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Ramadan 'a month of cleansing'

This article was published in the
Gulf News

 13 November 2002

A prominent Iraqi writer has criticised the abundance of trivial entertainment on television during Ramadan, pointing out that the month is meant for self-discipline and repentance.

"Ramadan is a month of worship and cleansing yourself from sins. Fasting restrains the self from cruelty, spite and excess. Ramadan is a school where one learns all that is good.

In Ramadan, the entire Muslim nation fasts and eats together, regardless of the time differences in minutes and hours. Ramadan is not a month for music, serials and quiz programmes, as they are heresies," Mohammed Rajeb Alsamara'e told Gulf News.

Alsamara'e, an Iraqi author who has a number of publications on Arab literature and heritage to his credit, was lecturing at the Emirates Writers and Literates Union on the impact of Ramadan on Arab and Islamic culture. The lecture was part of a series of presentations the union is holding in commemoration of the month.

In the lecture, the Iraqi writer used excerpts from his book 'Ramadan in Arab and Islamic Culture' which was published this year. Alsamara'e highlighted important events that took place during Ramadan.

"History has recorded a number of events that occurred in Ramadan which indicate the greatness of the month. It was during Ramadan that the first divine revelations from Allah Almighty's Holy Book were sent to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in the cave of Hira at Thoor mountain in Makkah," said Alsamara'e. 

He drew attention to the Great Battle of Badr which took place on Friday, 17th of Ramadan in the second year of Al Hijri (migration) 624 AD.

Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) entered Makkah victoriously and peacefully on the 20th of Ramadan in the eighth year of Al Hijri 630 AD. Ramadan was also the month when Muslims entered Spain under the leadership of Tariq bin Ziyad, after whom the Mediterranean island Gibraltar is named.

The Iraqi writer's lecture covered the topic of suhoor which is the last meal before the break of dawn and the beginning of the fast.

"Since the time of the Prophet (PBUH) there were ways of announcing that it was time for suhoor. Muslims of that period knew it was time to have their last meal before fasting when they heard the azan (call to prayer) made by Bilal bin Rabah.

"They also knew that the next azan by Ibn Um Maktoum meant the start of the fast. Bilal bin Rabah, one of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH), is considered to be the first to announce suhoor in history."

Alsamara'e concluded the lecture by talking about the confections that are very popular during Ramadan such as baklawa, zalabia, kunafa and luqaimat alqadi.