Friday, July 20, 2012

The Holy Month of Ramadan - an introduction for non-Muslims

Ramadan - a guide for non-Muslims

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. That doesn't mean September. This year, 2012, it will begin on July 20 and end August 18. The Islamic year has twelve lunar months, totalling 355 days. Each month starts on a new moon. This means that Ramadan begins about 10 days earlier each year. The Islamic New Year also advances by 10 days per year (compared with the Gregorian Calendar used in the West). The current Islamic year 1433 began on November 26, 2011 and will end on November 15, 2012.
Mosque at Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE
Mosque at Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE

What is special about Ramadan?

According to tradition, it was during Ramadan that the Archangel Gabriel selected Muhammad to receive and speak the words of Allah which are preserved to this day as the holy Quran. Unlike the Christian Bible which is nearly always read in translation, the Quran is normally read in its original Arabic language. Thus, in Islam, the Quran is especially sacred as the direct word of God. (The classical Arabic of the Quran is of a higher, more complex, form than the Arabic of modern books and newspapers).
fresh dates - perfect for iftar
fresh dates - perfect for iftar

What happens during Ramadan?

Muslims mark Ramadan by fasting each day from sunrise to sunset. This is a strict fast - no food and no drink of any sort, not even water. It is hard for smokers, because that too is disallowed, as is any sexual activity while fasting. The faithful rise early in the morning and take a meal, Suhoor, before dawn and first prayers. Their next meal is called Iftar and is taken after the sunset prayer. Within the faith, exceptions are made for the old and infirm, young children and pregnant and nursing mothers.
Throughout Ramadan, families get together to share food and company in the evenings and night-time, and the emphasis is always on reflection, prayer and charity. Ramadan is not a commercialised festival.

Extra tips for Gulf travelers:

Shopping, business and Government Office hours change during Ramadan. Most establishments post a notice of Ramadan Timings at their entrance. Cafes, restaurants and take-away food outlets do not open in daylight. However, food shops do open and you can buy food to cook at home. Expect hotel restaurants to be closed during daylight. International hotels will provide room service.
Dress code during Ramadan is more restrained. Legs, shoulders and arms should be covered. In stricter quarters, even the wearing of jewellery is frowned upon, though this is not universal.
Alcohol outlets (if any) usually remain closed throughout the month. In Dubai, hotel bars open in the evenings (after Iftar) but with no live music. The Filipino bands are often allowed home for the month. In stricter states, bars are closed for the whole month, even for residents (though minbars may be stocked).
Lewd or offensive gestures or speech, never popular in Islam, are particularly to be avoided during this month when people are trying to keep their minds pure. But that's always good advice!

Some tips for non-Muslims

If you live in the west, your life goes on as normal. Nevertheless, it is good to be aware that your Muslim colleagues may well be fasting. It is considerate to respect this, and not to make a show of eating and drinking in their presence. It is good to say 'Ramadan kareem' in greeting. It will be appreciated, as I'm sure you would appreciate a 'Merry Christmas' from the locals if you were working in Saudi.
If you live in an Islamic country (I live in Qatar), Ramadan is enshrined in law; it is not simply a religious option. You are not obliged to fast, but you are required to respect the traditions. Here are some tips to avoid accidental offence:
  • Take a good breakfast in the privacy of your apartment before venturing out for the day. If you must have lunch, take a packed lunch and find a private place to eat it. Better still, try to do without. Most of us carry a few extra pounds anyway.
  • Don't snack - avoid coffees, sweets, gum, etc. during the day. Most of this is habit, rather than necessity, so it's a good discipline. You'll want to drink water. Try to find a private place.
  • Try not to smoke. If you really must, find a private place, but also consider why you must!
Be careful on the roads! Driving standards are low in the Gulf States at the best of times. Around sunset, the roads are full of people rushing home to break their day-long fast with their families. Many are dehydrated and very tired. Seriously - be careful!

Ramadan Kareem!

Postscript - tips on fasting

Sometimes, non-Muslims living in the Gulf states choose to take part in the Ramadam fasting regime, either as a token of respect or in some cases simply because of circumstances. If you are not used to fasting but decide to try it, the following suggestions may help:
  1. For your per-dawn meal, choose slow energy release foods like pasta, rice or whole meal bread. Avoid empty calories (sugar and sweets) and avoid fried or heavily salted foods that will make you thirsty all day. Drink plenty of water with this meal.
  2. During the day, unless you wish to be very strict with yourself as a discipline, drinking water is better for your health than doing without, especially in hot countries. Dehydration is not good for the body.
  3. When you break your fast at sunset, take a little fruit and water first (dates are traditionally served) to take the edge off your hunger. Then take dinner later in the evening.
  4. Go to bed early as you will be rising early to eat. Sleep deprivation has no health advantages.
As an aside, there is concern often expressed in the local papers that some Muslims, though they fast through the daylight hours, may over-indulge in the evenings and through the night, socialising to excess with friends and family, even to the extent of putting on weight through the month. This is contrary to the true spirit of Ramadan and has parallels in the West in the over-commercialization of Christmas.

Ramadan Kareem! And thanks for reading.
This Hub was last updated on January 22, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tip of the iceberg:Government’s stance on extrajudicial killings is constitutionally and morally untenable

  Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
Encounter killing is plain murder, says Justice AM Ahmadi, former Chief Justice of India. If anybody in India is capable of deciding on the legal and constitutional validity of police encounters, Justice Ahmadi is certainly one of them.

An indictment of Kurnool and Guntur districts (in Andhra Pradesh) former police superintendent, PSR Anjaneyulu by the National Human Rights Commission has said between 2000 and 2002 Anjaneyulu was responsible for 16 deaths in fake encounters. The NHRC ordered payment of Rs 5 lakh to each victim. The indictment was made eight months ago, but it was not made public.

Silently, the two district administrations have paid the compensation to the next of kin of the victims. Whether genuine or fake, encounter killings are illegal, unconstitutional and immoral because victims are denied the due process of law. As even the genuine encounters are illegal, fake encounters are, obviously, more heinous and dastardly.
Batla House Encounter: Protestors on procession

What is intriguing and amazing is government’s attitude to such killings. Even though government is responsible for the protection and upholding of the Constitution, it tacitly supports the plainly illegal and unconstitutional encounter killings.

This state-sponsored gangsterism has become so endemic and the people in power have become so anesthetized to it that they do not consider it a crime. On the contrary, such police officers are called “encounter specialists, and rewarded with gallantry medals. They are honoured with President’s Medal also despite their brazenly extralegal activities. This shows that everybody is hand in glove with these killers in uniform.

The NHRC finding is confined to only two districts out of the 600 districts of India. The figures are much more higher for the whole country and police lawlessness is an enormous issue. The Indian state thinks that through extrajudicial killings it is curbing crime while the fact remains the state’s lawlessness is forcing more people into the arms of extremists. Sadly, the actual number of such killings is much higher and what is publicly visible is only the tip of the iceberg.

Placed in this context the appointment of Anjaneyulu as the chief of anti-Naxal force, the Greyhound, in Andhra Pradesh, looks astounding. This is like hiring a thief to catch a thief. And what about the legality of all this? Forget about it..

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam is the Chairman of Institute of objective Studies,New  Delhi. 

The contents of the article rest on the author.







The Lady maliciously mum on Myanmar Muslim cleansing: Analyst

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - “This is ethnic cleansing…. the government and even this Nobel prize winner, the lady [Aung San Suu Kyi] is so criminally silent about the problems of this minority in Myanmar,” Professor Ghulam Taqi Bangash at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) said.

The remarks come after Myanmar’s President Thein Sein said that Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.

The government refuses to recognize nearly-one-million-strong Rohingya Muslims community, which the UN calls one of the world’s most prosecuted people.

Myanmar claims the Rohingya are not native and classify them as illegal migrants although they have lived in the country for generations. 

Myanmar’s opposition and National League for Democracy party (NLD) leader Aung Suu Kyi was elected to parliament after she was released from house arrest earlier this year.

However, many people are disappointed at the way she has been avoiding the issue.

Last Month at a press conference in Geneva, Suu Kyi said she 'didn't know' if Rohingya Muslims were Myanmar's citizens. 

Bangash said Washington is also criminally silent over the issue as the US tries to coax the countries in the Southeast Asia region to stop them from having better relations with the People’s Republic of China.
“Southeast Asia is becoming much more inconspicuous on the economic map for the United States of America,” he added.

“They should rather strengthen the sanctions against Myanmar until this problem should be solved but they are not doing that,” Bangash added. 

Myanmar's current government is run by military figures, which have been accused of rights abuse.
Over a dozen Muslims were killed on June 3 when a mob of ethnic Rakhines, who are mostly Buddhist, attacked a passenger bus in the Rakhine state in the west of the country that borders Bangladesh.

Over the past two years, throngs of ethnic Muslims have attempted to flee by boats in the face of systematic oppression by the government.


Indian cleric Severely Condemned Massacre of Myanmar Muslims

The president of India’s Jamiat Ulma I Hind has voiced concern about the massacre of ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, calling for an end to the humanitarian crisis in the southeastern Asian country. 
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Maulana Syed Arshad Madani condemned Myanmar government for being indifferent to the massacre of Muslims by extremist Buddhists.

He also criticized the silence of the international community and human rights organizations across the world about the tragic plight of Muslims in Myanmar.

Earlier on Friday, hundreds of Indonesian Muslims protested outside the Myanmar embassy in the capital Jakarta, urging an end to the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also expressed deep concerns about the situation in Myanmar, and called for an international move to end the violence against the minority group.

Reports say 650 of nearly one million Rohingya Muslims have been killed as of June 28 during clashes in the western region of Rakhine. This is while 1,200 others are missing and 80,000 more have been displaced.

The UN has described Rohingya Muslim as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

They are deprived of basic rights including education and employment and are subject to force labor, extortion and other coercive measures.

The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives and classifies them as illegal migrants, although they have lived in the country for generations.

Related News:

1. Indian cleric Severely Condemned Massacre of Myanmar Muslims

2. Iran's Judiciary condemns genocide of Myanmar Muslims

3. Indonesia Shia Cleric Illegally Jailed for Blasphemy

4. Economic profits hush West over Muslim plight in Burma

5. US Muslims plea for end to Rohingyas plight

6. Iran voices concern over mass killings of Muslims in Myanmar

7. Muslims Massacre Chronology in Myanmar

8. Extremist Buddhists savagely massacre tens of defenseless Muslims in Myanmar

9. Myanmar's democracy icon and Nobel Peace prize winner silence on oppression against Rohingya Muslims

10. The Lady maliciously mum on Myanmar Muslim cleansing: Analyst

11. Killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar + PIC

12. Rohingya: Muslim stateless and 'friendless' in Myanmar

13. Bangladesh turns away Muslims women and children fleeing Myanmar + PIC

14. Buddhist Vigilantes Kill Myanmar Muslims


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


India has the second largest Diaspora in the world. The overseas Indian community estimated at over 25 million is spread across every major region in the world. The renowned Diaspora is the Gurjaratis. The well known Gujarati, who began his political career and an iron headed man who lived long in UK and South Africa is Mahatma Gandhi. Gurjarti Diaspora is seemly well and large around the globe.

But the Gujarati NRIs  love for exercising their franchises is bleak, to elect an MLA,   finding their names on electoral rolls is shocking because from the time government allowed to vote for elections for their native land, only one Gujarati has shown her interest to vote for the Assembly election which is left  just about five months.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Egypt on Crossroads

Dr.Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Over the last few weeks dramatic events have occurred in Egypt with rapid succession that give them the same breathless, highly excited quality in some measure evident at Tehrir Square at the height of the anti-Mubarak regime uprising.

Only a couple of weeks back the Supreme Court quashed the parliamentry elections that had brought in a large number of Muslim Brotherhood and other like-minded candidates. The Supreme Court decision was widely seen as a desperate move by a largely liberal judicial establishment to stem the rising tide of Islamism.

This move was also seen by a sizeable section of Egyptians and other fellow Arabs as a move to keep Islamists out of power to please the US, European Union and Israel.

Soon after that the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi won the presidential election, the Brotherhood winning 51 percent of the polled vote against 49 percent of the secular and liberal groups.

As the judiciary undermined the parliamentry poll winners, the military duly cut the wings of the new president by taking away his most important powers before allowing him to take charge.
Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first civilian-elected president

Yet another dramatic turn came in the struggle for power between the traditional centres of power on one hand and democratically elected public representatives on the other on July 10 when President Morsi called a session of the dissolved Parliament and the disqualified MPs. That gesture of democratic defiance has heightened tensions once again. This is a dangerous moment for the country, which is being watched by Israel, EU and the United States. These powers would like to see destabilisation in the biggest Arab country, which also happens to be the craddle of Islamism.

Over the years and decades the Brotherhood has mellowed with experience and distanced itself from some of the extreme positions the early leaders took in the 20s and 30s of the last century. Today it is part of the democratic world.

Let us hope that President Morsi, the disqualified MPs, the military and the judiciary would finally be able to reconcile their differences and allow the newly established democracy to grow roots.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Chennai Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shafee Ahmed Ko

Students of Hindustan University, Padur, Chennai, and its management  escalated conflicts over implementation  ‘Break’ system from this year – involving that no students with arrears will be promoted. The spokes person of the University said the disheartened students stayed back from the University classes, and management has declared day off from Monday.

Desperate Students 
T.K.Shanaz, State Joint Secretary Muslim, Students Federation Students’ Wing of Indian Union Muslim League, in a press note emphasising the agony of students statesthat Hindustan University has to reconsider its stand and resolution.

Shanavaz requested urgent intervention of the HRD ministry and UGC and Governor of Tamil Nadu to look into the uncertainty prevailing among  students from Hindustan University.  The students consider that it was unilateral decision to implement new system, taking aback all the students, which will disturb hundreds of the students pursuing their course. Shanavaz further stated that any unilateral decisions adopted by the said University, having no word   of consultation with the students in advance, is a set back and means for possible failure in their future career. “This new rule”, he said,  “Year Backing” a system was unexpected and a shot on the arm,   also not in practice earlier years, would definitely bring severe impact on the students mentally and physically and taking toll to of their future.
Hindustan  University closed

In a faxed letter to Minister to the HRD, UGC, and Governor of Tamil Nadu, Navaz has requested their immediate intervention, and impart a remedy to their cause of distress.

From the students’ assertion it was clear that the Hindustan University collected nearly Rs.25,000 towards the cost of the books and students alleged that the university collected the books back every semester.