The “Bat-Ramadan” Situation

“Is that the new moon for Ramadan?…no wait…it’s the Bat Signal!”

For movie geeks, the third and final film in director Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” is opening up in theaters on July 20th, 2012 – which  coincidentally is the 1st day or night of Ramadan (depending on if you follow local moon sighting or not)!

There has been much discussion online on whether or not young Muslims should go and watch the movie because of its unfortunate release during  Ramadan  - the holiest month for Muslims where we fast from dawn till sunset everyday for a month.  To see The Dark Knight or not to see it until the end of Ramadan (around Aug 19th)?  There is even a facebook group called: “Dark Knight Rises should be either released before or after Ramadan!!!

For most Muslims, this is not a pressing issue due to the following reasons:

  1. They do not care about grown men dressed in spandex fighting crime.
  2. They believe  Ramadan is more important than watching any movie.
  3. They have a life.

But for the rest of us geek/nerd/freak/dweeb American Muslims, the cursed timing of the movie’s release presents a massive dilemma.  Although  I try my  best to pray 5 times a day and eat only zabihah halal meat, I still watch “un-islamic” shows about Vampires and Werewolves such as “TrueBlood” and “TeenWolf”. I also am a movie addict and have seen all the Batman movies. My favorite was “The Dark Knight” (2008), but I also enjoyed the 1989 original “Batman” with Michael Keaton.  I even had a poster of him in my bedroom when I was in high school.  So, like many practicing, American Muslim geeks, I empathize with their predicament.. Of course, we know the importance of Ramadan. We will be fasting and most likely be going to Taraweeh prayers (late night prayers which are held at the mosque – specifically during the month of Ramadan). But, we cannot afford to wait an entire month before seeing the final Batman movie due to the dreaded shaitaan known as spoilers! There are rumors that Batman will be “killed” and the whole world will inevitably be posting on facebook, blogging, and tweeting the entire plot online! Here are my options:

Option A:             If Ramadan does in fact start on Friday July 20th per scientific calculations, then I will probably go watch the movie during the day time (while fasting) on Saturday or Sunday of opening weekend.  This is not my preferred choice, because I always like to have a small bag of popcorn and a Cherry Icee (frozen slush drink which is made of pretty much just pure sugary syrup and ice)!  My movie watching experience will not be very nice, especially since it will probably be a hot day (we are talking about July in California here)!

Option B:             If Ramadan starts on Saturday July 21st per local moon sighting (the new moon although born on July 19th, will not be visible in North America until the evening of Friday July 20th, thus making the first day of Fasting on Saturday July 21st), then on the evening of Friday July 20th, after the first Taraweeh prayers (which will probably end around 11:30pm), I will try to go see the movie at the midnight showing on opening day (Friday July 20th).  This way, I will be able to eat some tasty, yet very unhealthy, movie watching snacks and also fully enjoy the movie.

As a last resort, I can pray to Allah (God) that a miracle happens and the release of “The Dark Knight Rises”  gets delayed by a month. Then,  I can watch it on Eid (the celebratory “feast” after the month of Ramadan is over) so I don’t have to worry about any of this and can enjoy the movie without any feelings of guilt or receiving fatwas for watching a movie during the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time of worship, prayers, fasting and spending time with family and friends over a good evening meal (iftaar – the breaking of the day long fast) everyday. I still have not yet decided on what I will do about the “Bat-Ramadan” situation, but I don’t think God would mind, if I spent 2.5 hours of one of those Holy days and nights of Ramadan watching a movie.  But just in case I will make Dhikhr (remembrance of God) while I’m in line waiting to get into the theater!:)

  • Edward Carter

    Why can’t you just watch it on Eid without the release date being delayed, with the theater being less crowded as a result?

    • irfanrydhan

      Hi Edward. Thanks for your comments. The problem with waiting for Eid, is that it will be one month after the movie comes out. By then the whole plot line will be all over the internet and people will be posting spoilers, etc. Hard to avoid in this day and age of 24 hours media.

  • imran

    heh. great commentary on our predicament. what to do, what to do…

    • irfanrydhan

      thanks for your feedback!

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    Sounds like a plan!

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  • http://www.poptheology.com Ryan

    I also don’t think God (or any of us!!) would mind if you also posted some theological reflections on the film after you see it. Nolan’s versions of the Batman narrative have been full of theological/moral/ethical implications and complications…not totally unlike the one you’re about to be caught up in! Thanks for the post.

    • irfanrydhan

      thanks for the comment James. Yes, you have a point. Look forward to watching the final Batman film in the Nolan series!

  • http://www.freeonlinemessages.com/category/ramadan-messages ramadan messages

    This way, I will be able to eat some tasty, yet very unhealthy, movie watching snacks and also fully enjoy the movie.

  • Imran

    AA Irfan,

    Love the article! I’m sure many of us will be waging an innner war between good and evil, trying to figure out the best way to gain as many good deeds and watch the movie at the same time.

    • irfanrydhan

      WS Imran. Thanks for the comment. Yes, it will be difficult situation for people like us! Still debating on whether to watch midnight showing or wait until the daytime!

  • http://britishmisk.wordpress.com Mohammed Khan

    I too will be going for the day time option, all of us spend some part of Ramadan wasting time when we shouldn’t, personally watching TDKR is a better way to waste it. In this faqir’s opinion anyway.

  • jd dalton prodigy

    Hmm. How can i be respectful.
    Dude, it’s a movie.
    Muslims aren’t allowed a little entertainment during Ramadan? I understand trying to be spiritual and spend your holy month in reflection and time with family, etc., but this is EXACTLY the kind of stuff that us non-muslim Americans find EXTREMELY problematic with your “religion”: you Muslim people are really, really weird when it comes to the basics of your religion. This article sounds like you’re a crazy fundamentalist who will miss out on Heaven because you chose Batman over the Burqa. It does NOT make it seems like you’re a comic book dweeb (though you may be both – I don’t know what you look like).

    This article is an admission of some really scary stuff. I hope people who looking to fund anti-Shariah bills give this article a read as possible resource for their case against Islam in the free world. And I am being totally serious.

    Perhaps this was meant to be a light, humorous article. But it’s not. It is just strange… and without being disrespectful, this is indicative and reflective of your ENTIRE community – or at least the spiritual ones who practice Ramadan.

    And the Burqa Batman picture – that is just plain F–ked up. I wouldn’t even let my kids see a piucture like that of a stoneage woman. Or maybe that’s just what she wears when she’s making your popcorn ;-)

    I respect your rights to live peaceful and within the law of the USA. We all have a place here – and there are others who may do even more crazy stuff. But seriously, I accidently stumbled across your article. And I promise you – I will probably not be reading anything from the Muslim community ever again. The more I learn about your way of life, the more repressive and repulsive it seems.

    This article is totally twisted and makes me sick.

    • irfanrydhan

      Hi JD
      thanks for your comments. the post is humorous and not too serious. most people will still go watch the movie even during Ramadan (including myself), but during Ramadan a lot of Muslims try their best to avoid their “normal routines” such as watching excessive tv, movies, listening to music, etc. – and try to focus on their spiritual lives and being a better person. Normally we give more charity this month, we pray more, we help out people in need more. It is just a more spiritual time. But of course we are all human and we still like to be entertained and have a good time, especially in this day and age of 24 hours non-stop media and entertainment. People such as myself are just trying to find a balance between our religious and secular lives.
      Feel free to contact me via email at irfan dot rydhan at gmail.com if you have any other specific questions or concerns.
      peace
      Irfan

      • just a reader

        Speaking of TV and Ramadan, I remembered this approach from some other Muslims (showing how diverse Muslims are!): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4338172.stm

        “…being presented this Ramadan as part of the now traditional feast of TV, that is become one of the essential sights and sounds of Islam’s holiest month…

        “…Ramadan is the biggest time of year for Arab television as the multitude of old and new stations that have sprung up in the past few years compete for the attention of tens of millions of Arab families brought together for the month-long celebrations.

        “More than 100 TV series are produced specially for Ramadan.

        “Each is divided into episodes to run every night of the month. That is at least 30 hours per series.

        “Most have been coming off the conveyor belt from the Egyptian TV industry for years…”

        Anyway, it’s been a while since Dark Knight Rises was released, but for next time…

        …maybe you could combine the movie premiere with sharing good times with family and friends, bringing them with you to the cinema so you can enjoy the movie and each other’s company together? :)

        • irfanrydhan

          thanks for your comments. Yes, Ramadan is actually a big TV month in the middle east and Muslim countries – mainly because they show religious based programs during then, but also special series as you stated.

    • Jonthon

      As a non-Muslim who has been living in Indonesia for the last few years as a Fulbright scholar, and who has many Muslim friends, I can first say I totally see the dilemma Irfan presented! Not eating during the day can be a bit tiring, and when I’m tired, sometimes it’s hard to focus the entirety of my attention…and Nolan’s latest release will probably warrant that, as demonstrated by the fact that many people will probably go see it more than once!

      I’m put off by JD Dalton Prodigy’s comments. I didn’t see anything at all in this article that could have been cause for alarm, but in his comments, I see the sort of xenophobic thinking that still plagues my country. His ignorance of fasting (“the spiritual ones who practice Ramadan” suggests he is not aware that it is one of the five things Muslims *have* to do to be Muslim!), combined with his overt interesting in *remaining* ignorant (“And I promise you – I will probably not be reading anything from the Muslim community ever again…” – even though he will and won’t know it, as many of his favorite media personalities are Muslim without him being aware of it, re: Dave Chapelle, Mos Def, Rasheed Wallace, Fareed Zakaria…) suggests that he has no interest in exploring his prejudices and just respecting people for who they are. If showing concern about how Ramadan might affect when one can watch a movie is “fundamentalist,” his is a scary world indeed!

      (If JD is a girl, I pre-emptively strike down all my masculine pronouns and replace them with feminine ones!)

      • irfanrydhan

        Thanks for your comments Jonathan. I appreciate your support! Peace.

    • Mark

      if you are a christian then you should learn to practice your faith and what Jesus taught instead of bad mouthing Islam and calling it stone age. Jesus lived like a true “Muslim”. He gave us everything to serve God and he wasn’t driving an SUV, collecting cash, or watching movies and having beers. Jesus would be extreme according to your views.

  • Saheem

    So sweet! May Allah hear your prayers :D

  • http://communityradioshow.com Hadi Panah

    While I grew up my parents told me that during Ramadan we should not be watching TV and listening to music ect… Bu then one day a friend of min who was jamming in his car during ramadan said that why is it ok to watch XYZ but not during Ramadan as long as you don’t do it in excess i.e taking time away from devotion to God.

    • irfanrydhan

      thanks for your comment Hadi. I usually do try to minimize my tv/movie time during Ramadan, but i think once in awhile is okay (preferably after iftaar though:))!

  • http://www.organiclightphoto.com Youssef Ismail

    You are hilarious Irfan. Good luck on this. I’ll probably just wait until it comes out on netflix. :)

    • irfanrydhan

      JazakAllah Br. Youssef. Thanks for reading!

  • Marwa

    I pre ordered my tickets for the midnight showing on the 20th a while ago -____- A huge part of me is begging me to give in to the temptation and go watch it, the other good side of me is saying its not worth it. Im stumped.

    • irfanrydhan

      salaams Marwa. Thanks for your comments. Yes its a dilemma. Let me know what you end up deciding on what to do.

      thanks

      Irfan

  • Hilary

    I have a similar situation facing me this December. I’m Jewish and a huge Lord of the Rings Fan. So – do I celebrate the overlapping Shabbat & Hanukah on Dec. 14, or go to opening night of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit? Hanukah or Hobbit? Hobbit or Hanukah? Or do I just slap a yarmulka on my head and go watch the movie already? Can I go dressed like a Middle-Earth Maccabbee? Does G-d even like LOTR?

    Choices, choices. All we can do is hope the Almighty has a good sense of humor.

    Hilary

    • irfanrydhan

      Thanks for your comments Hilary! Yes, I believe God will not mind if we miss one day or part of one holy day in our respective religions. Hopefully….:)

      • Hilary Major

        Hey, I figured it out. Both Ramadan and Hanukah are more then one day, like 40 days and 8 days, respectively. So missing one evening for a movie isn’t like we’re skipping out on the whole holiday. Also, both religions stress donating money as a spiritual matter, I think you guys call it Zadak, (sp?) we call it tzedakah. So we go to the movies, but donate the same amount of money as we spend on tickets to an appropriate charity. That way we can both get our geek on and be religious about it!

        Hilary

        • irfanrydhan

          Hi Hilary. Thanks for the suggestions! Ramadan is 29 or 30 days (depending on the lunar month cycle) and our religously obligated charity is called “Zakat”! Good idea about donating the ticket amount to charity. Movie tickets are pretty expensive these days, especially for 3D or IMAX. Gotta watch the Dark Knight in IMAX too:)!

  • Armaan

    “Temptations” relates to everyone – in any case..but to overcome all of them remember that every SACRIFICE will be rewarded in the highest degree and since this message is not being taking as seriously as it should have been..I would want to share a recent lecture I heard from Sheikh Saleh Al Maghamsi – cannot quote exactly but it was
    “if any desires or temptations bother you then just remember THE HIGHEST & THE BEST BLESSING FOR A BELIEVER – MEETING WITH THE LORD ALMIGHTY – being able to SEE HIM” THE BEAUTY – THE MIGHT – THE PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH – THE BEST of all blessings – better than crossing the pul-sirat – being saved on the judgement day – saved from hell fire & entering the paradise & WATCHING ALMIGHTY ALLAH”. Allah TaAla is the greatest.

    So whenever Satan makes you think about the importance of your desires – show him that you care about the above blessings more. And just 2 more things to share before I take your leave :

    1. On the day of judgement out of 7 groups who will be blessed with protection under the THROWN OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH are – young people who has been brought up to worship Allah – as there is nothing more rewarding than the Sujood’s of the young age. So think about it.

    2. On the day of judgement – where even the blood relations are going to run from each other – the SUN will be on its highest degree and every one worried about their nam-emamaal..there will be people about whom it is said in Quran 36:55 “Verily, the dwellers of the paradise, that Day, will be busy with joyful things” Subhanallah. May Almighty Allah save us from Hell fire & bless us, our families & friends in the best groups on the day of Judgement. Allahmma Ameen.

    Make sure to add these 2 blessings in your list of duas during Iftar. Jazakumullahu khairan

  • Mohammed

    Don’t forget the power of Allah’s Remembrance (Dhikr)! It is the most powerful of all the defenses. Regular reading of prescribed Du’as will develop your Taqwa (consciousness) and keep you mindful of what thoughts you entertain.
    Remember your Accountability to Allah. In Islam, you’re fully accountable as soon as you understand and feel such temptations. Your eyes will testify about what you looked at on the Day of Judgment.
    Always walk with your gaze lowered. But make sure not to bump into a hydro post! Lowering the gaze does not mean that you cannot have any ‘eye contact’ as you walk or during a conversation. It means that you keep your eyes under control.
    Take the Right Seat! In a public place (e.g. café), choose a seat that minimizes your view-frame and avoid mixed-crowds. It is precisely about such comfortable gazing at the attractive features of the passers-by that the Prophet (pbuh) advised ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib: “Ali, do not let a second look follow the first. The first look is allowed to you but not the second.”(Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi.)
    Hangout with those known for noble character and modesty. When you are around good people, they can remind you to abstain from that which Allah dislikes. As the Prophet (pbuh) said, “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friends, so be careful about who you make your friend.” (Ahmad.)
    Avoid friends that are into immoral movies, music, dirty jokes etc. Such activities are the tools of Shaytan that promote the idea of ‘love based on looks’ or ‘love at first sight’. Such friends would take you into an artificial world of fantasies and false hopes, away from reality, before it’s too late! Therefore, either you help your friends change through gentle advice, or abandon frequent contact with them. As Allah warns us: “If anyone withdraws himself from Allah’s remembrance, Most Gracious, We appoint for him an evil one to be his intimate companion.” [43: 36.]
    Avoid visiting malls and parks alone. Always try to go out with a family member or a good friend, whose company may help you avert your eyes from the objectionable billboards and inappropriately clothed people. In summer, step out only when you have to.
    Surf or Watch TV when others are around. The temptation to sneak a look at dirty pictures is heightened when you’re alone in your room watching TV or surfing the internet. Shaytan’s primary target is always a lonely person! Try to avoid late night TV and internet surfing.
    Never have ‘nothing to do’! Shaytan loves ‘bored and idle’ people. If you are feeling bored, do the dishes, or take out the garbage, or read some book. Allah says, “Do not throw yourself into destruction with your own hands.” [2: 195.]
    Volunteer for Islamic Organizations. Your Jihad against immorality in the society is one reason for you to join Muslim youth groups in your community. Your involvement with such activities, along with the love of helpful brothers or sisters struggling for a good cause, will keep your mind, energies, and thoughts focused away from the Haram.
    Read, Read, and Read! Yes, read as many Islamic books and articles as possible. Reading keeps your mind and eyes busy! It keeps you motivated to live your Islam and strengthens your relationship with Allah.
    Always remember that the beauty of this world is temporary and the life hereafter is everlasting.
    Observe voluntary fast to strengthen your willpower and to cool your passions. The Prophet (pbuh) strongly recommended the youth to make it a habit.
    If you are able and responsible then get married for the sake of Allah. It may be one of the most effective, yet challenging, defense mechanisms against such temptations.
    For Brothers, remember your Mom and Sister. Disgusting right? Exactly! No sane person would look at his mom or sister the way many of us examine the girls on TV shows or stare at our Muslim sisters in social gatherings. This thought should sicken you enough to stop, In-sha-Allah.
    Remind yourself of the Death and Hereafter often. “Remember often the terminator (or destroyer) of all the pleasures [i.e. death],” the Prophet (pbuh) once reminded us. (at-Tirmidhi.)
    Increase your Good Actions. Try following the advice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Remain conscious of Allah and fear Him wherever you are. And follow a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards people.” (at-Tirmidhi.)
    Repent and Return to Allah. Allah is All-forgiving and loves those who return to Him, promising not to repeat their sins. “Ask forgiveness from your Lord, then turn towards Him in repentance; He will loosen the sky over you in abundance, and He will add strength unto your strength.” [11: 52].

  • Mark

    The purpose of Ramadan is to remember your Lord, the Creator of All things. The purpose of fasting during Ramadan is to cleanse you of sins and bring you closer to God, to attain a higher level of spirituality and consciousness. Reading Al Koran, Fasting, becoming introspective. God only asks for a few minutes out your day 5 times a day and then He asks for one month to celebrate the blessing of Al Koran and to remember He who gave it. You shouldn’t even be debating “should I honor Ramadan or go see a Batman movie?”
    Which is more important to you? God or a movie?
    my fellow muslims love quoting Hadith and Sunnah when it is convenient and in this case I can guarantee you that the Prophet wasn’t watching movies during Ramadan.
    Respect yourself and Honor God. The freakin movie can wait. God comes first. He created you and gave you life. You have 11 months where you can watch TV and movies, one month away from the idiot box won’t kill you. Give your spirit and mind a break and rejuvenate your soul and get closer to God.
    Christians have watered down and sold their faith, not surprising that muslims have done the same. I guess God is only there when you need something. God has become to a genie, all you do is rub the lamp and make a wish.
    Besides, Legendary Pictures, one of the studios behind the new Batman movie, produced one of the most Anti-Muslim comic books I have ever seen. It was written by Frank Miller and it is called “Holy Terror”. You really want to give your money to a studio that produces Anti-Islam and Anti Muslim propaganda?

    • irfanrydhan

      Hi Mark. Thanks for your comments. You make some valid points. Yes, I know about the “Holy Terror” graphic novel by Frank Miller. Although it was originally meant to be a Batman story, it was later changed to a new character and is not related to Batman. I don’t think Legendary Pictures is behind the “Holy Terror” graphic novel either. But in any case, I do my best to practice my religion of Islam and although I am not perfect, I think it’s okay to once in awhile watch TV or a movie during Ramadan – especially if there is nothing specifically un-Islamic in it.

      • Mark

        Legendary pictures is behind the Holy Terror comic as it was released under their comic book division.

      • Mark

        here is the link: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/frank-millers-holy-terror-launch-206258

        you are free to do what you want and there is nothing wrong with watching movies and television shows. But, when those movies and programs become part of Ramadan then there is something very insidious and hypocritical in it. Fasting during Ramadan is meant to strengthen, cleanse and reconnect the person with faith in God. Watching movies or even worse sleeping while fasting is on par with a soldier sleeping or watching a movie while the battle is raging.

  • muslimah1991

    Assalamalaikum,
    I just wanted to say that I went to a lecture yesterday on how to prepare for Ramadan. One thing I wanted to share with you is that even if a Muslim spends the entire month of Ramadan in worship, avoiding all sins, and doing everything right, they can erase all of this effort in just one day. That is the day of Eid, which we unfortunately think is all about dressing up and going to parties, but it is really a time to reflect on the fact that Ramadan is over. Eid should be celebrated, but only the way our Prophet (pbuh) celebrated it. The fact that you are considering watching a movie on the day of Eid worries me, because even if you resist watching Batman all of Ramadan, you will wipe out all your efforts of the entire month in that one day. Please, understand how insignificant your dilemma is. On the Day of Judgment, you will regret the fact that you watched a 2 hour movie instead of reaping the benefits of this holy month, during which Allah (SWT) gives us the chance to earn our place in Jannah. Don’t let the glamor of this world distract you from what lies ahead for us, which is the permanence of the Hereafter. I hope I’ve given you some good insight and please pass on the knowledge to everyone you know. May Allah make it easy for you and for us all, and grant us all the hidayah to truly appreciate Ramadan. Ameen.

    • irfanrydhan

      Salaams Zainab

      thanks for your comments. I dont plan on missing out on any of the benefits of Ramadan, InshaAllah. I plan to watch the movie AFTER Taraweeh prayers and after an early suhoor. Then my friends and I will go pray Fajr AFTER we watch the movie in the early morning! So we can have the best of both worlds! We don’t have to be extreme on one end or the other. Our Prophet Muhammad (S) told us NOT to be extreme in religion and to be in the Middle Path. That’s what I’m trying to do, InshaAllah.


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