RAMADHAN When nights are highlight [Archives:2002/47/Culture]

November 18 2002

Each year the Muslims World changes the routine of its daily life for the holy month of Ramadhan.
In many countries of the Muslim world the eleven month system is turned upside down in Ramadhan. With a spiritual significance, new habits and conduct are formed in Ramadhan especially at night-time.
It’s almost like a new culture is experienced during this exceptional month.
The succession of time emphasizes the idea of permanent change. It is through change that questions of human civilization are solved.
The mere breaking of dawn from night is a sign of transformation as the night’s fall is also a sign of change. This idea of change is strongly felt with the emerging of a new month from an old one and can only be equaled to the coming of a new year from the old one.
This succession in the current of time is similar to the flow of rivers which is always refreshing without being felt, causing greenery to gush out.. In a similar way the current of time brings about changes which can pass unnoticed unless man decide to share with time in their flow and generation.
Being exceptional among months, Ramadhan’s nights may be called the month of transformation notwithstanding the traditional rituals which are frequently repeated in Ramadhan.
Although each Muslim country has its own traditions of food, drinks and also its own way of spending the nighttime, yet these traditions become so fresh in Ramadhan as if they were not practiced during the previous year.
This freshness of Ramadhan is mainly related to its being the only month of its kind in the whole year so when it comes, the traditionally old wear new clothing.
Ramadhan’s dining table is so appetizing that it looks prepared at the moment though it in fact is the same table of the last year.
Because this table shows up only when Ramadhan’s crescent rises, people forget it for the rest of the year until a new Ramadhan comes to refresh this table once again.
If Ramadhan has a special taste in the Muslim world perhaps it was during the first six decades of the 20th century in Yemen’s towns.
Before the revolution in 1962, night-time entertainment or gathering on times other than Ramadhan was unheard of as the people at that time used to lock themselves up at their houses starting from 9 o’clock in the evening.
No one was allowed to walk around except for especial occasions like weddings, funeral processions or a child birth. At the rest of night time, shops and markets used to end their activities by 8 o’clock and it was seldom to find an open shop after nine in the evening as this hour was set to mark the beginning of a night curfew which was signed by the beating of the drums in a special quick rhythm.
People used to find no fault with this rigid system.
Therefore the month of Ramadhan during the pre-revolution age provided ample opportunities of free night movement. So people were allowed to move freely from house to another house or from mosque to another mosque. Also shops and streets markets remained opened all nights.
Being the only month on the whole year during which people were allowed to move freely at night, most people give up sleeping in Ramadhan’s nights in order to avail themselves the enjoyment of a free night movement which can came only once a year. It is from this tradition that Ramadhan gained a special uniqueness in Yemen’s big towns, especially in Sana’a city.