Friday, August 5, 2011

Drums at 4 A.M.

Wake Up Call
The booming drum beat woke my husband and me at 4 a.m. on Monday, a reminder that it was the first day of Ramadan. As I lay trying not to wake up, I heard the lonely drummer walk up one side of our block and down the other, the beating drum growing fainter and then louder again as he turned the corner.  If I’d gotten out of bed, I would have seen kitchen lights flicker on in the darkness.

For us the 4:00 a.m. drummer is a minor nuisance, interrupting our sleep.  For our neighbors who are fasting, it is a call to action.  Women rise to prepare the pre-dawn meal and everyone drinks as much water and tea as possible before 6 a.m. to be able to make it through the day until the evening prayer call at 8:30, which signals the end to the fast.

Fasting from food and water is quite hard, if not dangerous, during the cruelly hot and long August days. Housewives and retirees tend to sleep a bit more during the day, but many working people keep to their regular schedule, despite the sleep deprivation caused by getting up at 4 in the morning.

It’s a month of hardship but also revelry; the 8:30 iftar is a festive meal.  Special dishes are prepared; dried fruits and baklava are eaten.  Grocery stores set up Ramadan displays stocked with dates and ingredients for Turkish sweets.  Television commercials feature special products. Restaurants offer iftar menus. Some people actually gain weight during this month of fasting.

This month is a tangible reminder of the pervasive presence of Islam.  Amazingly many people who do not practice their faith during the rest of the year make it a point to fast during this special month. People spend more time praying and reading the Koran. It’s a special time for giving to the poor. 

How my life changes
Many fellow ex-pats don’t like this month.  Some say that they sense heightened spiritual darkness and oppression.  By 5 o’clock in the afternoon tempers flare in the markets, on the streets, and on the buses. Caffeine and nicotine withdrawal has got to be hard for this nation of tea drinkers and smokers.  

Here’s how Ramadan affects me. I try to:

1.  Lay low and rest a bit from visiting friends during the day. Many of them are fasting, but if I go visit them, 
they will insist on offering me food or drink.

2.  Look at it as a time to focus on praying for our friends.

3.  Be aware of spiritual influences.  I don’t like to look for the devil under every rock when things go wrong, but I remember James 4:7. "Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

4.  Thank God again for my salvation.

5.  Crank up the music and worship Him!

6.  Look at Ramadan as special opportunity for dialogue with friends. It’s easy to bring up spiritual topics right now.

7.  Be careful about eating and drinking in public. Many locals don’t fast, and it’s not illegal here to eat and drink on the street, but I want to be respectful.  This means we don’t eat family meals on the balcony any more.   

T i  This is a picture for you of the most overriding current event going in my corner of the world. It will continue until August 29th. Would you consider joining us to pray for a special touch for these dear people who represent 1/5 of the world’s population? 


Linda said...

Interesting video clip. I'll never forget watching men working under the sun during Ramadan, in temps of 115 or so (in the shade). They were constructing a building in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I ached for them, sure they must have suffered. Occasionally they hosed themselves off.

Bless you for your sensitivity for them during this time.


Alida said...

Fascinating...we were in Istanbul for two and half months last year. We got used to hearing the call to prayer but the drums would have been a totally new experience.

It was a beautiful country and we enjoyed all of the sites there but we did feel the spiritual darkness.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips at the end, love what you do... Going to try to apply it for next year when I am back in Jordan.. :)

Women of the Harvest Blogs said...

Awesome video!! I... freaked out the first time I heard the drums. No one told me. Love a newbie, huh? ;)

Keep it up, little lady!! Your blog is an awesome place to share.

Sarah at The Yellow Dress.