Thursday, October 13, 2005

How conservative is too conservative?

I feel that a lot of people go through a period of introspection in Ramadan. For the most part, spirituality is an important balance in the lives of many people. On the other hand, many people who are not overtly religious fast Ramadan out of social pressure, and conforming to prevalent social standards.

But if the most religious set the social standards in Ramadan, why don't they set them the rest of the year? It seems odd that people somehow that even marginally religious people become more observant at these times. This leads to the conclusion that many people are more religious than they normally let on. This is why standards are allowed to change for the holy month.

But is this healthy? Why is it important to take the feelings of the fasting into account, and not allow smoking, eating or drinking in public? Why should nightclubs and bars close? What if you don't want to fast? Who decides that the guy who is fasting deserves for you to worry about his feelings? Does he worry about yours? And what if you want to go to a nightclub or have a beer? You aren’t forcing anybody who doesn't want to to go to a bar. Why should he care if you want to go? Why is it any of his business? Because you are religious shouldn't mean that you are able to force me to live the way that you want me to live.

Of course, Islamist politicians promise to enforce the Sharia if they come to power. In that case, the whole year will be like Ramadan. If you are religious, you might think that it is a good idea. But if you are not (you will be in the minority even if you are a secular Muslim) shouldn't mean that you don't have rights.

To be honest, the wave of piousness that goes over in Ramadan scares me. I have no problem with people being close to God, but it bothers me that religious people feel that they have right to impose their values on everybody else. Because the next logical step is to enforce religious morality all year long. Why should Ramadan be different than any other time of year?


At 10:08 PM, Blogger Roba said...

Excellent point Khalaf. This religious intolerance by the religious people in the Arab world is driving me to become less tolerant towards their religiousness, which is increasingly seeming more and more blinded by illogical notions- regardless of whether they are Muslim or Christian.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger Lina said...

This post hit home! I was planning to write about this taboo on eating and drinking in public, and why all restaurants and cafes have to be closed during the day. It doesn't really make sense in a country that supposedly respects religious freedoms and religious differences! How come it's not like that in Palestine or Syria for example??

At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Ramadan is a special month for muslims, it will always have this extra bit of religious attention from the general public, which is not wrong at all. On another note, what's the problem of having the restaurants and cafes closed during the day or not allowing eating and drinking in public? The government is right in implementing this to preserve the spirit of this month and besides it takes place in most arab coutries including Palestine (not sure how Lina claims otherwise). Rgds, Bashar.

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Roba and Lina: Greetings!

Hello Bashar: Do you think that it is the government's job to enforce religion? I find this to be a very disturbing idea. Where does it begin and where does it end?


At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't one of the main wisdoms behind fasting to feel with the poor and the derprived? Isn't it about physical and mental cleansing? Work hours and attitudes during Ramadan are too accomodating and defeat the purpose of fasting to start with. The poor and hungry do not get shorter days or special considerations from the people around them.
Still i think it is common curteousy to be considerate when people are fasting. But i fail to understand how it affects them if I go and have a drink in a bar or a restaurant in a closed non public area.


At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kinzi here (someday someone will teach me how to register properly!)

I think people are used to having religious identity imposed on them, and feel 'safe' with restrictions. Not having the government impose the rules would cause the fear that not enough people would fast and upset the cultural balance of life.

I think God is more pleased with devout pratice that stems from the heart, rather than a yearly outward show of piety.

I wonder if it has to do with the five pillars being considered 'obligations' of faith rather than a joy to practice. When my landlord went on the Hajj, she said 'my obligation to God is fulfilled' as if that was it!

As a Christian, I endeavor to fast, give and pray with joyful abandon from a grateful heart through out the year long whether it is Christmas or not. And I know some Muslims who practice Ramadan all year round, too.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you think that it is the government's job to enforce religion? I find this to be a very disturbing idea. Where does it begin and where does it end?".
Not enforcing religion mate, the government/ministry of religious affairs sets out certain procedures, which deem important to religious occasions. Fasting is between you and God but you should adhere to the consensus. Moreover, Jordan is not a secular country, so it will be bound by some religious rules. Rgds, Bashar.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

"Not enforcing religion mate, the government/ministry of religious affairs sets out certain procedures, which deem important to religious occasions".

Actually, I beg to differ. The government is enforcing a religeous atmosphere. It may not actually be enforcing religeon yet, but it is a only a small step to that. Who gets to draw the line? Personally, I don't think it should be up to the government.


At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally agree with Khalaf’s ideas, and well disagree with Bashar’s. Bashar, do you think that everyone is Moslem in Jordan or everyone believes in God. Well if your answer is yes then that your first problem.

As Khalaf said “On the other hand, many people who are not overtly religious fast Ramadan out of social pressure, and conforming to prevalent social standards.” Therefore these secular Moslems should not fast if they do not want to however; the government’s fascist approach to a more Islamic regime will eventually lead Jordan to being more like Saudi Arabia which is rated as one of the worst countries worldwide in terms of human rights.

I have no problem with any religion or Islam for that matter, however forcefully implying any religion on a population which is diverse in mentality is just simply immoral.

Adding to Khalaf’s point on fasting, I do not fast myself, and therefore fell deprived from my rights when I am not allowed to eat in public. Fasting should be about feeling with the poor and he who fasts should be deprived and not the other way around.

Even though the current government is more secular than previously allowing some non-hotel restaurants to open for lunch and serve alcohol during the month of Ramadan. I feel that Moslems are forced to fast due to social pressure. People like you Bashar are the people who hold Jordan back form developing into a better and more open country where minorities are treated as equals and where people are free to do as they wish.

Oussama Kalis

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"People like you Bashar are the people who hold Jordan back form developing into a better and more open country where minorities are treated as equals and where people are free to do as they wish". Thank you Saint Oussama, I'll take it as a compliment.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Oleander said...

The argument that if the country being Ramadan-sensitive will lead to a governing regime similar to that in Saudi Arabia is baseless and false, Jordan has been an Islamic country since its birth and I believe it's clear enough the direction that the country is moving into is the direction of "open mindedness" you speak about.

You cannot deny that Jordan is an Islamic country, it's in the constitution, and some of these changes you're asking for require changes in the constitution of the country. Second of all, those who don't fast, be them people of faiths other than Islam, or Muslims who don't fast, are still a minority. The minority's rights are protected, no one is going to force you to fast, what you do in private is your own business. But even in the freest of democracies it's not the minority that paints the color of the country, and that's what you're asking for.

And so continues the identity crisis that our dear country is going through, maybe one of these days we would have a national referendum on this and many other issues and settle them, democratically, for once and all.

I apologize for the winded reply, but I'll have to add that for me Ramadan is not only about feeling with the poor, it's a test of faith. God told you to fast, you either heed and adhere out of faith or you don't, it's a very intimate form of worship.

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If these bars and nightclubs close, then the persons who close them are doing the ones who go to these places a good thing. No more haram stuff for them.
If these places didnt even close in Ramadan, then we would be in trouble.

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Blogger said...

People often claim that by eating while they are fasting, ur being too insensitive!
Though Muslims in N.America and Europe are fasting and praying even more than those in the Islamic world?!
So I don't see the point of prohibiting people from eating in public.. I think it is just the religious intolerance

In Jordan, if you are caught eating or drinking anything during the day, u'll be thrown in jail and most probably beaten up by people!!

Though, I think not many people are really fasting! Like 90% of all people I see on the streets during Ramadan are swearing, flirting, and short tempered!
Lol I remember my brother telling me that people go BANANAS, avoid any argument, especially cabbies!
Now since Ramadan started, a fight scene became very common?!
I mean it's either people renounce religion for good! or u fast properly!

BASHAR : Because people are forced to eat at 4:30am and 5:30pm they are all wired up, I mean just look how people go nuts in Ramadan, all the car accidents, fest fights,etc?! those angry peopel are forced to fast, if they are not, then u'll have a quiet Ramadan, where religious ppl can fast peacfuly.

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Khalaf, and greetings to everyone there..

Thanks a lot for what you wrote on government's interference in people's spirituality and faith, which is no longer sacred since people are lacking CHOICE, the characteristic that makes our actions worth doing and moral, as free willed individuals.

I want to say that this violates basic rights and freedoms set in the constitution, that has supremacy and priority over any temporary decisions.

the just state should be NEUTRAL, i.e. not having a prior conception of the good life that people should lead. it should only make sure of that people have the opportunity to pursue their own good as they see it.

I would like to know what other forms does this official attitude take? what will happen if someone decided to smoke in public during a day of Ramadan - other than social opression of course -!, and what justifies it? what makes it legal? are there any legislations on that?

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Laboni Bhattacharya said...

Hi. I'm from India, and I'm taking part in Model United Nations, I'll be representing Jordan in the Human Rights Council. I wondered if you could tell me some more about religious intolerance and children in armed conflict, in jordan? But please, nothing too negative, I will be majorly lobbying for Jordan. I'm really interested in this blog. Hope you'll reply


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