Ramadan blog: Welcome Ramadan!


Now (more or less) begins the holy month of Ramadan.



(Actually, it depends upon when they actually sight the new moon in Mecca. In 1984, my first year in Morocco, the weather in Mecca wasn’t very good; there were actually one or two days between the Muslim month of Cha’ban and the beginning of the month of Ramadan that didn’t have Muslim dates. After a little delay, they began Ramadan by default.)



During my first Ramadan in Morocco, I tried to fast.  Most foreigners do. I lasted about three days. (You’re supposed to go without food, smoking, drinking, and sex during the daylight hours. If you can distinguish the difference between a black thread and a white thread, it’s daytime, and you fast. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, you’d be arrested if they even suspected you were cooking or eating during daylight hours.)



Tunisia was more forgiving. I knew by my second or third Ramadan that, as a kafir, I wasn’t required to fast; I only needed to eat and drink and smoke out of sight. (Some of my Tunisian co-workers and friends ended up joining me in my office – with the door closed – eating and drinking and smoking. And, the farther we got into Ramadan, the more people crowded into that little office. But – you see? – they were in the company of an unbeliever. It was okay!  I was a bad influence!)



I remember the wonderful rich succulent meals served at sunset on Ramadan evenings, and the sticky honey-laden pastries, and the long nighttime promenades. No one slept much.  Everyone was cranky during the day. (During my first Ramadan in Tunisia, I said something my boss thought was stupid. He slowly turned and banged his head against the wall. “He’s not fasting,” he muttered dramatically in French under his breath. [He knew I understood French better than Arabic, so it was mostly for my benefit.] “He just doesn’t understand.”)



By my last Ramadan, in 1987, I remember walking through the Tunis medina, and seeing a fat German tourist in shorts eating an ice-cream cone in daytime, and I was shocked.



To all my Muslim friends: ! رمضان كريم 






About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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