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BONUS: Ramadan smiles! September 1, 2010

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Holidays, Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley.
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"Gift a smile this Ramadan." Paint and markers on construction paper, by "the kids next door." Photo taken 1 September 2010.

This morning I stepped our my apartment door to set out our empty water bottle and I was delighted to find this sign facing me from the apartment across the hall!

These sorts of signs are on all the doors on our floor, and they’re all signed with a typed note:  “The kids next door made this especially for you.  Ramadan Kareem!”  I suspect our neighbors, a couple of American kids, are behind these beautiful, happy signs, but whoever did them, I love the joy in the artwork.  Thanks, “kids next door”!  🙂

This is the sign we found on our own apartment door. It also reads "Ramadan Kareem."


For those of you who might not know a lot about Ramadan, here’s a short rundown (my Muslim friends, feel free to correct and/or add to this in the comments!):

During the month of Ramadan, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH*) ventured out alone for a month of fasting and meditation.  During this month, the angel Jibril (Gabriel, in English) came to Mohammed and revealed the text of the Holy Qur’an, the word of God Himself.  For Muslims, the Qur’an is the central example of God’s love for humanity and is considered divine itself; as such, the Qur’an holds a place in Islam similar to Christ in Christianity**, so the month of Ramadan–when the Qur’an was revealed–is for Muslims like Christmas, Lent, and Easter all rolled up into one.  It is one of the five pillars of Islam, meaning all Muslims (who are physically able) observe the fast:  For the entire month, practicing Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and romantic intimacy during daylight hours, breaking their fast at sunset with a huge community feast called an iftar.  (My wife and I have attended a few iftars already this Ramadan–they’re happy, boisterous feasts open to everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.)  This daytime fast is meant to remind Muslims of the hardships others face and thereby to instill a greater sense of compassion into everyday life.  It is a season of quiet reflection and of joyous gatherings with family, friends, and neighbors; it is a season of compassion and of charity; it is a beautiful time of year.

* The letters “PBUH” stand for the English words “Peace be upon him.” Those words (in whatever language) always follow the name of a holy person in Islam, especially the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). In print, the initials have become more common than the whole expression. If anyone is curious, devout Muslims also say “peace be upon him (or her)” when mentioning the names of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Jesus’s mother Mary (peace be upon them), because all these figures are holy to Islam.

** This is according to the Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in his book The Heart of Islam, among other sources.

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1. Eid mubarak! « Smile! - September 9, 2010

[…] (For those of you who might not know a lot about Ramadan, check out my short introduction in the post “Ramadan smiles!“) […]


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