Friday December 15, 2017

The holy month of Ramadan: Religious beliefs in a commercialized world

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By Rukma Singh

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief.

Welcome Ramadhan.jpg
A crescent moon can be seen over palm trees at sunset in Manama, Bahrain, marking the beginning of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, observers are expected to abstain from food, drink, and other pleasures from dawn to dusk. Leaving these activities out from the daily routine is intended to help the mind concentrate on prayer, spirituality, charity, and to purify the body and mind. Muslims are also expected to not indulge in negative activities such as gossiping and cursing. Some reports have also claimed that crime rates decrease during Ramadan, with a heavy decrease in the number of murders.

Exceptions

Fasting during Ramadan is believed to have been decided keeping in mind all kinds of social, physical as well as political factors. One isn’t forced to fast. Pregnant women, people who are mentally or physically ill, and sometimes women who are breastfeeding are specially excused from fasting because of their health constraints and nutritional requirements. Even children aren’t obliged to fast till the time they hit puberty.

Impact on daily life 

Ramadan in Egypt

In countries where Muslims are the majority, Ramadan has a drastic impact on daily life. Egypt pushes the clocks back an hour during the holy month so that the fast feels like it is ending earlier and the evenings are lengthened. Work days are made shorter during the month to accommodate the additional time spent in prayer and in enjoying festive meals to end the daily fast.

Economic consequences

Ramadan celebration in Mecca

If  bankers and economists in Muslim countries are to be believed, Ramadan almost always ushers in a month-long period of inflation as people drastically increase the amount of money spent on clothing and food. The prices of certain staples go up dramatically – according to a former Monitor correspondent in Cairo, during Ramadan a cup of tea can cost six times its normal price.

However, economic productivity also declines because of the shorter working hours and the general weakness among those abstaining from food and water all day.

Commercialism

Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan


In this highly profit driven world, no activity can be unlinked from the concept of money making. Like all celebrations and holidays, Ramadan has become largely commercialized around the world with waste and excess expenditures.

Advertisements skyrocket during the month, lavish buffets are offered and well spent on, and hotels in Mecca charge extraordinarily high prices to the pilgrims that fly to the holy city.  City dumps and hospitals are stretched to capacity because of the surge in food waste and gluttony.

At the end of Ramadan comes Eid ul Fitr, the celebration of which begins as soon as the new moon is sighted in the sky. Eid is an important festival for the Muslims. Amidst attending processions and exchanging gifts, Muslims must also contribute to a charity so that the poor may also celebrate the breaking of the fast.

Eid ul Fitr is also considered a time of reverence. Muslims praise Allah for helping them get through the month and ask for forgiveness for the sins they’ve committed.

 

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Myanmar violence: In Rakhine state of Myanmar houses have burned and around 400 people have died

The United Nations says at least 38,000 people have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, most of them are Rohingya

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Rohingya
A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA
  • Thousands of people have fled their villages and sought shelter in temples, schools, and mosques in other Rakhine town
  • Volunteers were struggling to find food for the displaced
  • Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be migrants from Bangladesh and not one of the country’s many ethnic minority groups

Rakhine, Myanmar, September 3, 2017:  About 400 people have died in violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state over the past week, military officials say, almost all of them Muslim insurgents.

A military Facebook page reported the numbers, saying 370 were insurgents, and 29 killed were either police or civilians.

Members of the minority Rohingya Muslim community, however, have reported attacks on their villages that left scores dead and forced thousands to flee.

Human Rights Watch said Saturday that satellite imagery recorded Thursday in the Rohingya Muslim village of Chein Khar Li in Rathedaung township shows the destruction of 700 buildings. The rights group says 99 percent of the village was destroyed and the damage signatures are consistent with fire, including the presence of large burn scars and destroyed tree cover.

“Yet this is only one of 17 sites that we’ve located where burnings have taken place,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director.

The United Nations says at least 38,000 people have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, most of them Rohingya. Community leaders in Bangladesh have told VOA that some Hindus, also a minority in Myanmar, have crossed the border.

Robertson said the U.N.’s Fact Finding Mission should get the “full cooperation” of Myanmar’s government “to fulfill their mandate to assess human rights abuses in Rakhine State and explore ways to end attacks and ensure accountability.”

HRW said Rohingya refugees who have recently fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh told the agency that Myanmar soldiers and police had burned down their homes and carried out armed attacks on villagers. The agency said many of the Rohingya refugees had “recent bullet and shrapnel wounds.”

Sources in Bangladesh have told VOA’s Bangla service that as many as 60,000 have crossed the border in recent days.

Struggling to feed displaced

In addition, thousands of people have fled their villages and sought shelter in temples, schools, and mosques in other Rakhine towns.

The deputy chairman of the Emergency Relief Committee, Khin Win, told VOA’s Burmese service by phone that 800 people are sheltering at two Buddhist monasteries in the town of Maungdaw.

“Security in Maungdaw is not even safe and some fled to Min Byar, Sittwe and Yathetaung. No one can guarantee their safety. People fleeing homes increasing and there are a few left in villages. There is only one police outpost in a village and police do not have the capability to protect villagers,” he said.

Volunteers were struggling to find food for the displaced, he said.

“We need drinking water, meat, fish, and medicines,” he said. The group has gotten rice and donations from other communities but little from the government.

“Government aid agency provided a few bags of beans and instant noodles. Three boxes of instant noodles for 500 people is not effective. Just a superficial help,” he said.

Also Read: Myanmar Woman May Khine Oo Shares Her Story of Human Trafficking to Prevent other Women from falling into the same trap

Hiding in forest

Hla Tun, a Rohingya from the village of Alae-Than-Kyaw, told the Burmese service that Muslims cannot rely on security forces for protection or help.

“Our villages are located near the rugged coastal area from south of Maungdaw to Alae-Than-Kyaw village. Almost every village has been burned down and people have nowhere to stay. People are hiding in the forest. In order to avoid authorities they can move only during night time to flee to Bangladesh,” Hla Tun said.

The violence began a week ago when a group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched a series of attacks on police posts in Rakhine, which is home to most of the Rohingya minority group. The police responded with attacks on villages, to hunt down the insurgents.

Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be migrants from Bangladesh and not one of the country’s many ethnic minority groups. Rohingya are denied citizenship, even if they can show their families have been in the country for generations.

Sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims has flared periodically for more than a decade. Until last month’s attacks, the worst violence was last October, when insurgents attacked several police posts, sparking a military crackdown that sent thousands fleeing to Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government has denied allegations of abuse against the Rohingya and has limited access to Rakhine to journalists and other outsiders; but, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations says the government plans to implement the recommendations of a U.N. commission to improve conditions and end the violence. (VOA)

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Islamic Yoga: Amalgamation of Yoga and Quranic Recitation by Muslim Women of Vadodara

A yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which around 52 Muslim women participated

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Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women
Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women. Pixabay
  • Yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion
  • Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting
  • I am a very good believer of Islam but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga

Vadodara, Gujarat, August 22, 2017: Does only one religion have an exclusive right over yoga? Is yoga to be practiced by Hindu’s only?  It’s is a long going debate if practicing yoga is permitted in Islam religion or not as it originated from being a form of Hindu worship. Different people of Muslim faith have contrasting opinions on it. Don’t worry!  A city-based foundation called Tadbeer Foundation has come up with an uncommon way to spread yoga amongst Muslims. They have mixed yoga with Quranic recitation.

A special yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which was attended by around 52 Muslim Women on August 20. The session was held at Taiyyebi Hall which is on Ajwa Road, Vadodara.

According to TNN report, Naasheta Bhaisaheb of the Tadbeer Foundation said, “Generally, women from our community stay away from doing yoga believing that it belongs to a particular faith. But yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion. Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting,”

She added that the Islamic yoga is a completely a new concept altogether and in this practice, Quranic recitation gets blended along with various yogic posture in which Muslim Women try to enhance the physical benefits of yoga by adding a spiritual touch with recitation.

“The yoga session was specially designed by our spiritual leader Saiyyedna Haatim Zakiyuddin Saheb and my husband Dr. Zulqarnain Bhaisaheb, a homeopathy doctor,” said Bhaisaheb.

ALSO READ: Yogatomics Training and Wellness Centre in Stonington, USA Uses Healing Sound to Bring Twist in Traditional Yoga Practices

For this particular session, an international yoga expert – Shabanaben Lalawala came especially from Mumbai. He targeted common problems which women often suffer from like osteoarthritis of knees, back pain, frozen shoulders and hip pain among other diseases. Yoga can help in providing relief from diseases like these to an extent and can also prevent women from having such diseases if they practice yoga on a regular basis.

She added, “In this session, we focused on 5 asanas. From next session onwards, we will be focusing on problems related to diabetes, thyroid and so on.”

ALSO READ: These 7 Yoga Practices Can Help You to Ease Your Wandering Mind and Enhance Concentration

A local Muslim woman got herself a private yoga practitioner to help her with yoga postures. Fatema Lokhandwala, a 43-year-old woman, who holds a master’s degree in medical microbiology, said “I am a very good believer of Islam religion but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga. Since last 4 years, I have been practicing yoga for which I got a private yoga practitioner. But the Islamic yoga that we did on Sunday was meant for physical, mental as well as spiritual upliftment and added more to what I was practicing so far,” mentions TNN report.

Shahina Chasmawalla, a 41-year-old lady, a resident of Vasna Road said “I am practicing yoga since last 5 years but Islamic yoga was a totally new concept for me. There is a taboo because of which some Muslim women don’t practice yoga. Anybody can practice yoga for its health benefits.”


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US Government’s International Religious Freedom Report 2016 lists Growing Attacks on Hindus

The report lists growing number of attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad

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Attacks against Hindus
International Religious Freedom Report. Facebook
  • On Tuesday, the US government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2016
  • The report lists the growing attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad
  • Particularly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia, the attacks against Hindus is common

US, August 17, 2017: On Tuesday, August 17, the US Government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) for the year 2016. The report lists growing number of attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad.

The report, released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, particularly talks about the growing number of assaults on Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Furthermore, there were also mentioned incidents of assault against Sikhs in Denmark and France.

ALSO READ: 2017 Hindu Human Rights Report Released by Hindu American Foundation (HAF): Here is What you Need to Know!

Interestingly, the recent incidents of Gau Rakshaks of India are also presented in the report. It has highlighted the increasing attack against individuals from minority groups by cow-protection activists.

In Bangladesh especially, there has been a sharp increase in the attacks against Hindus who constitute the religious minority of the country. This can be attributed to the presence of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The IRFR also reports an incident from October in Bangladesh. Over a Facebook post that some may find offensive to Islam, more than 50 Hindu families and over 15 Hindu temples were ruined by hundreds of villagers. This attack claimed the lives of 25 people.

The report has also recognized Pakistan government’s inability to help safeguard the rights of religious minorities, particularly Hindus. But a larger problem that exists in Pakistan is the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.

ALSO READ: Forced Conversion of Hindus in Umerkot and Tharparkar Districts

There have also been offenses against the Sikh community present in France and Denmark. In France, Turbans are banned in schools, offices, and other public spaces. In Denmark, court judges are prohibited from wearing the turbans. These bans include the religious symbols as well as crucifixes.

In England and Wales, 1,055 crimes against other religions such as Hindus, Sikhs, and few Christians were recorded by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the US government report.

From April-November 2016, eight Hindu temples were vandalized in Malaysia. Hindu leaders of the country have alleged that the police is ignorant of the problems.

[bctt tweet=”US Government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) for the year 2016.” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

Zakir Naik, controversial figure in India, was warmly received by the Malaysian government as Hindus protested his speaking tour. Zakir Naik’s speech is always intended to insult Hindus and promote extremism. Bangladesh, on the other hand, had banned Zakir Naik’s Peace TV Bangla as it was spreading extremist ideologies.

In Fiji, three Hindu temples were desecrated in 2016. In Mauritius, no religious violence took place despite the growing tensions between Hindus and Muslims.

This report by the US Commission has come under heavy fire from the Hindu American Foundation. The leaders of the foundation have asserted that the International Religious Freedom Report was outsourced to writer and activist Dr. Iqtidar Karamat Cheema than being written by the staff of the US commission. The Foundation’s allegations have raised questions about the nature of credibility of the commission.

Furthermore, the Foundation claims that the author has cited “alternative facts.” Also interesting to note is that Dr. Cheema has been honored by several Pakistani government bodies previously who has supported separatist agendas.

–  prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.