The war on Ramadan?

FanoosReader Hasan dropped the following note in our story suggestion box:

I really enjoy your website, but it’s strange that I’ve read nothing on Ramadan…, why?

As it happens, I was preparing to look at the following Associated Press story. Other than Hasan’s general suggestion, we haven’t had any submissions of particularly good or bad Ramadan stories.

Anyway, I rather enjoyed the angle that AP writer David Grant took for his story. It’s one of my pet peeves about reporters that they have trouble reporting on annual events or seasons. I call it the War on the Liturgical Calendar. One of the ways to make sure a paper covers an annual event or season is to find new or noteworthy angles. Well, here’s one for this year:

During most of his high school football career, Baquer Sayed broke the Ramadan fast during halftime, when the stadium lights began to flood the field after sundown.

With the traditional sunrise-to-sunset fast set to last a few hours longer this year because of where it falls in the Islamic calendar, the heavily recruited wide receiver at suburban Detroit’s Fordson High is going to have to hold out until after the final whistle.

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, will begin in August for the first time in 33 years this year. Moreover, it will be creeping deeper into summer for each of the next seven years because the Islamic lunar calendar is roughly 11 days shorter than the international solar calendar. That means Muslims in the U.S. face longer, hotter days of religious devotion because of longer, hotter summer days — and that Sayed will play before recruiters on an empty stomach this year.

The story explains how Ramadan works — fasting from food, drink, smoking and sex — and what it commemorates — the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. He gets perspective from religious leaders about the pros and cons of the change in the calendar. It may help adherents practice their religious discipline, leaders say, but it will also make it more challenging to host special events at mosques. He even speaks with mothers about how bedtime routines will be disrupted. Here’s more:

While streets in predominantly Islamic nations are packed after sunset with those visiting family and friends, Ramadan in the U.S. means being wide-awake for a 9-to-5 workday in the morning, restricting the month’s evening social events.

“That sharing, when you do break the fast, is just as important as the fasting,” said Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia in Richmond, Va. “The problem is, of course, the nighttime prayers during Ramadan are lengthy prayers that we do and that’s going to go on quite late at night. That’s going to be hard for some people without a doubt.”

I wonder if readers have any suggestions for other angles reporters could explore. Hasan offered one — the difficulties inmates might have following the dictates of their faith during Ramadan.

Image via Flickr.

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