The Festival of Ramadan

“Now is the time to unite the soul and the world,
Now is the time to see the sunlight dancing as one with the shadows” Rumi

CPT Palestine team is happy to be able to experience the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in al-Khalil (Hebron), standing with the Palestinian community in celebrating this holy month. We hope that it will be full of joy and happiness and rewarding.
To celebrate Ramadan, al Khalil has set aside the pain of the Occupation as far as possible and donned a joyful and festive look. It is, as Rumi says, “the sunlight dancing as one with the shadows.” Ramadan lights dangle decoratively from ornate strings of flickering yellow, green, and red. Shops reopen after the breaking of the fast with vendors selling colorful, attractive and enticing sweets of different hues, shapes and sizes. The city is alive and there is an air of celebration at all hours of the night. A festive atmosphere welcomes thousands of pious men, women and children who flock to the Ibrahimi Mosque, especially on Fridays for the noon prayer.

In our desire to understand Ramadan, we spoke to a few local people about what Ramadan means to them. Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims who believe it was during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s sacred text, to Mohammed, on a night known as “The Night of Decree”. It is meant to be a time of spiritual discipline — of deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity and generosity, and intense study of the Quran.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the testimony of faith, prayer, charitable giving, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. The practice of fasting serves spiritual and social purposes: to remind people of their human frailty and dependence on God for sustenance, to show what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty so one feels compassion for (and a duty to help) the poor and needy.
Leila, one of the local Muslim women in the Souk, shared her understanding of fasting. She said that food is not everything in life, and that fasting is a symbol of emptying oneself to be close to Allah, who is the life energy of the soul. There is also the added sense of community and support in the knowledge that all are fasting together.

Muslims are also encouraged to try to curb negative thoughts and emotions like jealousy and anger. Some people also choose to give up or limit activities like listening to music and watching television, often in favor of listening to recitations of the Quran.
For Palestinians, the Occupation affects the celebration of Ramadan in a negative way.
On 18th May, the First Friday in Ramadan thousands of Palestinians made their way through Israeli installed military checkpoints to Ibrahimi Mosque in Occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) for the noon-prayer. Between 11.30am and 12.50pm, approximately 1700 men, 600 women, 300 girls and 2000 boys passed through two or three checkpoints depending where they came from. Before entering into the mosque itself, they were obligated to pass another checkpoint. Young adult males were body-searched or forced to take off their belts before passing through the metal-detector at the checkpoint, causing delays. A drone, presumably from the Israeli forces, flew overhead the whole time filming, at one time, directly over a group of men standing outside for prayer. The overall military presence creates a sense of fear and uncertainty, which is not totally erased even during this festive season.
Watch the following video clip about a Muslim’s child’s fears and dreams during this season of Ramadan.

Despite the Occupation, for the people in Hebron Ramadan is a time of celebration and joy to be spent with loved ones, culminating in the three day Religious Festival of Eid-Al-Fitr.

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