News / Middle East

Arab World Gears Up for Holy Month of Ramadan

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

According to Islam's lunar-based calendar, the holy month of Ramadan is set to start on Wednesday in large parts of the Middle East, predicts a Saudi cleric.  Clerics also have issued a fatwa  - or religious edict - prohibiting price increases, a common practice during Ramadan.

Merchants across Cairo are stocking their shelves with dates, nuts, figs, and apricot paste for the start of the holy month of Ramadan.  Many also are stringing lights and lanterns to decorate for the event amid intense summer heat.

Ramadan starts with the first sighting of the crescent moon.  Cloud cover and geography mean that some countries begin a day or two earlier than others.  One Saudi cleric predicts that Ramadan will start next Wednesday in his country, as well as Egypt.  He says that the crescent moon will probably be sighted on Tuesday night in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and if there are witnesses and their sightings are corroborated by the religious court, then Ramadan will begin on Wednesday.

During Ramadan, people fast from sunrise to sunset across the Islamic world, abstaining from food and drink.  Since Ramadan this year starts during the summer, the heat will force many to curtail their activities.  Egypt will even set clocks back an hour to help people to cope.

After sunset and the sound of the Ramadan cannon, people eat their first meal, or iftar, which is often a copious, multiple course banquet.

Dates are traditionally an important part of the Ramadan celebration and markets here in Cairo sell dozens of varieties.  The finest dates are named after well-loved celebrities, and the more mediocre after familiar villains.  A food critic from the Gulf explains that dates are important, a well-known product of the Arabian desert and well-loved by Arabs.  He stresses that they are mentioned in the Koran and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed. He also notes that they go through five stages, all of which have many nutritional values.

Egyptians complain that prices of many foodstuffs are rising dramatically as Ramadan nears, making it hard for families to prepare meals.  The daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that a fatwa has been issued to forbid merchants from raising prices during Ramadan.

The dean of Cairo's venerable Al Azhar University, it adds, is calling the practice "unlawful" and contrary to Islamic sharia law.  Egypt's Ministry of Religious Affairs also is planning a small revolution, set to start with the onset of Ramadan, by creating one, official broadcast call to prayer.

The cacophony of poorly coordinated prayer calls across Cairo has long irritated many residents.  Though the project has met opposition from some clerics, the government has finally decided to implement the unified prayer call, which it has long considered.

Arab satellite television channels also are starting to advertise for this year's crop of Ramadan soap operas and mini-series, which are a popular staple during evening gatherings of family and friends.  Many stay up during the night to talk and watch TV, sleeping instead during the day.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid