Ramadan was the hottest month in Islāmic history. It was a time of less food and water, so during their fasting it’s not just for starving or dehydration, it’s a time of contemplation and reflection, of spiritual growth, and commitment. It’s also a time for a lot of prayers, plenty of reading, and perhaps some long naps to last the day. This Ramadan has 14 hours of daylight so that time can be spent sleeping, reading the Quran (I have one translated into English), and exploring the country in its more quiet state.
A website suggests that if you read 20 pages a day, of the 604, you should just about finish during the month. I’ve got two smaller introductory books that I’m going to read – Quran: A Short Journey, and The Man in the Red Underpants. I will use this time to learn more about this culture that I’ve been invited to stay in. There was an article about the Ramadan brief given at Indoc on base and it turned into a total racist comment party, so I quit reading. I would like to say that Bahrain allows us to stay here and so it’s kind of us to follow some simple rules while we are guests.
If we want the same thing in the States than we should close our borders, pick a religion (since we were based on freedom of), become fluent in two languages (most Americans I know are monolingual), and commit to something besides hatred and hamburgers. I agree that we shouldn’t have to stop saying Under God or Merry Christmas, those are our traditions, but when you travel and see a melting pot of people who each follow something different it makes it difficult to keep up with which holiday it may be for them. It seems it would be easier to say Happy Holidays.
While in Bahrain during the holiday month it is kind to wish everyone here, celebrating or not, a “Ramadan Kareem” for they too are not eating, drinking, smoking, playing music, or having sex during the daylight hours – at least not where their neighbors can hear. They too are putting up with the extreme heat and the shortened work hours when trying to get settled into a country or keep a business running.
These people live differently here. That’s what makes them unique and worth getting to know. Let’s not forget that as we take our country for granted – the land of the free to make decisions (preferably to stop hating – not just in the Gatorade gangster sense, but in every meaning of the word) and supposedly the home of the brave (where other countries citizens escape to make something of themselves) while the locals sit behind their football, Budweiser, and Oprah and hope that all the foreigners will go away – thanks, Obama!
But what people fail to realize is that they too were once foreigners – Africans, Jews, Germans, Chinese – and some were held in prisoner camps against their will by other white people. Racism isn’t just a color issue, it’s a lack of education and a willingness to learn. I know if the Earth’s time was scaled down to 24 hours we are in the last 12 seconds of development. We have a long way to go towards equal rights for work, gay marriages, women’s rights around the world. Other countries are starving, don’t have clean water, and don’t enforce safety regulations. I know the readers of my blog aren’t of this mindset, but I want to put this out there for the chance that someone might read it and get inspired to share it, be inspired by it, and maybe even act on it.
You don’t have to leave the States to learn this. You don’t even have to leave your state, but you do need to leave your hometown. You need to find a memorial, a tree, a mountain, a desert, a museum, artefacts in your neighbor’s field (with their permission) and you need to learn about the people who lived there – as far back as history will allow. You need to realize that there were Indians, Africans, Spaniards, Russians, explorers, scientists, pioneers, homesteaders, and people rushing for gold on that land. It doesn’t look the same anymore. Time changes all things and I hope to gain some knowledge and insight into this culture by learning some of their language and ways of life while I’m here.