”
Even the athletes around the world were in dilemma what to do during the Ramadan this year in Olympics. Most of the grounds in the valley are wearing a deserted look. With the onset of Ramadan hardly anyone can be seen playing on the fields. Cricket, which is the most popular sport in the subcontinent, is also invisible in this month. Almost all the sports activity comes to halt during this month in Kashmir.
There is one thing, apart from all this, which is the lethargy on display in government departments. Go to any government office in this month and you will hear only one answer for your every query – come after Ramadan.