Image 1 of 12: Ramadan is upon us. It is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This year is set to have the longest fasting day
of the fasting month in 26 years, according to experts. That is, 16 hours and 1 minute in Jordan.
Also set for the hottest month of this summer with soaring temperatures.
Image 1 of 12: Ramadan 'Karim' (generous) as the customary greeting or blessing goes; or Ramadan Rations?; This Ramadan the
scramble for food - similar to that which precedes any festivity or season holiday
with frantic supermarket dashes- is more pronounced. Maybe due to instability felt in the region.
Image 1 of 12: Egypt's 'Balah' or Date market feature of the Holy Month: This month the main 'date' to
headline the season is 'January 25' Revolution. Formerly, traditional gimmicks for
date sales had top dates named for favorite celebrities. This year 'Revolutionary dates' usurped the Nancy and
Image 1 of 12: Night owls' late shopping: People are active at night and the markets operate later hours
to suit the consumers' schedules and activity, much like late night Christmas shopping. This hubbub marks the slight reversal of day
to night for the community who become more active after the break of fast.
Image 1 of 12: Ramadan lights: In countries like Egypt, lanterns are known to be a symbol of Ramadan. They are hung across the cities of Egypt, part
of an 800 year old tradition. While in Saudi Arabia, markets continue to operate uncharacteristically late.
Image 1 of 12: Shopping frenzy : Reports off the street of rationing of food supplies in Jordan this
Ramadan as one shopper getting stocked up for the opening week tells of being restricted on the number of chickens
he was allowed to buy in a Jordan food market. Five chickens exceeded his allowance, apparently.
Image 1 of 12: Night life in Syria: It is customary to see people out and about in the old city of Damascus and areas that are usually only
frequented by day or working hours come alive at night. Children find excitement in being allowed to stay up later and spend
time with the family.
Image 1 of 12: “Shisha” cafes to luxurious tents: The Ramadan Tent is a staple in the UAE during the Holy Month for Iftar (or break of fast)
to 'Suhur' (eating before the start of fast- often late night, into the dawn hours). People congregate in special
tents- a fashion that peaked early 2000s in Lebanon.
Image 1 of 12: Dry month: countries that thrive on the touristic and summer commerce will feel the effects. Morocco expects
reduction of alcohol sales in summer time. Still in Morocco the joy of the month buoys them up: they decorate or renovate
their houses in happy anticipation for the reception of Ramadan.
Image 1 of 12: Decline in film production and economic factors in the region might mean frivolity is off the Ramadan menu: Will items as
traditional Sufi dancing be replaced by political rallies and a more sombre mood to the season? Egypt's film
and entertainment industry has been reportedly slipping off.
Image 1 of 12: Ready for Ramadan: A supermarket owner in Damascus, reports that people have started stocking up on nonperishable foods
as they brace themselves for an escalation in civil unrest during Ramadan with larger numbers of protesters expected on the streets.
Image 1 of 12: Ramadan spirit of peace versus Revolutionary fever: Will the 'Friday rage' be tempered by the holy season? Or will the
passion be galvanized by religious zeal? Protesters in Syria are planning on having much bigger
demonstrations while people stay up late during the month and frequent mosques.
As the Muslim world welcomes Ramadan 2011, set to start early next week, we wait with baited breath to see if the world will witness a time of peace and thanksgiving in the Middle East or an escalation in the unrest, and even violence, that has been characteristic of the last 6 months.
Traditionally, this Holy Month is marked by charity and blessings (maybe even excess) among family and friends. It is the time of the year when Muslim cities are aglow. Markets are awash with shoppers, families and friends fill cafes, decorative light sparkles over balconies, trees, and shops selling spices, jewelry or colorful scarves.
But Ramadan 2011 must absorb the spirit of recent revolution and ongoing unrest into what is otherwise a subdued time of peace. Given that the community congregates more, as is customary with Ramadan, there might be more potential for trouble festering and civil movements spreading.
Still, the routine of Ramadan will likely prevail, hailing in overtones of family warmth and care, marked by devotion, spiritual cleansing and purity.
Al Bawaba bids you Ramadan Karim.