Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ramadan: 'Laylatul-Qadr'

Laylatul-Qadr, or the Night of Power, marks the evening
in which the Quran is said to have been revealed.
(Source: OniIslam.net)
G'day everyone once again; or should that be 'Selam Alejkum' to some of you (for those who don't know, this is a popular greeting by Muslims around the world, meaning 'Peace be upon you').

Straight up, I won't waste your time here, and will just cut to the chase. I did not fast yesterday (Monday), and I am not fasting today.

Why not?

I could provide you with a number of reasons. Yes, reasons. They definitely could not be referred to as excuses, or anything.

Yesterday, myself and my partner wanted to visit some of her family members for coffee and a catch-up. This requires walking across to the other side of town and, realistically, do you think we can do that on a day which we are fasting? I am sure some have the ability to do so, but not myself, at least.

Heck, another reason, and a somewhat pathetic one at that, was I wanted to have a kick of the Sherrin footy outside yesterday for the first time in more than six months. Sweating it out with no food and water to rehydrate me? No, thanks.

A trip to the shopping centre today to buy some new clothes can also be added to that list.

So, why am I telling you all of this?

It is not to illustrate a sudden disrespect from my behalf towards Islam and Ramadan. It is, also, not to tell you that I have thrown the towel in the ring, and given up on this month of fasting.

I am telling you this because my reasoning for not fasting, finally, flicked a switch in my head to make me consider and further realise the relationship between the local Bosnian Muslim population and actually fasting.

As was the case with myself - in fact, it was probably the case right up until now - many people seem to assume that just about every single Muslim in the world is fasting during the month of Ramadan. If you know a Muslim who is not fasting, you probably have a preconceived thought that they are, therefore, considered a 'bad' Muslim, or that they are an odd one out-of-the-pack compared to the other Muslims who are fasting.

The truth is, at least here in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the majority of Muslims are not absolutely dedicated to their religion. True, there are a large number who attend the mosques during this holy month, and many people fast as much as they can, but there are just as many - if not more - people who I like to label as 'moderate' Muslims.

These people all identify themselves as Muslim, no question, although, many of them have their own reasons, perhaps similar to mine, for not fasting every day. Maybe some of them fast a few days here and there, or maybe some of them don't fast at all. Maybe some of them are not fasting, but they pray once-a-week. Not everyone is the same.

To be clear, I am not judging these people - I mean, how could I possibly judge anyone?

I am merely writing this as an observation, and to crush the myth held by some that Bosnia-Herzegovina is some sort of country which is filled with Muslims to its core.

In fact, an article released today by the 'Muslim Village' reveals that only 63% of Muslims worldwide actually pray five times a day; 93% are said to fast; while just 9% have completed the Hajj pilgrimage.

Recent figures from a study on the 'participation' levels
of Muslims around the world.
(Source: MuslimVillage.com)
True, there are a large number of people who are fasting and praying regularly - even when it is not Ramadan - but I do not believe that this number is anywhere near as high as some in Australia, for example, would assume.

Dosta o ovome.

Nonetheless, moving on!

Now that I have got that out of the way, I need to write a little bit about tonight - a night that is a very special one in the Islamic calendar.

Tonight is Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Power), and is easily the most special night, not just during Ramadan, but throughout the entire Islamic year. Its significance bare downs to the fact - among other reasons - that it is the same night the Quran was revealed.

So, how do Muslims mark or celebrate this occasion?

It is said that the Muslim who prays on the Night of Power is extremely fortunate. In fact, prayer throughout this night is said to be 'better than a thousand months'. A thousand months! This is equivalent to 83 years and 4 months. Therefore, whoever prays tonight will deserve the same blessings and reward for the period as if he or she had been praying for 83 years and 4 months consecutively.

Yep, you're probably thinking what I am thinking: There is going to be quite a crowd at each of the local mosques tonight!

I think I will be heading into Zenica's city centre to check it all out myself.

Heck, why not?

Speak soon, people!

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