Wednesday, November 2

Ramadan and Islamic Oddities

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. One thing that Muslims observe is fasting each day. So what happens if you happen to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan? Below find a copy of a notice issued by a hotel for this year's Ramadan Holiday:

(Click to enlarge)

Find anything strange about this notice? Isn't it strange that there will still be a buffet each day and that you can get breakfast, lunch, dinner and alcohol? But if you are a Muslim, they will not serve alcohol to you, during Ramadan. During the rest of the year, they will gladly serve to Muslims. Sounds pretty tolerant to me.

It is taboo to use your left hand in Muslim cultures. Hell, it was (is?) taboo in the US too. When I was small, my father tried relentlessly to force me to use my right hand, fearing that I would have problems in society if I grew up left-handed. However, I turned out to be much more forceful in using my left hand. (My brother went through the same 'torture' and now uses both hands.)

I was aware of the left-hand taboo when I was traveling in the region. It caused me a little concern, but once I was there I had used my left hand so often by accident that I quickly gave up attempting to use my right hand. If I happened to offend anyone in the process, so be it. Anyway, the shopkeepers had no problem taking money from my left hand. So taking a look around the Internet, I can see that there are left-handed Muslims. Wondering how they are treated, I found a good degree of tolerance for these left-handed people. Although the 'Ask the Imam' website forbids even left-handed people from using their left hand for eating. This is ridiculous. But I did find this question and answer from another Imam which I think is a great read for all left-handed people:

Q325 :I am a 12 year old student, and I am left-handed. People have often reminded me not to eat or write with my left hand, because people who do so will not go to heaven; they will go to hell. I have tried to use my right hand for eating and writing, but I always feel that my right hand is weaker. I will be grateful for your advice.

A325 : Let me tell you straight away that no one will go to hell for using his left hand for eating, drinking, writing or indeed for any other purpose. Any one who suggests otherwise does not know and makes a huge assumption which he cannot substantiate. Indeed such a person betrays a degree of ignorance of God, His compassion and fairness.

What we have to remember is that God knows every aspect of a person's abilities, motives and intentions. A left handed person does not choose to make his right hand the weaker hand. This is something that he is created with and cannot change just like [he cannot change] the color of his [skin,] eyes or his hair. So God will not ask anyone why he is left-handed, because it is He who has created him. Besides, using one's right hand for eating and most other purposes is recommended, or a sunnah. This means that it is not obligatory. On the Day of Judgment, God will not ask any person why that person has not done something that is not obligatory. Nor will he punish anyone for not doing such a non-obligatory matter. He will look at what recommended practices we do in this life and reward us for them. But He will not punish us for omitting any of them.

In the question of which hand to use for eating, God will reward those of us using their right hands only if they choose to do so in response to the Prophet's recommendations or to follow his example. In other words, His reward is not for the action itself but for intention behind the action. Hence, if a left-handed person trains himself patiently to eat and drink with his right hand until this becomes quite easy for him, and he does all that in order to follow the Prophet's example, he is sure to earn more reward than a person who does the same but does not have the added difficulty of being left-handed. I know some people who have done that. Their action is certainly commendable. The habit they acquired has become natural to them to the extent that they do practically everything with their left hands but when they eat they use their right hands. Perhaps you could do likewise and be patient until it comes naturally to you. You only need to be patient with yourself. But if you find it too difficult, then you should not bother about what people may say. You just explain that this is a natural difficulty and that it is God who created you so.

This last weekend I had went walking downtown and by the White House there was a group of Muslims. One of them was carrying a Koran, in his left hand.

One of the more amusing things that I learned about Islam while I was there was that Allah has 'blind-spots.' In other words Allah is not all-knowing, all-seeing.

Some Muslim shipyard workers come onboard the ship and immediately they pull out their cigarettes (during Ramadan.) I tell them that they are not allowed to smoke. Their reply was interesting to say the least "No, is o.k. Allah is not here." I then not so politely pointed out the huge "NO SMOKING" sign in huge red capital letters painted above his head. This was in Dubai. (They were most depressed.)

I wonder, if Allah cannot see what is going on an American-Flag ship, would he not see what is happening in America itself? In the Seaman's Mission in Dubai, they had a book at the entrance where Muslims signed before entering acknowledging that alcohol is served inside the mission; that they are Muslims, and that Muslims do not consume alcohol.

This brings me to the Island-State of Bahrain. It is connected to Saudi Arabia by a bridge. Allah does not see past the bridge. On Bahrain, Muslims, mainly from Saudi Arabia, can pretty much do whatever they want. Smoke, drink, whatever. I was in an Irish bar, and in the room next door, there were a bunch of Saudi men, all dressed in white, sitting in Laz-e-Boys with water pipes next to each chair. They were smoking and drinking and watching two scantily-clad women from the UK dancing on a stage. I bet that Allah would not approve. My boss has told me that Allah cannot see what goes on inside hotels either. Come to think of it, that can be a pretty handy character of a God.

So if Allah can be tolerant for left-handedness, and turn a blind eye at certain times, what about pigs and pork? We all can see how the UK is handling the pig issue. Not only are real pigs bad, but even images of pigs, and cartoon pigs of all things. Banks are tossing piggy banks as part of this pig purge. But then we have Michael Totten's 'Middle East Journal' where he clearly illustrates the position of pigs in the Middles East.

Look. I’m in Lebanon. Somewhere around 35 or 40 percent of the people who live here are Christian. Except for around 60 Jews, the rest are Muslims. This is a Muslim-majority country. Muslims outnumber Christians approximately two to one. And yet pork – pork – is all over this place. I had a pizza for lunch today. My pizza had ham on it. Not fake halal “ham,” but actual pig meat. The restaurant that served me this pizza is on the Muslim side of the city. - MJT

So apparently pork is not a problem. Sounds like Muslims can be a really tolerant bunch. There is evidence even here of this. Sometimes when I go food shopping, there is Muslim woman at the checkout (wearing a hijab) and she handles my pork products just like all the others. Am I disrespecting her religion by bringing pork to her? Apparently not. I would even bet that there are Muslims who are fans of Piglet, and apparently some Muslims do eat pork. (How about a nice hotdog?)

So it appears that the West's efforts to wipe pigs off the face of the Earth is of no importance to Muslims, then what can we do to make Muslims happy? What matters to them?

I understand that the President of Iran knows what he wants. Of course the rest of the world is not going to give it to him. Might he be willing to solve this problem himself? Should we do something about this, or just write it off to cultural differences?

Left-handedness - Islam City

Piggy banks 'offend UK Muslims' - The Age, Australia

Who’s Afraid of the Pig? - Michael J. Totten


cemre said...

interesting... i live in turkey but never heard of the left hand thing... and there are no legal restrictions on doing whatever during ramadan etc. and that 'allah isn't/doesn't see here' thing is so ridiculous.

maybe after all i shouldn't consider turkey a real muslim country, the name 'muslim' is there but nobody seems to follow anything.

Fred Fry said...

Thanks for the comment. I have not been to Turkey, but I would consider it somewhat more mainstream than the place I visited in the Middle East. You can confirm the left-hand taboo via a quick search in Google.

As for God's blind-spots, all I can say is that the post accurately reflects my experiences with the issue. I'll even state it again, the shipyard workers believed that God could not observe their activity on our ship and that Muslims were doing things in Bahrain that I would consider against Islam.

Anonymous said...

to me there are three types of muslims:

1.true practising muslims, who are humble, who dont drink and they know that god is always watching

2.muslims by birth and want to fit in more with the west since they are to some degree embarrassed about belonging to a minority religion which the media constantly degrades and belittles

3.the muslims who go overboard and think every thing is wrong or bad and are very backwards in their teachings

most people have the misfortune to meet the second and third type of muslims and assume the entire muslim population is the same.

padre said...


SweetTransexual said...

Yes, cigarettes have pig in them, you are going straight to hell! Enjoy your devil-swine cancer sticks!