Technology doesn’t change some thingsRamadhan customs prove timeless [Archives:2003/687/Community]

November 20 2003

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
Ramadhan, a special holy month for Muslims, comes up with great, valuable concepts and practices.
Its sacredness and holiness bestow a virtuous atmosphere of sympathy and solidarity upon the people. It also makes people feel for and see through the suffering of the poor.
Life changes almost completely. Nights turns into days as most of the people stay the whole evenings awake doing things. Whatever they used to do during the day before Ramadhan is shifted to the night.
Although people suffer as they fast during the day, people are always happy in Ramadhan. Nights turn into a live hustle and bustle activity with people going out.
All in all, despite the slight differences in these customs, there are lots of common practices in many governorates of Yemen. Such customs should be preserved for they are part and parcel of our heritage.
However, the fact remains that Ramadhan is a holy and sacred month that comes to bestow a holy atmosphere and holy life among the people.
Despite the spread of information technology and other telecommunications that have flooded into our markets, Yemenis have been still desirous to perform religious rituals as well as customs during the Holy Month of Ramadhan. They have never got sidetracked by this technology revolution.
During the nights of Ramadhan, most of Yemenis find the Holy Month a great occasion that must be celebrated for gaining God's favor whether in performing His worships or holding partisan and political meetings to discuss Islamic, national as well as local issues that are of key interest.

Performing religious rituals during the Holy Month here in Yemen falls into three categories:
The first category performs its religious rituals in mosques where they are taken as places for performing prayers and asking God in supplication.
The second category refers to performing religious rituals in mosques and then having nightly chats.
The third category refers to performing political activity among people in the society.
The first category includes persons who are versed in Islamic jurisprudence, the judiciary, mosque preachers, guidance and endowment clerics, students affiliated to Islamic religious institutes and the old people. This category also performs the five prayers in mosques.
Following the Night Prayer, this group takes a keen interest to perform collectively the Attraweeh prayers, (Nightly Prayers performed only during Ramadhan) in mosques. Then, they exchange turns in reciting the Holy Qura'an.
The second category considers the Holy Month of Ramadhan as an invigorating opportunity for worship as well as enjoying nightly chants with relatives and friends either for discussing their related issues or sometimes restricted to holding cultural programs in the form of forums.
The second category also includes a large portion of the cultured, youths as well as the unemployed.
The third category is represented by the Yemeni political parties both in the authority and the opposition where nightly political sessions are held with its affiliates whether in villages or cities. Different international, regional or local issues are discussed by this group.
Partisan leaderships take an interest during the Holy Month of Ramadhan. They also take an interest in solving community-related issues through dialogues or restoring to arbitration and tribal norms for settling disputes.

Village and city differences
Yemenis in villages have their own tastes in performing religious rituals or practicing their traditions and customs during a whole month-long fast which are quite different for people in the capital and other main cities.
This manifests itself in the way meals are prepared and cooked during the whole month of Ramadhan.
In villages for instance, Shafoot recipe, (breadcrumbs mixed with either soup or yogurt) is directly eaten after breaking one's fast.
While villagers are gathered in circle-like groups in mosques for breaking their fast. While in cities, people sometimes break their fast with Shurba, (meat soup mixed with wheat) for compensating the body with high energy.
Few youth villages follow TV series during the month-long fast. But some of youths in the capital prefer to go to Internet cafes or watch satellite channels during nights.
The Turkish Cannon boom has been still heard in the capital and other main cities during the breaking one's fast after the sunset or before the daybreak.
The Turkish Cannon as it has been called by most of the Yemenis is used as a signal for people to break their fast after the sunset or to refrain from eating and drinking before the daybreak.
Life in a month-long fast seems to be similar with regard to performing the religious rituals which prevails some of the Arab as well as the Islamic countries, but Yemenis still have their own traditions and customs which have been still handed down from one generation to another generation.