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Good Friday for the Non-Christian

When I saw this on AOL News it struck me that if I post Ramadan for Non-Muslims, then it also makes sense to publish Good Friday for Non-Christians.

Different Christian groups have varying traditions on Good Friday. In our church, Good Friday starts on the evening before, Maundy Thursday, with a stripping of the altar. In some churches, there is also a gathering where the priests of the parish wash the feet of members of the congregation, as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, as a demonstration of the humble spirit required, that we are to serve one another.

Good Friday: Origins, Observances And Fasting Rules
by Neha Prakash

Good Friday is the Christian commemoration of Jesus’ Passion story; specifically his betrayal, trial and crucifixion that are described in the Christian gospels. In the sequence of Holy Week, it follows the rituals marking the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and precedes the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Since Jewish tradition dictates that Friday begins at sundown on Thursday, the events of Good Friday traditionally begin with the betrayal of Jesus by his apostle Judas in the garden of Gethsemane. He is subsequently brought before the Sanhedrin council, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and King Herod of Galilee with the ultimate outcome being his condemnation to death by crucifixion.

The trial of Jesus and his crucifixion are described in varying detail by all four canonical Gospels, the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman writer Tacitus. While the specific events and theological implications are widely disputed, the historicity of the occasion is widely accepted.

Good Friday church services generally revolve around the reading of the Gospel accounts of the Passion story. The Catholic liturgy for Good Friday also includes the distribution of the Eucharist that was consecrated during the Mass on Maundy Thursday and special veneration of the cross by inviting individuals to approach the altar and kiss the wood of the crucifix.

Many Christians also mark Good Friday by participating in or watching processions meant to replicate the journey that Jesus took through the streets of Jerusalem while carrying his cross to the site of his crucifixion at Calvary. Two of the largest and most famous of these occasions are Rome’s Way of the Cross that leads to the Colosseum and is presided over by the Pope and the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem — a procession along the traditionally marked route of Jesus that is attended by thousands of pilgrims each year.

Good Friday is also a day of strict fasting for Catholics and some other Christians. As with all the Fridays of Lent, Catholics are instructed to abstain from eating meat. As with Ash Wednesday, the fasting rules for Good Friday dictate that adherents should eat only one full meal with two smaller meals being permitted as long as no other food is consumed in the interim. The use of other meat-based products such as lard, chicken broth or dairy is not traditionally forbidden, although many individuals elect to make their Good Friday meals entirely vegetarian or vegan.

In many countries with strong Christian traditions such as those in Latin America, Good Friday is observed as a national holiday. Good Friday is not a federal holiday in the United States, but several states observe it as an official state holiday by closing government offices, courts and banks. Many private businesses also choose to close on Good Friday in addition to financial markets.

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Cultural, Easter, Events, Lent, Spiritual | 4 Comments

Shopping Rush Begins as Ramadan Nears

“What happened??” AdventureMan asks me on the phone from a nearby roundabout. “All of a sudden, it is traffic madness!”

I laughed.

The day before, Saturday, a day off coupled with a dust storm – the roads were empty, I found “rock star parking” at the Souq al Waqif, and breezed around town doing my errands in record time.

“I think it has to do with Ramadan coming,” I said. Ramadan will start on or about August 20, and the beginning of the month is payday for many people. My best guess is that a lot of people are beginning to prepare now.


Sure enough, today’s Peninsula is saying the same thing:

Ramadan shopping rush begins
Web posted at: 8/3/2009 2:54:31

People crowd at Souq Waqif for buying provisions and other things yesterday. ABDUL BASIT
DOHA: Despite the spiralling prices of basic commodities as the Ramadan season nears sales in shops selling essential food items are brisk as people prepare for the coming Holy Month, The Peninsula has learnt.

The long strip of shops in Souq Waqif selling spices, pulses and rice were yesterday abuzz with shoppers filling their shopping bags with basic food items in anticipation for the 30-day fasting period.

“Definitely there had been an increase in some food items specially spices and pulses,” said Mohammad Robel, one of the shopkeepers in the traditional souq.

Robel said price increase between 30 to 40 percent was recently witnessed, though he claimed the rise in prices varies from one company supplier to another.

“The company determines the increase in prices but fluctuation in the price rise from one company to another is not that significant,” he maintained.

Cardamom, which is popularly used here as spice for sweet dishes and traditional flavouring for coffee and tea, is currently priced at QR380 per five kilos.

“Previously five kilos of cardamom was QR290,” Robel said.

In the same way price of beans has increased from QR96 to QR115 per five kilos. A 20-kilo sack of staple food Indian basmati rice costs QR150.

Rice, beans, curry, sugar and salt are among the items in great demand these days and prices of these and other items are expected to increase further with just less than three weeks before Ramadan commences.

For those of you who don’t know what Ramadan is, it is the holy month celebrated by Moslems as the time during which the Qu’ran was related to the Prophet Mohammad. The rules are strictly enforced in Qatar – no eating, drinking, smoking or physical contact with the opposite sex from dawn to sunset. There are heavy fines – even prison time – for violators.

Non-Moslem women and men are being reminded to wear modest clothing that does not reveal the shape of your body, to avoid distracting those focused on religious thoughts.

Although a period of fasting, it is also a time of feasting, as the fast is broken when the sun goes down, and every night for the lunar month of Ramadan, special dishes are served, and parties are held. It is a month of religious contemplation, and also a month of religious celebration.

Here is what it says at Islam101:

Ramadan -a month of obligatory daily fasting in Islam is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Daily fasts begin at dawn and end with sunset. Special nightly prayers called, Taraweeh prayers are held. The entire Quran is recited in these prayers in Mosques all around the world. This month provides an opportunity for Muslims to get closer to God. This is a month when a Muslim should try to:

See not what displeases Allah
Speak no evil
Hear no evil
Do no evil
Look to Allah with fear and hope
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become God-fearing.” (The Quran, 2:183)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).

Ramadan ends with a day long celebration known as Eidul-Fitr. Eidul-Fitr begins with a special morning prayer in grand Mosques and open grounds of towns and cities of the world. the prayer is attended by men, women and children with their new or best clothes. A special charity, known as Zakatul-Fitr is given out prior to the prayer. The rest of the day is spent in visiting relatives and friends, giving gifts to children and eating.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar, Ramadan, Shopping, Social Issues, Spiritual | 5 Comments

The Street of Ramadan Lanterns

Over 15 years ago, this article appeared in the March/April edition of SaudiAramco World.


Blessed is He who made constellations in the skies and placed therein a lamp and a moon giving light; and it is He who made the night and day to follow each other: For such as have the will to celebrate His praises or to show their gratitude.

The Qu’ran, Chapter XXV (Al-Funqan, The Criterion), Verses 61-62

Written and photographed by John Feeney

No one knows for certain when the use of children’s Ramadan lanterns began, but it is a very old Egyptian tradition. Indeed, lanterns and lamps of various kinds, of many hues and degrees of brightness, and even both real and imaginary, have always been special to Egypt. For centuries before the coming of electricity, Cairo itself was noted for its spectacular use of lanterns to illuminate the city, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year, is a time of fasting, blessings and prayers. It also commemorates the revelation of the first verses of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad.

As a way of giving thanks to God during this holy month, and as a way of unifying the worldwide community of believers, Muslims – with special exceptions for the sick, nursing mothers, pregnant women and travelers – spend the daylight hours fasting. The hours of the night, until dawn, are marked by prayers, ceremonial meals and celebration of the day’s spiritual victory over human desires. After sunset, streets and squares all over the Muslim world are thronged with people out buying food after the long day’s fast, or visiting friends, or preparing for sahur, the last meal of the night, which will be taken before dawn. It is then that young Cairenes, allowed to stay up late because of Ramadan, traditionally gather in groups of three or four to go out among the crowds, swinging their glowing lanterns and chanting their ancient song of Ramadan – just as children in other lands go caroling – hoping to receive in return a few nuts or sweets for their vocal efforts.

Passed on by children from generation to generation, the traditional song, in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, accompanies the swinging of the lanterns in the little ones’ hands. It goes like this:

Wahawi, ya wahawi


You have gone, O Sha’ban,

You have come, O Ramadan,


The daughter of the Sultan

is wearing her caftan,


For God the forgiver

Give us this season’s gift.

Some believe that the children’s lantern song comes all the way from Pharaonic times, like the ancient Egyptian song called O-Faleh in the Pharaonic tongue and al-Bahr Sa’id in Arabic (meaning “The River Has Risen”). In the days before the Aswan Dam was built, that song was sung by groups out in small boats on the night the Nile reached the peak of its annual flood. Certainly, the lantern song is very old, and very Egyptian.

The opening lines – “Wahawi ya, wahawi iyyahah” – have no known meaning. “You have gone, O Sha’ban” refers to the month that comes before Ramadan in the Muslims’ lunar hijri calendar, and “the daughter of the Sultan is wearing her caftan” means she is dressed in the garment worn when going out, maybe to the mosque. “Give us this season’s gift” refers to the small presents children receive from family and friends at the time of the ‘Id or holiday that follows the month of fasting.

In the days leading up to Ramadan, children become more insistent about having a lantern; many can hardly wait to start swinging and singing – for what child, from its earliest years, is not attracted by a glowing, magical lantern? Yet Cairo children may be the most “lantern-struck” of all: Recent research by Dr. Marsin Mahdi of Harvard University indicates that Scheherezade’s ‘Alaa’ al-Din (Aladdin) of the magic lamp may well have been a Cairo boy.

One week before Ramadan begins, part of Ahmad Maher Street, for most of the year a humble thoroughfare in the old medieval quarter of Cairo, is transformed. Usually home to tinsmiths, marble-cutters and makers of mousetraps, for one glorious month it becomes “The Street of the Lanterns.”

Filmmaker John Feeney, who has lived in Cairo for a quarter century, is a long-time contributor toAramco World. He wishes to thank Laila Ibrahim, renowned authority on Mamluk Egypt, for her help with this article.

This article appeared on pages 14-23 of the March/April 1992 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.

You can read the rest of this fascinating article HERE.

I love the Ramadan lanterns. I’ve been to Cairo, and found the heat and the teeming population, the gridlocked traffic and all the begging a little scary. But I would go back in a heartbeat to see this street of lanterns!

For my non-Muslim readers, I found a wonderful site while researching Ramadan lanterns that gives a simple overview of Ramadan: Hamad El Afandi’s Ramadan Kareem. It is heavily illustrated with photos.

August 31, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Cultural, Public Art, Ramadan, Shopping, Spiritual | 2 Comments

Post Warrior Thank You

This falls under “Go figure.”

On September 3, I wrote a post called Levantine/Gulf/Persial Warrior Women because I had just finished a section in Sarum that featured a warrior woman, and I asked if there were women warriors in this culture.

I owe huge thanks to:

Magical Droplest (whose blog appears to have been hijacked so I won’t put in the connection)

Because their answers to the questions generated a huge response. This is one of those toss-off posts, where an idle question on my part brought forth an undeserved wealth of information (follow their references and you will see!) Sometimes you can get a little cynical about the shallowness of the internet, and then you get such a treasury of information that it blows you away.

Bloggers, it wasn’t my question – it was YOUR answers. In the WordPress seven day summary, it ranked number one, even though it was written weeks ago. In the 30 day summary, it ranked number two, just after Ramadan for Non Muslims. Whoda thunk?

October 2, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Local Lore, Statistics, Women's Issues | 4 Comments

“We Have Lost Our Moral Compass”

There is something I need to confess, as I print my friend Amer’s most recent editorial from the Arab Times in Kuwait.

Amer is writing about the great loss of civility in Kuwait, a country where trade routes crossed, merchants ruled and differences were tolerated. While I lived in Kuwait, I was horrified at the flaunting of traffic rules and the reckless endangerment of the population because some people believed the laws did not apply to them.

Amer, with a few differences specific to Islam, your editorial, sadly, could be equally well applied many places in the United States today, where some people believe they should not have to patiently stand in line, or obey the traffic rules, or protect the quality of the food supplies or water sources that provide for the communities.

When we fail to restrain ourselves and our selfish greediness, we harm others – but we also harm ourselves. We damage the fabric of society that protects us from the chaos of anarchy. Well said, Amer.

We Have Lost Our Moral Compass
EVERY Ramadan we are inundated by articles and features highlighting the proper means of fasting, alms-giving, praying and other essential pillars of Islam. I am not going to do that.

Most citizens are decent, God-fearing individuals trying to improve their lot and the lives of their loved ones. I believe the Kuwaiti character in essence is one of integrity and generosity — we are a charitable people, evident by the Ramadan dinners we sponsor and the alms we pay (Zakat) — indeed we are almost always the first to rush in aid of others, local or internationally. We should be proud of this trait.

We are, however, far from perfect. Praying, fasting and spending alms on the needful are not enough to qualify us or other societies as superior Muslims.

Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) stated, ‘The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.’

Recently, we have all been witness to a drastic deterioration in the way people treat one another and conduct their lives — a certain segment lack the proper traits, either due to absence of decent rearing, non-implementation of laws (which they view as ‘toothless’) or the gradual radicalism in society which encourages gender segregation, intolerance of foreigners and non-Islamic ideals and views.

Our society seems to have lost its moral compass; gaze around you, materialism and power is valued over integrity and honesty; harshness in tone is embraced, over humility and etiquette. An individual’s caliber is immaterial; what matters is how one can ‘benefit’ another, the extent of personal influence and how many laws one can break with impunity.

On the behavioral level, this is evident all around us, nothing is respected; people don’t wait their turn, they drive erratically, they walk into elevators without waiting for others to exit, they are rude to foreign workers, they disturb women in malls and public places, they cause a ruckus in movie theatres, road and traffic signs are ignored, municipality laws are ignored, smoking signs are ignored. The list goes on…

This personal methodology is poisoning society — we are all victims of and responsible for this collective, ethical Achilles’ heel.

Follow the law, pay your bills on time, stand in a queue, follow road signs and you’re regarded as a dimwit.

These days you get a taste of good manners when you travel to countries like the United States and the European Union where parents educate their children ‘not to point at others’, ‘scream’ and wait patiently for their turn in a queue, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’
Even progressive GCC states such as the UAE — eager to attract foreigners and investment — do not tolerate any law breaking: speeding tickets affect the validity of your car license and insurance premiums; if unruly youths disturb or sexually harass women in public, security arrests them, shaves their heads, splashes their mugs in the papers, for example. People think twice before embarking on any moves which might offend the personal space or respect of others.

It’s the atmosphere of tolerance, openness and the implementation of laws that truly make an Islamic society, not the number of mosques built or how many foreigners converted to Islam. Where is Islam if society deems Expired Food Merchants and MPs and their ‘state benefactors’ — who dabble in tens of millions of corrupt money — for example, as ‘untouchables’?

People’s behavior forces one to ditch the law because the law is not really on one’s side, it’s not really being enforced — it’s an illusion. Additionally, we need to start embarking on ‘naming and shaming’ lawbreakers and criminals instead of shielding their identities from the public, who have a right to know.

The state apparatus — traditionally infatuated with forming committees, hosting seminars and running bloated campaigns — needs to execute them properly, namely by implementing a two-track initiative: On the one hand formulating an awareness campaign on ‘Islamic Moderation And Tolerance’ by highlighting the work of groundbreaking pioneers and world-renowned Moderate Islamic voices such as our very own Dr Naif Al-Mutawa (creator of the comic book series ‘The 99’) and Dr Reza Aslan, author of ‘No God But God,’ among other accomplished intellectual luminaries — so that younger generations may be able to benefit from their stimulating, refreshing views. Simultaneously, on the other track enforcing Civic and Constitutional Laws preaching freedom of speech, equality and appropriate justice — so individuals may learn to respect state laws and tolerate differing views – they need to realize grave repercussions are incoming, leading to imprisonment or worse, if they indulge in any lawbreaking or negative antisocial behavior. Ultimately, the State needs to step up to the plate and protect society, lest individuals take the law into their own hands and mob rule surfaces.

Islam without proper laws, justice for all and proper education is abridged, toothless — as a society we need to instill the values amongst ourselves and future generations, not just censure ‘external influences,’ the media or the West for our ills (many which are self created). Moreover, we need as a community to re-examine the way we conduct ourselves and treat others — to realize that no good can come from a society that obliquely persuades fraud, dishonesty and ill-treatment of others.

By: Amer Al-Hilal

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Safety | 4 Comments

Etiquette of Eid

I found this in today’s Gulf Times but I see that they found it on (if you are an English speaker, be sure to click on English at the top right part of the page so you can understand what you are reading)

Etiquette of Eid

Eids or Festivals are moments of celebration common to all nations. The festivals of non-believing nations are associated with worldly matters such as the birth of a nation or its decline, the appointment or crowning of a ruler, his marriage, or the beginning of a season like spring, and so on. As for Muslims, their festivals (Eids) are associated with their religious rituals. They have only two festivals or Eids: Eid Al-Fitr (Celebration of the end of Ramadan) and Eid Al-Adha (festival of sacrifice).

When the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, came to Madinah and found the people celebrating two days he said: “What are these occasions”? They said: “We used to celebrate them in Jaahiliyya (before the coming of Islam)”. He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then said : “Allah has replaced them for you with the two better days (i.e. Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha)”. These two festivals which Allah prescribed to the Muslims are part of the rituals of Islam which should be commemorated and the purposes of which should be understood.
Rules Pertaining to Eid:

1. It is forbidden to fast on the day of both Eids, as it is understood from the hadith narrated by Abee Sa’eed that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, forbade the fasting of the two Eids.

2. It is recommended that both men and women observe Eid prayer in an open field as is clear in the hadith narrated by Um Atiya, may Allah be please with her, who said: “We used to be ordered to come out on the day of Eid and even to bring the virgin girls from their houses and menstruating women so that they might stand behind the men and say takbir along with them and hope for the blessings of that day for purification from sins”. Since menstruating women (who stay away from the prayer area) as well as those who are virgin are commanded to observe Eid prayer, there is no doubt that the men, old and young are even strongly commanded to observe it.

3. Eid prayer should be performed before the khutba of Eid as is confirmed in the hadith narrated by Ibn Amr, Abee Sa’eed, and Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them.

4. It is recommended that the Imaam makes Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) during the prayer, seven times in the first Raka’at and five in the second. This has been confirmed by the companions of the Salaf (our righteous predecessors).

5. It is recommended that the Imaam recites in the first Raka’at Soorah Al-A’alaa (chapter 87) and Soorah Al-’Ghaashiah (chapter 88) in the second. Other reports also show that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, used to recite Soorah Qaaf (chapter 50) and Soorah Al-Qamar (chapter 54) as is confirmed in Sahih Muslim.

6. There is no Sunnah prayer either before or after Eid prayer as Ibn Abbas, may Allah, be pleased with him, narrated that whenever the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, went for Eid prayer, he used to pray two Raka’at (of Eid) but nothing before or after them.
Article courtesy:

September 19, 2009 Posted by | Eid, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Middle East, Ramadan | Leave a comment

Another Layer of Glitz for the LuLu in Doha

Here is one thing to LOVE about Ramadan (for non-Muslims). If you wait until all those who are fasting have finished rushing home to break bread (actually water and some dates are the traditional and best way to break the fast and raise the blood sugar levels gently), while they are enjoying Ftoor – the breaking of the fast – the roads are OURS! We are KING OF THE ROAD!

And the restaurants, and the Malls are empty! You can get anywhere in Doha in minutes! And, really, minutes, maybe even an hour, is all you have before the night roads start to get really really busy with people making Ramadan calls on one another, heading to the mosque for evening prayers, taking Mom and sisters to the Malls to check out the Ramadan sales, etc.

As we were heading down D-ring, AdventureMan – and you have to know, this is why we have been married for 36 years, we share the same sense of what is important – AdventureMan says “Look at the LULU!” and I look, and I am instantly busy digging out my camera while AdventureMan is saying “You’ll have to be quick, you’ll have to be QUICK! I don’t know if I can find a parking spot and I can’t slow down too much without getting hit in the rear!!”

(Honestly, when they put up an extra layer of glitz on the already neon-tarted LuLu, they owe it to their neighborhood to put in a photography lane for all the gawkers like us!)

The LuLu is one of our favorite places. When our guests come – especially from Europe – they love that the LuLu has all these exotic soaps from India, fresh fresh pistacio nuts, fresh walnuts, spices and spice mixtures they have never heard of (of which they have never heard, 1001 🙂 ), and upstairs, Arabic school notebooks, and a fabulous sari shop, and . . . well you just never know what. Our European friends also like the prices at the LuLu. When we take them at night, it is all lit up in Red, Green and Gold NEON, it shines so bright you can see it from the sky when you take off, if you take off in the right direction and if you are seated on the right side of the plane. 😉

But ANOTHER layer or neon? The LuLu has really gone to town!

I clicked away as AdventureMan shouted “Hurry! Hurry!” No time to focus, just click, click, click and hope that one or two will show up.


A LuLu, for our non-Arabic speaking friends, is a beautiful perfect pearl, and some of our friends call their daughter LuLu, a nickname, not her real name.

(With special thanks to AdventureMan, who made this post possible. 🙂 )

August 23, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Doha, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Ramadan, Shopping | 3 Comments