Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Heads-up: Ramadan happening

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 43 seconds

So I am doing the really cool and super-exciting #clmooc and registered for the Sloan-C Blended Learning conference (#blend14) and of course engaging with #rhizo14 and #edcontexts as usual… But there’s something different on the home front: it’s Ramadan.

Now to the external observer, that just sounds like no big deal: I just eat at weird times (when the sun is down). But it also has other implications. And no, it’s not that I can’t think straight while fasting, I can think quite well, though occasionally I’ll get physically tired on a hot day if I have to take my kid out and run after her a lot (been trying to avoid this so far). It would mean more time awake at weird hours, like early morning, but that’s not strange for me, as anyone who knows me online knows, I almost live on two timezones!

What it does mean, though, is that the social environment around me is different. Last time I attend a virtual conference, I had help from my dad husband and mom to take care of my toddler. This time, when the conf starts around 3pm Cairo time is a few hours before we break our fast. Women are busy making food or people are otherwise resting or worshipping (e.g. Reading Quran). No one wants to take care of my toddler while I attend some elusive online conference! Around 7pm Cairo time (2pm conference time) is the time we break our fast. I could eat while watching but no one else will take care of my toddler while they’re eating. Around 9pm is when my toddler is supposed to sleep. I usually then go back to the conference BUT given the exhaustion of Ramadan I sometimes fall asleep and wake up later around 1am to eat again, etc., by which time the conf would be over for the day, probably.

All I am saying is: don’t expect my usually overzealous conference participation during Ramadan. I could do loads of asynchronous stuff, but the recordings aren’t available until. Days later…

15 thoughts on “Heads-up: Ramadan happening

  1. Our friends at the college try and take half time and I remember covering shifts for student services after my “lunch” break so they could go home. Practicing Muslims account for about half the population here and the rest of us get to be “good” Christians and practice some values we usually only talk about. Our college day care runs late to help out but it’s still tiring for the Moms.

    1. When my husband and I lived in Houston, there were so many Muslim fellows with him there was no room for favors!

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I have always been impressed by Ramadan and the values it embraces and expresses.

    Have you followed the story around the Algerian football team’s observance of Ramadan? Unfortunately, the media coverage in the English-language media seems to have devolved into a tempest in a teacup, but I thought that the question of whether or not the players would observe Ramadan created a thought-provoking situation. I don’t know whether any players did in fact observe the fast, and I was a bit worried for the players’ safety if they were fasting – but I thought that a decision to observe a spiritual practice at the risk of success in a football game would be extremely admirable.

    I’m not expressing myself well, but I think this part of a related conversation about competing, and the nature of winning or success. To my mind, the winners in this case would be the Muslim players who follow their conscience, regardless of the result on the field.

    1. Hi Michael, well aside from your broader point there, the general consensus in Islam as far as I am aware is that when you are traveling you are allowed to NOT fast Ramadan and make the days up later in the year. It is quite explicit in the Quran that this is allowed, actually. So… There should not have been a controversy in the first place since the Algerians were playing abroad!
      But your larger point is more interesting. I like to play games that are NOT competitive, not focused on extrinsic reward, etc. But how many are there designed that way?

      1. I think the “controversy” reflects the fact that Islam is poorly understood in the West. I did read that the Algerian team had consulted an imam who was advising them on proper conduct with respect to Ramadan.

        What did you think of the discussion on non-competitive games during the CLMOOC Twitter chat on Thursday? I’m still catching up on what I missed. 🙂

        1. I am still catching up, too! (Or not, but wanting to!) I am a big fan on non-competitive learning/gaming, and noticed the discussion veered towards how MMORPGs and how they foster gaming as a community thing not a competition. Need to look into that… A “we all win when we collaborate” thing…

  3. Ownership of your own beliefs seems more important here. A person being honest in their faith shouldn’t judged be a non-believer because they don’t rules. To me, the Algerians playing football seems the most appropriate expression of their given talents. I think the high level players of a sport participate for themselves and team mates. People who are prepared to label this as “patriotic competition” are turning loyalties of community and people into love of the abstractions of country and team.

    Am I too idealistic and see the urge to excel is an act of spirituality while the act of performing for money and the false values of business we call competition is just commerce? I wouldn’t describe myself as “religious” but if I speak to god it’s my best possible self that speaks back to keep me trying to do my best.

  4. Using the term “god” always presents problems and I wish there was another term for a model of decency that hadn’t been wrecked. I just mentioned Ramadan in the Lebanese grocery today and all the non-Muslims were on me about my “Christian disrespect” for noticing both that strawberries were on sale and the place was half full at noon.The assumptions around religion even get me going. When I was a kid, members of the Hell’s Angles motorcycle used to physically attack us when we were protesting the Vietnam war for being Goddless Commies. As did members of the “respectable” white churches over our complaints directed at racial discrimination practice by “nice” restaurants.

    Growing up as a Unitarian I wonder if my concept of god is properly theorized?

    1. To this day, I cannot understand how religious people tend to be less tolerant, when all religions preach tolerance of different others. Is it a self-righteousness?

      Re your last question: what is “proper” anyway?

  5. Intolerance does seem out of place in religion and Karen Armstrong has written about it better than I can. My understanding of Islam begins with the call to approach each other from our sameness. As the same we can see qualities and learn to forgive mistakes. We aren’t so hard on each other then. With difference someone instantly becomes “not us” and though difference in an intellectual way is exciting and trains us to be tolerant and expansive, those are a lot of things to take into account in a moment of encounter so we simply recoil, note differences and dwell on that.

    There appears in all belief system an “accepted” understanding of god. In Christianity each sect has a list in order to guide its members to performance of proper duty–group rules I guess. Growing up as a Unitarian I sensed that being good to people, thought clearly written in Biblical scripture was expected of me without further conditions or expectations. Other Christians were all over the map on following this rule and it confused me. In some ways I guess I was being too rigid? Sometime you believe something and can’t allow yourself excuses. Is that a form of intolerance?

    1. I love Karen Armstrong and the general concept of what I understand Unitarianism to be. Technically, Islam should have some unitarian principles in the sense that anyone who “believes” falls under one category of “believers”, but that excludes non-believers so is problematic. And of course, it ends up excluding different forms of “belief” about who is God, how do we approach Him, etc.
      You’d think people would not need religion to guide them on how to treat each other well… But apparently some do… Then some allow religion to misguide them as well. I don’t know what it is…

  6. Thinking of religions as universal philosophies does leave out the context of people’s lives at the time and place each was created. Interesting that different people had inspirational visions of how to treat each other and maybe leave off whacking everyone you didn’t agree with. The beginning of rules to live by in a diversely populated world? In today’s world we do have diversity in mixing people of different beliefs, but during the Axial Era times I wonder if people were even aware of different peoples and beliefs?

    Very cool idea to be aware that people who are familiar with each other might treat each other well and not be so good at it with strangers. It anticipates a more crowded world. How about a game focused on trusting strangers? How can we be tolerant of the unknown when we are unsure if it threatens us? Don’t answer, this sounds like and after-Ramadan project:-)

    1. Love the idea, of trusting strangers and openness to the unknown, Scott! Definitely something to take up again. It’s something more than empathy even, and an important attitude towards a life that is definitely going to be uncertain…
      I do think that very often mistrust comes from misunderstanding, and discomfort with uncertainty… Need to think about this some more.

      Interestingly, though, the Quran states explicitly that God created humans of different breeds and tribes in order for them to meet and get to know each other… In historical context, thats not so strange for Arabs a the time because they were traders and so many traveled and did mix with people of different breeds and tribes, I am guessing like India, China, Levant, Persia and North Africa all the way down to Ethiopia, even. There is also a saying (of the prophet’s maybe?) that there is no “advantage” for an Arab over a non-Arab except by the strength of their fear of God (as in, how God-fearing or faithful they are). Of course, the saying is in itself kind of arrogant in assuming that the default preference or privilege is for Arabs, but I guess one’s default worldview stems from one’s own culture, and everything else is automatically “other”.

  7. I’d forgotten about the trading Arabs and their exposure to other cultures–to the difference of others. Took a communications course a long time ago and the understanding was that writing was invented to record trades among people who may not see each other for long times. Today we think of commerce or business as neutral to bad but as a trader with contacts all over an uncharted world it must have been an exciting (and dangerous) life. By writing obligations down a system could be established that could have categories of trust for each category of “stranger.”

    History of trade could be a great source of material for learning to accommodate the existence and benefits of strangers. A trader may not like someone else but the “value” of knowing them can at first be the advantage of mutually beneficial trade–a very different mindset than simply attacking and pillaging to get what you want.

    Ramadan for friends in Edmonton which is south of us: sunrise 5:12 am / sunset !0:04 pm. Long day.

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