20 September, 2009

The Muslim family in Western society: Confronting the challenges

In Islamic legislation, the family occupies the position of the first social cell that of the human incubator, and is distinguished by the warm emotional element that draws the person to his spouse, children, father, mother and brothers. This becomes a means to build a humanistic personality on a foundation of spiritual kindness, which nurtures the person, filling his mind heart with security, through the type of interaction that makes one spirit open to another. He should feel this emotional atmosphere overwhelming and surrounding him, in a humanistic way in which he experiences all its psychological, spiritual and intellectual details without any burden to his self or harm to his childhood, for it should make him breathe this (atmosphere) through his feeling as a matter of course, without it being imposed upon him.

Responsibility of care for the family:

In light of this, the Islamic responsibility of care for the family proceeds from a foundation of intellectual and psychological planning, which achieves for its members the opening up to Islamic concepts as a way of thinking and feeling and a way of life. Thus, the person will start his movement from an Islamic base, upon which stands his mental, emotional and dynamic building, this enables the Muslims who- from childhood -has to face an opposing reality with strength and firmness, to avoid becoming a feather in the wind or a piece of wood adrift in the current. This is what pushes an Islamic generation into the public arena, in which beliefs, steps and tendencies differ, to take its position on a basis of balance that protects it from all violent disturbances in an atmosphere of challenge?

The essential matter to address, as far as responsibility in the family is concerned, is the upbringing of the individual within it, and how to make him a person of God in his service to Him, his loyalty to Him and his relationship with Him through his belief, practice and feelings, through which he may experience the meaning of loving Allah and fearing Him. In this way, he will find his opportunity to acquire His satisfaction, to enter His Holy arena and to avoid the places of His wrath and Fire. This is what the gracious verse emphasizes:
"O Believers, guard your selves and your family against a Fire fuelled with men and stones, under the charge of fierce and mighty angels who never disobey Allah's command and how promptly do His bidding." 66:6.

We notice, in this verse, that Allah, the most Exalted, stirs the emotional side so as to proceed in planning, to achieve the internal and external preventive measures that prevent one from falling into the great Fire that is cruel in its nature and in those who are put in charge of it. It is exactly as if the father, husband or mother, in this life, is in a position where the other person -wife or child - is in danger of burning in fire: He stirs the depths of anxiety to make them do something to rescue them from an inescapable fate.

On the other hand, we find the other verse: "Gardens of Eden; they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their father, their spouses and their offspring, and angels shall enter unto them fro every gate. "Peace unto you foe all that you have steadfastly endured, now how excellent is the (your) final home." 13:23,24.

This shows that familial atmosphere in Paradise, where the pious among fathers, wives and offspring meet once again in the place of God's satisfaction, because of their piety -in this life- in belief and practice and the fact that they stayed on the right path in the line of Oneness of God and obedience to Him. The Quran present these two pictures to people to stir resolve within them, and so they abandon the first picture for the second, reaching the happy ending that any person wants for himself and his family. This makes the matter one that concerns fate, and not a temporary situation that comes into his life every now and then.

In light of this, the matter requires collective effort, in addition to individual effort, so as to prepare the right atmospheres and conditions - which represent the environment in which the family can grow and archive for its individuals the guarantee of self-defense against deviation and succumbing. This can be achieved through preparation of different means, such as schools, 'incubators' and various programs that fill the soul with its needs in education, innocent leisure and spiritual development, all of which provide the individual with the necessary conditions for a normal life. Responsibility for solidarity The responsibility, perhaps, falls not only on families in their familial or local communities, but also on all those active in the Islamic field, the Islamic Grand Authorities, active movements and intellectual groups -thinkers, callers and conveyors, who move dynamically towards the integration of their endeavors, who move dynamically towards the integration of their endeavors to find the wise plan needed for an Islamic generation that is open to Islam and our era, making it an effective force in contemporary Islam's lift off towards the world.

The issue is not one of those issues that relate to the individual side, that of fathers and mothers with their children - everyone in his own family - but, rather, it relates to the new Islamic generation, in its general aspirations, and its open arena, and in dynamic struggle with the Islamic and intellectual challenges that it faces. And if the responsibility is big and embraces the social reality inside the Islamic countries, it is even stronger in infidel countries, when Muslims are forced to emigrate and reside in them. Here they may encounter a reality that does not represent a land, in which they can put down roots, and environment, which they cannot open up to, and a world in which they feel foreign - through its concepts, habits and traditions that are different to the ideas, habits and traditions, which they have inherited. The problem of the young generation If adults have started (their life in places of emigration) with deep roots of Islamic affiliations, in theory and practice, the younger generation will not necessarily have inherited these elements, since what it possesses may represent nothing beyond some passing words and foggy concepts which do not touch their true depth - even if they have touched some of their behavior.

The danger may lie in the Western school in which Muslim children are educated, where they breathe in the atmosphere of the West in all its emotions, conditions and aspirations, as if they were something natural to move around in, exactly like the natural aspects of their fellow pupils in play -grounds and classes. They may find it strange to hear the negative remarks of their fathers and mothers, as if these are outside the norm. They may confront the matter with increasing and unspoken rejection, which looks like a complex from the stance of the family. They will start to embody the bitter adolescent query: why do they prohibit us from dancing with out friends, or from swimming in mixed swimming pools, or from enjoying free and warm relationships etc? The difficult problem, in this situation, is that the new young generation does not have a sufficiently deep or clear conception of its personality to protect itself from the influences that move in the atmosphere into which is was thrown and the arena in which it was placed. What is its understanding of God, and His relationship with man, and man's position before Him? What is its understanding of personal freedom? What about morals in all of this? Some teaching may get through with recognition, but some things may create contradictions within it, leaving it in a state of deep puzzlement between its past that it has learnt from the family and the new that it has learnt from the school or the surrounding environment. It may not be able to confront the situation in a balanced way that permits answers to its puzzling questions, with the result that it becomes shattered psychologically, if not consciously. A suggestion for a remedial plan With children who have been implanted in a land that is not their own, their growth will be separated from the natural elements that provide them with the natural process of growing. This makes it essential that the remedy comes within the framework of a thoughtful, realistic plan, along the following lines:

1- Proceeding from the narrated word of Imam Ali (as): "Do not (try to) give your children your morals, for they have been created for a time other than yours", we may extrapolate from this by changing the idea of a change in place to a change in time.

This is justified, because the concept is not based on time in its absolute sense, but rather it means -in its intellectual implications -that dynamic morals are subject to different circumstances, for they may change according to their dynamic peculiarities, as we notice in the differences in morals regarding behavior in social etiquette, in food and drink, dress, different ways of expression, social dynamics, patterns of leisure etc; place may have a role in the differences between societies, habits and traditions, time may have a role as well. Therefore, we must study the reality in which children in the West live in order to make a comparison between the unchangeable morals which stretch across time and place -on the basis that they are man's morals as defined by his humanity, which represents truth that goes beyond time and place - and the changeable morals that are not related to the value but to circumstances, reality and the conditions surrounding a person. This enables us to observe the former and to plan to organize and guide their movement in the latter, for the problem is that fathers and mothers strive to make their children into an image (carbon copy) of themselves, without studying the circumstances that molded their image in its intellectual and practical dimensions, not with regard in its intellectual and practical dimensions, nor with regard to the new circumstances that may impose another image through new dimensions.

In a lot of situations people, including religious Muslims, may confuse what is tradition with what is religious adherence, and the result is confusion regarding moral concepts, deriving from a lack of religious Islamic awareness of the original Islamic morals on intellectual basis, which opens up to the behavioral dynamics. We are not calling for a moral and intellectual coup d'etat, but for re-looking at moral lines, including Islamic lines regarding rulings (fatwas) that prohibit Muslims from every leisure even if it is innocent, such as a ruling that prohibits clapping in a certain way, or any kind of leisure except what is proved to have been allowed. This has created the basis for the prohibition of leisure, with some as exceptions.

This may make a person think that there is a mentality which regards joy, in its deep movement within the self, as not recommended Islamically, and that (according to this mentality) a person must embody the sad feelings that link him with death, whilst he is in the heart of life! When pointing to such a jurisprudence mentality in regarding man's behavior, we do not want to talk in a negative way that rejects such an approach outright, for the matter must be subjected, in rejecting or accepting, to specialist research where the Islamic jurists have differed in their results. Rather, we want to point out that some jurisprudence opinions, in allowing and forbidding, may be subject to environmental influences which this or that Islamic jurist experienced, and these may be reflected in their understanding of the (sacred) text or the Islamic pillars in the minds of religious people, or not.
As we said, we do not want to abandon the jurisprudence way simply because there is a new reality to which we must open up, or that there is an intellectual development which we must face, but we want to study the reality according to its Islamic legal categories, through an objective formulation of rulings (ijtihad) that is open to the general Quranic lines regarding details in specific rulings, in both public and private lives.
2- It is essential to open modern scientific schools in which the new generation - in its initial stages of education -breathe Islam's spiritual, moral and social atmospheres. This will contribute greatly in protecting young Muslims from elements of spiritual and moral deviation and intense psychological complexities. We might perhaps emphasize that the school project in the West is more important than the mosque or Husainiyyah, not the Opposite. And perhaps executing this project is what can make it allowable for Muslims to stay in these countries, since negative results reflected in the new generation from the Islamic point of view may lead to making emigration out of these countries obligatory, for it is not allowed to stay in countries where a person's, or his family's, religion may weaken.

3- Opening sports, social and youth clubs for the young Muslim generation (is important), so that they find a natural release from the psychological suffocation and daily tiredness that come from schools or practical obligations. Also, starting dialogue forums for the Muslim youth (is useful), in a style through which we can discover their ideas, learn their views about the vital elements in belief and behavior, and to see the new concepts and feelings that they have acquired -all this to try to open up to this generation from within, to correct what has become corrupt and straighten out what has become deviant, in a way in which they do not feel the psychological pressure that may can create opposite reaction, especially if accompanied by physical pressure.

4- (It is also important to) prepare worship atmospheres that are open to the dynamic elements in religious and spiritual matters, and to abandon boring routines in the practice of worship, in order to encourage the desire in the young to go to theses places and partake in the spirituality of prayer and the dynamics of supplication.

5- (It is also important to) prepare religious social atmospheres by stirring Islamic memories, and trying to refresh their styles and methods with what fits in with the different mentalities of youth. This is to make them (the youth) open up to these memories on a level in which they feel strong and in close relationship with the historic personalities involved and the events in question, and through planning, to provide a bright picture which makes them store, within their consciousness, its spiritual features, moral elements and secrets about humanistic greatness. We are(currently) raising some general ideas with regard to initiating some experiments that are appropriate to the new reality, so that more ideas may be forthcoming and a lot more experiments are engaged in, and so that a comparative study may, in the end, achieve the integration needed to deal with this difficult problem.

We believe that the responsibility of staying in the West imposes on us the responsibility of preparing all means to preserve our Islamic identity, original moral values and Islamic adherence, so that we do not lose ourselves under the influence of deviant atmosphere, and do not lose our children through an -un-Islamic upbringing. Perhaps we cannot reach perfection in what is required; we have to accept this and use it to encourage experiments in the process of cooperation and integration, until we arrive at the better reality. The Muslim family in the West, as in any infidel country, is living with one of the most difficult problems, and our greatest responsibility is to work towards finding suitable solutions, especially since our great ambition is to proceed with the Islamic Message to guide the world to Islam. Therefore, we must not lose ourselves and our families whilst trying to bring benefit to others!

By Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah

13 September, 2009

Beauty tips

For attractive lips , speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived,

reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anybody.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.

It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows.

And the beauty of a woman, with passing years, only grows!

04 September, 2009

Love in Islam (Al-Hubb Al-Islam)

Every heart that is not aflame is no heart;
A frozen heart is nothing but a handful of clay.
O God! Give me a breast that sets ablaze,
And in that breast a heart and that heart consumed with fire.

In Islam, the concept of love is one of the most important concepts. This fact manifests itself in Islamic philosophy, theology, mysticism and ethics; indeed, in some aspects, it plays the crucial role. For example, in defining the Islamic point of view on the relation between God and Universe in general, and between God and Mankind in particular, love has the most significant and profound place. Love is so central in Islam that it is seep as "the firmest handhold of faith" and "faith (Iman) is nothing but love for the sake of God and hate for the sake of God".

Ibn Abbas reported that Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The strongest faith is to be sincere for the sake of Allah, to hate for the sake of Allah (Tabarra), to love for the sake of Allah (Tawalla), and to discard for the sake of Allah."

There is a tendency among some people to think that there should be no hate at all. These people assume that excellence and nobility of character and "being sociable" consist of having all men one's friends. Certainly Islam recommends Muslims to love people and optimize compassionate and sincere relationship with them, even if they do not believe in Islam or in God. However, it is not feasible for a person who has principles in his life and has devoted his life to realize sacred values to be indifferent to evil and oppressive deeds of wrongdoers and make friendship with everybody. Such a person certainly will have some enemies, whether he likes it or not. There are always good people in the society and bad people. Good and bad are two opposite poles. Attraction towards the good is not possible without repulsion from the bad.

When two human beings attract each other and their hearts wish for them to be friends and companions with one another, we should look for a reason for that. The reason is nothing other than similarity and resemblance. Unless there is a similarity between these two persons, they cannot attract one another and move towards friendship with each other, as saying goes, Birds of same feather flock together.

Maulana Rumi in his Mathnavi mentions fine story that illustrate this fact.

The story relates to a wise man that saw a Raven who had formed affection for a Stork. They perched together and flew together! The wise man could not understand how two birds of two different species that had no similarity either in shape or in colour with each other could be friends. He went close and discovered that both of them had only one leg.

The same idea is emphasized by Imams of the Household (Ahlul Bayt) of Prophet Muhammad (saw). For example, Fudayl ibn Yasar, a disciple, asked Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) whether love and hatred derive from faith (Iman). Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) replied: "Is faith anything but love and hate?" It is also narrated that Imam al-Baqir (as), stated that: Religion (Deen) is love and love is religion. As these statements and traditions indicate, love plays an important and significant role. Hence it deserves our close attention in order that we may discover the real meaning of the concept of love in Islam.

First of all, some questions come to the mind. What is the kind of love that has been emphasized by Islam? Who is the object of this special kind of love? Why should the believers have this kind of love and what purpose does it serve?

In Islam Love can be broadly categorized into: Love for God, love for Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his Household (Ahlul Bayt), and love for the faithful. Love for Allah (SWT), Love for God is the foundation of Islamic belief .

The Noble Qur'an says: "The believers are stronger in their love for Allah." (Surah Al-Baqara, 2:165)

According to Islamic teaching, the minimum expectation from believers is that God should have the first place in their heart, in the sense that no other love may override one's love for God; God should be the highest and foremost object of love. The Noble Qur'an says: Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command: and Allah does not guide the transgressing people. (Surah Al-Tawba, 9:24)

This verse clearly indicates that one's love for God has to be superior to one's love for everything else that one may come to love in one's life. This superiority shows itself when the love for God and for His religion comes in conflict with one's love for one's personal belongings. In this case, a believer should be able to sacrifice his personal favourite things for the sake of God. For example, if God asks us to give our lives to protect innocent lives or our territorial integrity or the like, we should not let our love for this world or any other distraction i.e. family, wealth, power, etc. prevent us from striving in His way. And nothing should come into conflict with our love for God. The Noble Qur'an says: Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his (one) body. (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:4)

Imam Ali (as) would always spend time with his children. Once he was sitting in his house with his young children. Sayyida Zainab (sa) then asked, "Dear, father, do you love me?" Imam Ali (as) said, "Yes, of course, my children are like a part of my heart". On hearing this, she said, "You also love Allah (SWT). How can two loves be in one heart of a true believer, the love of Allah (SWT) and that of children?" Imam Ali (as) smiled and replied, "Love Allah (SWT) and for the sake of His love, you love His creatures; children and fellow beings too. I love you for the sake of Allah (SWT)." Hence love for God is the foundation of Islamic belief, the foundation on which man is to establish the principles of his faith (Iman). Hence with one heart one cannot choose two beloveds. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) said once, "The heart is the sanctuary of God, therefore do not settle therein anything but God." Hadith Qudsi says, "Neither [the vastness of] My earth, nor [that of] My heaven can contain Me. Indeed it is the heart of the man of faith which can contain Me."

Urdu Couplet says: Kaba Kitna Khush Kismat Hai, Ke Yeh Allah (SWT) Ka Ghar Hai, Lekin Is Mein Allah Nahi Rehta, Momin Kaba Se Bhi Ziada Khush Kismat Hai, Jis Ke Dil Mein Allah (SWT) Rehta Hai.

The history of Islam is full of memories of those who embodied a sincere and overwhelming love for God and His religion. One of those who full-heatedly devoted himself to Islam was Bilal al-Habashi, a black slave. The pagans of Quraysh in Makkah subjected him to torture asking him to mention names of their idols express his belief in them and disbelieve in Islam. They tormented him under the burning Sun by laying him on scorching sand and putting heavy rocks on his chest. Abu Bakr, a rich companion (Sahabi) of Prophet Muhammad (saw), was passing by when he heard the cry of Bilal. He went close and advised him to hide his belief, but Bilal was not prepared to do so; since "love was ever rebellious becomes deadly." Another example is Imam Hussayn ibn Ali (sa), who said: "Oh God, I have left the world in Your love. Am ready to make my children orphans in Your love. My heart could not divert towards anybody but You. Even if You cut my body into pieces in Your love." Love the Sole Purpose of our Creation .

There is a famous divine saying (Hadith Qudsi) which can probably be found in all books written about the goal of creation in Islam. According to this Hadith Qudsi, Allah (SWT) says: "I was a hidden treasure; I loved to be known. Hence I created the world so that I would be known." Allah (SWT) has created the world out of love. Thus, a question arises: why did Allah (SWT) love to be known? Certainly, Allah (SWT) has no desire for fame. The purpose behind His love to be known is understandable by considering the fact that Allah (SWT) who is the Wise, the Compassionate and the Merciful creates the universe and particularly human beings to give them the maximum grace and perfection that they have the capacity for receiving. Of course, the perfection of any kind of being is decided by the degree of its similarity or closeness to Allah (SWT), and the most important factors in this are love of Allah (SWT), and prior to that knowledge of Allah (SWT), since there can be no love without knowing the beloved.

It is narrated in another Hadith Qudsi that when God loves someone, He becomes his ears, his eyes, his tongue, and his hands: "When I love him, then I shall be his ears with which he listens, his eyes with which he sees, his tongue with which he speaks, and his hands with which he holds; if he calls Me, I shall answer him, and if he asks Me, I shall give him."

Similarly the way man has physical needs in life which he strives and struggles to fulfill, the soul too has needs that must be satisfied. These spiritual needs and urges have been placed by the hands of the creator in the depths of the creation's soul. Man has a natural inclination to find love and love in any form towards any object has no valid reality except when it is for the sake of Allah (SWT). All love directly or indirectly in some way, shape, or form is a man's hope to be in reach of the ultimate perfection, which can be nobody but Allah (SWT) - the Almighty. God's love for the world in general and human beings in particular is unanimously believed and emphasized by all Muslims. Indeed, one of the God's names is al-Wadud, He who loves. Some non Muslims allege that God in Islam is very strict and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully. He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be farther from truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Noble Qur'an begins with the verse: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate."

In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) we are told that, "God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child." Do You Want Allah (SWT) to Love You? Then develop the following qualities!
Allah loves Muhsineen (Good Doers) [2:195, 3:134, 3:148, 5:13, 5:93]
Allah loves Tawwabeen (Those who turn to rightfulness) [2:222]
Allah loves Mutahhareen (Those who keep their bodies free from filth) [2:222, 9:108]
Allah loves Muttaqeen (Those who guard themselves against evil) [3:76, 9:4, 9:7]
Allah loves Sabireen (Being Patient) [3:146]
Allah loves Mutawakkileen (Those who put their trust in Allah) [3:159]
Allah loves Muqsiteen (Those who act equitably and justly) [5:42, 49:9, 60:8]

It is noteworthy that although one of the things attributed to Allah (SWT) in Islam is the wrath (Ghadab), its application is much more limited compared to His mercifulness and love for His creatures. Indeed, His wrath is only for those who deliberately disbelieve or commit evil actions. Remember Allah (SWT) is also just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment and the virtuous, His bounties and favors. Wrath or anger is also out of His love and mercy. If His love or mercy did not exist He would not care at all. It is like a father who becomes angry with his son when he does something wrong, because he has care and concern for his son and his entire family, because he wants his son to correct his behaviour and set a lesson for other children not to copy that wrong act.

A rational and intelligent love is the one that involves the good and interest of whole mankind and not a limited number of people. One can do many things to bring good to individuals or groups which bring evil to society or mankind as a whole. For example, if a Judge releases a guilty criminal he might have done something good to that person, but a great harm has been inflicted upon the society and the ideal of justice. One should not let his affections hide the truth. If our beloved child needs injection or operation we should not let our love and passions for him to prevent us from doing so. This is exactly how wrath (Ghadab) of Allah (SWT) acts out of care and concern. Why should one love Allah (SWT)? According to Islam, one (1) reason for loving God, as said before lies in the fact that God is the most precious, absolute perfection and eternal beauty, that a man can ever conceive and therefore, man out of his nature that aspires to values, beauty and perfection loves God. The second (2) reason for loving God, men by nature love whoever does good to them, and they appreciate such favour and benevolence, as Imam Ali (as), said: "Generosity and magnanimity enslave men." Now, as God is the source of all being, of all generosity and benevolence, man, by virtue of his nature, loves God. Prophet Muhammad (saw), said: "Love Allah (SWT) because He has done good to you and He has bestowed favours upon you." A believer who has started his spiritual journey towards God first comes to recognize God's blessings upon him in providing him with lots of supports and helps that enabled him to act. Having continued his journey and been equipped with a mystical view of the world, he will realize that every good thing, indeed, comes from God himself. We read in the Noble Qur'an: "Whatever benefit comes to you (O man!), it is from God, and whatever misfortune befalls you, it is from yourself" (Surah An-Nisa, 4:79)

Aside from the fact that one who loves God is loved by Him (5:54), a real love for God prompts one to perform the best of deeds. Reason and nature dictate that if someone really loves God, he would act in a manner that is pleasing to God. In this regard, the Noble Qur'an says: Say: "If you love Allah, then follow me, and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins," and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surah Al-E-Imran, 3:31) This ayah indicates the interrelation between love, as an inner state, and emulating Prophet Muhammad (saw), which is an outward action. Moreover, it implies that no one may neglect his religious obligations under the pretext of love for God. Love for Prophet Muhammad (saw)

02 September, 2009

Ramadan recalls good memories of family reunion in I.R.Iran

The month of the Quran, a month of benevolence, a month of prayers and worship, a month of blessings, the holy month of Ramadan has arrived. And with it, all the warm childhood memories return; the memory of everyone getting together in the evenings at the grandparents’ home all around the Iftar spread, waiting anxiously to sample all the different delicious foods that grandmother had prepared.

The special ceremonies of giving Iftari to relatives, praying at nights and staying up late until sahari and recalling the wonderful memories all return once again with the arrival of this holy month.

Ramadan is celebrated in different regions across the country with ceremonies unique to each region. It is fascinating to get to know the ceremonies and the celebrations in each region and province.

Iranian Turkmen are very rich in culture and variety of ceremonies and traditions. They have special ceremonies for almost every individual event.

In the month of Ramadan, the elderly, the youth and even the children participate in all the special ceremonies that take place this month.

Turkmen usually begin preparations a week before the arrival of Ramadan. The women are busy cleaning their homes while the men purchase most of the necessary food to be used during this month.

One of the many traditions is that the females of each region usually get together and clean the neighborhood mosque on the last Friday prior to the arrival of Ramadan.

Observing the new moon of Ramadan in the sky is always accompanied with a great excitement. They believe anybody who sees the crescent will attain an extra heavenly award.

Another worthwhile custom before Ramadan’s arrival is to reconcile those who are not on speaking terms with each other. Usually, a respected elder from each district invites those who are not speaking to each other to his house for tea and tries to conciliate them.

In Ardebil, Ramadan brings lots of joy and excitement into their families and includes preparation of special food for Ramadan. Ashe-dough is very popular on these evenings and is usually served at the time of Iftar. It is a dish prepared with yoghurt, rice, chick peas, little meat balls and a very delicious regional vegetable which makes the food taste a little bit sour. It is white and is served like soup before the main course. Some eat bread with this food.

People in Shiraz have their special ceremony of kholukhandazun (feasting the month of Ramadan).

In the evening of last Friday in the month of Shaban (the month before Ramadan,) all the people of different ages pick up a dirt clod and stand facing the Qiblah and say, “God, we are breaking the bad habits and all our sins and preparing ourselves for the holy month of Ramadan and fasting” and then forcibly throw the clod to the ground to break it.

Sahari (the meal eaten before dawn) in Shiraz is also replete with colorful varieties of food, cooked rice and regional types of cookies.

People in the city of Khomein and the villages of Markazi Province, have the tradition to awaken their neighbors to eat sahari. Every night one young adult picks a basin, turns it upside down and then raps on it with a piece of wood at each door until they awake and turn on a light. An elderly man also accompanies the boy and shouts, “Wake up, it is Sahar (dawn)”. They continue to do this in front of every door.

Like other people across the country, people in Markazi Province also stay awake to pray on the nights of the 19th, 21st, and 23rd of Ramadan, which are known as the ‘grand nights’, on one of which the entire Quran was sent down to the Prophet Muhammad (S). It is believed that Allah is extremely merciful to his servants on these nights.

The tradition of kisehduzi is also popular among the women in Hamedan. On the 27th day of Ramadan women take a piece of cloth to the mosque and sew one or more small purses. Next, they put some money inside the purses, read some prayers, and then blow on them. Finally, they place the purse in an old chest at home. The purse is called the ‘purse of blessing’ and people believe that they will never experience poverty in the future (due to the purse.)