Ramadan rituals & satellite channels [Archives:2007/1089/Community]

September 27 2007

By: Majed Thabet Al-kholidy
Days and nights of Ramdan have a special flavor that distinguishes them from the whole year. We enjoy the holy nature of the Month and its rituals. Special programs on satellite channels are also another feature, which attracts our attentions.

Due to experiences in the past, many of us mentally prepare ourselves to follow certain daily routines during the month. It includes domestic chores, social visits, and religious rituals.

Everything has its own dedicated time. Of course, watching TV is also included in the daily routine. On the first few days everything goes as planned. TV satellite channels, however, gradually start attracting our attention, and gradually changing the daily routine.

Many programs and soap operas aired during the month are quite interesting, but we have more important things to do than sitting in front of the TV.

It is not a matter of wasting time because we get many benefits from watching TV. The matter is that it makes us ignore the prepared program for the month. This subsequently, affects the other activities and rituals that are supposed to be in Ramdan.

Starting afternoon, after coming back from work, or study, or even when waking up, we start moving from one channel to another, telling ourselves that it is a checking what's on TV. Either intentionally, or by a chance, we may find an attractive program, or series. First, we start with only few minutes to watch. Gradually we find ourselves stuck in front of the TV, spending hours, days, and weeks unknowingly.

Having prayers on time in the mosque is one of the rituals included in the program especially for men. We may do that on the first days and nights. But, when becoming hocked on any program, some of us may hesitate to go to mosques for the noon or after-noon prayers. We may create many excuses for this like 'it is too sunny', or it is 'crowded to go the mosques', etc.

Reading a part the Holy Qura'an everyday is also included in the program. At first, we only delay this from noon or after-noon to night, with a claim that at night there will be more calmness and peace of mind.

Visiting relatives, or friends, or poor people is also included in most cases. Here, we do not delete it because we consider it as a significant duty. We only delay it from one day to another, assuming that these friends or relatives would not be there, or would be too busy to receive visitors.

Time passes fast while watching. Even hunger and thirst are subsided. And all of a sudden we may hear the sunset prayer, hoping if it is somehow later until the TV program or series is over.

No more time to go for the Magrib prayer during sunset. As a result, it is done at home like the noon, and after-noon prayers. The situation may get worse because praying starts taking less time, for there may be a specific channel that will show another program especially comedies.

Praying the Isha and Traweeh or night payers is something especial and supposed not to be missed in this Holy Month. That may be done at the beginning of the month. But when we get involved in the web of the satellite channels, we start making up excuses for not doing it. Gradually, we start praying less of the Taraweeh prayers. Everyday, the situation gets worse till we stop going to the mosques altogether because many interesting and attractive programs are aired at this time.

The night hours also pass fast. The calmness and peace of mind in which we suppose to read Qura'an, and do other religious rituals never comes. One program after another, and series after others are shown. Suddenly, the night is over.

The time of Sahoor, the last meal before the dawn prayer, comes. Eating fast or eating in front of the TV is always preferred. The channels are still showing more and repeated programs so that if we missed anything in any channel, we catch it in the repetition. Dawn soon comes and it is time for Fajer prayer.

Actually, this is not a story that happens to all of us. It may happen or may not. Here, is only a reminder to myself first, and all others, to use the other half of this Holy Month. We must be strong enough to do what we had planed to do. TV must not corrupt our precious times especially during this month. If we missed the TV programs we can get many others during the year, while missing Ramadan means we need a whole year to live it again, and no one knows whether we will be there at that time or not.

Majed Thabet Al-kholidy is a writer from Taiz, currently doing his M.A. at English Dep, Taiz Uni. He is an ex-editor of English Journal of the University.