Zabikhulla S. Saipov (Uzbekistan)
RAMADAN IN TASHKENT
Ramadan in Brief
“Oh you who believe!
Fasting is prescribed to you
As it was prescribed
To those before you
That you may (learn)
These are the verses from Holy Qur’an (2.183) that decrees Muslims to fast (sawm) and abstain from meals, drink and sexual intercourse during the daytime of the whole month of Ramadan. From Arabic, Ramadan means “a scorching heat”. Ramadan is the 9th month in a lunar calendar and revered as the most sacred month. It is believed that the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad on the Night of Destiny and Power called Laylat-ul Qadr, which falls on the 27th night of Ramadan and is cherished as better than thousand months. Fasting is the 4th pillar in Islam – the others are witness in faith (shahada), prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat) and pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. The month of Ramadan is believed to reinforce a personal spiritual piety, attain a physical purity and exercise patience in dealing with daily hassles, by feeling hunger and thirstiness so as to sympathize with the underprivileged and engage in generous work.
As the lunar calendar is shorter than a Gregorian one, each year the sighting of the Ramadan moon advances by 10 or 11 days in comparison to solar calendar. Since 2009 Ramadan has been falling during summer season and it is expected to gradually shift to a milder spring climate from 2022. Currently the 16-hour long restraint from consumption of any food, including medicine, poses a tough challenge for any individual. Only about a third of able bodies Muslims are said to observe the summer Ramadan whilst during the winter, when the daytime is significantly shorter, fasting is considered easier and only the “lazy” will miss it. This year Ramadan started on June 20.
The government is vigilant as always as ever
The government, local Ulema and community activists have for some time tried not to promote the holding of ceremonies in these occasions. Every year the government takes precautionary procedures to avert any unexpected turmoil. For security reasons video monitoring devices at major mosques have recently been introduced. In 1999 the government set up the Tashkent Islamic University curriculum, which consists of both secular and religious courses. There are dozens of madrasahs located in almost all regions of Uzbekistan that train local Imams. Earlier in mid-1990’s there were missionaries from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries. Uzbekistan now no longer has the problem of so-called “imported” Imams who generate inconsistencies in interpreting the teachings of various schools of Islamic thought with more moderate teachings. Uzbekistan has reached a level where all of its Qaris – people who have memorized the entire Qur’an by heart – are Uzbek citizens. The Muslim Board of Uzbekistan recently reported that Tarawih prayers are performed in 733 mosques of the country. As the government takes measures to safeguard the nation from unwanted unrest, ordinary people are learning to become more pious and exercise self-restraint. As there is a verse in the Uzbek national anthem that can be translated as “tolerant Uzbek’s faith will lose no radiance”.