Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Latino/Caribe | Tags: Ramadan, Trinidad
Interfaith in the Caribbean
By Umm Suleiman
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Many non Muslims in Trinidad and Tobago abstained from eating for part of the day, or drank water only or ate fruits for some days in honor of the holy month of Ramadan.
Numerous family members and peers in the work place skipped meals in an effort to show solidarity with Muslims.
Although Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, many Christians and God fearing people also attempt fasting during this time, but admit that the fast of the Muslim requires more self sacrifice than perhaps they can manage.
While it is only Allah, the Most High, who helps the Muslims to fast through some of these hot days on the two islands, where Muslims tally about 11% of the population, people of the Old and New Testaments used to fast in the same manner as the Muslims, from before sunrise to after sunset, in accordance with Divine command.
The population of the Caribbean island is predominantly Christian, and support for Muslims continued through to the celebration of Eid ul Fitr.
Eid is a public holiday and a national celebration in Trinidad and Tobago, and was declared for October 1st this year by President George Maxwell Richardson. As is customary the President was advised by representatives of the Muslim community based on the estimated date for citing the new moon.
Muslims have traditionally invited non Muslim family and friends to their homes to partake in sharing a meal on Eid day. As a result, Eid festivities have become part of the general culture. Non Muslims expect and look forward to being invited to eat roti and curried dishes and to drink sawien, a drink made from vermicelli, milk, raisins and spices.
Well wishers also give Eid cards and gifts to their Muslim brothers and sisters. It is not uncommon to have a relative request from the recipient a translation of the Arabic on a decorative plaque which they purchased as a gift. A person may receive their most expensive Eid gift from a non Muslim.
This year there were banners proclaiming the celebration of Eid in several public places. While an Eid banner is expected to be displayed on mosques, it was truly a wonderful sight to behold a large, fluttering sign displaying best wishes on the National Library.
Our Christian and non Muslim brothers and sisters who “fasted” this Ramadan and took the time to congratulate, and even celebrate, on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr 2008, brought an abundance of joy to the festivities of the fast-breaking this year.
Filed under: International, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008, World | Tags: Ramadan
By Farhana Jamal, Islamic Post Staff Writer
The Coca-Cola Company hired a company named Attik before Ramadan to decorate cans in a fashion to induce more Muslims to buy the soft drink. The Ramadan-designed can is being marketed in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Tunisia and other countries where Muslims are the majority and has the flags of 11 such countries displayed within the soda’s red and white trade colors.
The marketing scheme, which dates as far back as 2006, comes after mass worldwide boycotts of the product in 2002. At that time it was alleged that the Coca-Cola Company, which produces a wide variety of brand names like Minute Maid and Fanta, is a supporter of Zionism.
The allegations stemmed from a “pro-Israel propaganda lecture” given by Linda Gradstein, which was cosponsored by Coca-Cola along with Zionist organizations like Friends of Israel, and National Hillel.
The Coca Cola Company has plants worldwide, including on land that is alleged to have been stolen from Palestine.
At least 20 universities in the United States have refused to allow Coca-Cola products onto their campuses in the past decade, including the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Michigan State University; alleging human rights and environmental abuses by the company.
The Coca-Cola Company denies that it is guilty of any such claims.
“In a globalizing world, Ramadan presents an opportunity to showcase the true values of Islam and what it stands for,” said Coca Cola in 2006, “Because no other brand is as inclusive as and no other company is as diverse as Coca-Cola, we have a unique opportunity to play a valued role as an international bridge-builder and facilitator of dialogue during Ramadan.”
In addition to political questions about the company (Coca-Cola denies that it has any political affiliations whatsoever), a 2003 California State University student experiment attempted to show that consumption of caffeinated Coca-Cola has the potential to cause health problems. The study dealt with the rapid rise in blood pressure after subjects consumed the product. The effects can cause significant difficulties for a person who fasts the month of Ramadan. The study “proved the hypothesis that Coca Cola with caffeine will raise the blood pressure of a person within thirty minutes,” claimed the University students.
Filed under: Hakimah's Corner, Magazine/ Culture, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008 | Tags: Fasting, Hakimah's Corner, Ramadan
Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended as medical advice; consult your health practitioner.
By Hakimah Umm Tabari, Islamic Post Staff Writer
As Ramadan draws to a close and we approach the optional and highly rewarded post-Eid fasts during the Islamic month of Shawwal, it is encouraging to examine the ways that fasting benefits one from a physical perspective. Fasting helps the body restore homeostasis. Homeostasis is the near perfect balance that is found in a healthy body. It is the normal interaction between all of the systems and organs. Disruption of this state leads to the development of illness and disease. When one fasts during the prescribed time period, the body is able to perform it’s various functions unhampered by the demands placed on it by the constant eating and drinking of snack food, devitalized fast food, sodas, and other things that do not support the heath of the human body. As this homeostasis is restored, the delicate interplay between systems is kicked up a notch and fine-tuning of body functions begins. This restorative process allows for the strengthening of the immune system– the all-important system in the body that protects one from becoming a victim to the manifold pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) that are ever-present in the environment.
Fasting provides rest for the digestive and metabolic systems. The Islamic fasting requires that one meal taken in the pre-dawn hours and another after sunset. Since a lunar calendar is used, this time period changes from year to year so one may fast anywhere from 13 hours to 18 hours, depending on the season. Since absolutely no food or drink is taken during this time the body has the opportunity to work on breaking down and eliminating excess food, stored fat, and extra cellular debris, in essence “cleaning house.” It is important to note that in order to gain these benefits one must protect the body against the extravagance of huge sehri (pre-dawn) meals and iftari meals that are heavily laden with fats and sugars and are difficult to digest. It is necessary to maintain a balanced diet during this time to aid the body in its work. Equally important is to get as much water between iftar and sleeping and with suhur, to ward off dehydration, especially if the fasting day is long or very hot.
Fasting can be a weight management tool. While the main focus of Ramadan is to receive the most spiritual benefit possible from the fasting, prudent preparation of the meals taken can allow one to moderate their eating habits and lose weight by choosing foods that are nutrition rich and avoiding high caloric, high sugar foods that one is used to snacking on throughout the day normally. Foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good protein sources such as chicken, fish, beans and legumes, eggs and some dairy products like yogurt and cheese are the best sources to choose from when planning meals. Good eating habits acquired during Ramadan should be maintained after the month ends.
Remember that thirty days is an excellent length of time to establish a new habit and break an old one. Studies have shown that a lower caloric intake is associated with longer life spans and many of the people studied who lived well into their 90’s and 100’s were people who were conservative in their eating habits and fasted regularly.
Fasting provides mental and emotional stability. During Ramadan one is reminded to show restraint in all things and this causes a positive effect on one’s mental health. Fasting causes one to become more introspective and more attentive to the spiritual aspects of life. Avoiding unhealthy practices such as smoking, drinking and overeating helps one feel healthier and happier, creating a more stable mental outlook. Poor eating habits can lead to health problems i.e., low blood sugar, headaches, insomnia, etc., that in turn lead to behavior and or attitude problems. Many fasting people report that they have more energy (especially after the first week) and feel more content and tranquil. They report being able to cope better with stresses in their lives. This feeling of tranquility leads to health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, better sleeping habits, reduction in anxiety and depression and better control of behavior. Of course much of this is due to the increased ibadah (worship) that is performed, for that in itself is a healing.