Dubai, (AP/UNB) — Many Muslims around the world began fasting Monday to mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
This means waking up before dawn to eat, hydrate and pray. Once the sun rises, Muslims abstain from food and drink, including water, until sunset. They repeat the grueling routine every day for a month.
Here are some questions and answers about Islam's holiest month and how it's observed.
Why do muslims fast?
Fasting is meant to bring worshippers closer to God through steady remembrance, reflection and sacrifice. Daily fasting, combined with five daily prayers and extended evening prayers, challenges worshippers to focus on their actions, deeds and thoughts, rather than on material desires and instant gratification.
Fasting is a requirement in Islam — a reset for the mind, body and soul. Muslims are expected to show self-control and deeper spirituality during Ramadan.
It's also a month of gratitude. By abstaining from food and water during the day, the faithful are reminded of those less fortunate. Each night during Ramadan, mosques and aid organizations set up tents and tables to serve free evening meals for the poor.
How do muslims fast?
Muslims must abstain from all eating, drinking or smoking from dawn to dusk each day for the entire lunar month, around 30 days. A single sip of water or coffee, or a puff of a cigarette, is enough to invalidate the fast.
Sexual intercourse is also forbidden during the daylong fast, and Muslims are encouraged to avoid gossip, arguments and idle time.
To prepare for the fast, Muslims wake for a pre-dawn meal called "suhoor." Often the small meal will include vegetables and fruits, tea, yogurt, dates and power foods such as beans and lentils. In many cities in the Muslim world, volunteers wake the faithful for suhoor by marching through the streets chanting and beating drums.
How do muslims break their fast?
Muslims traditionally break their fast like the Prophet Muhammad did some 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset. After sunset prayers, a large feast known as "iftar" is shared with family and friends.
Iftar is a social event as much as it is a gastronomical adventure. Across the Arab world, apricot juice is an iftar staple. In South Asia and Turkey, yogurt-based drinks are popular.
Can muslims be exempted from fasting?
Children, the elderly and the ill are exempt, as well as women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating. Travelers, including athletes taking part in tournaments away from home, are also exempt from fasting.
Muslims living in countries with excessively long daylight hours are advised by religious scholars to adhere to the fasting times of the nearest Muslim-majority country.
How do muslim-majority countries observe ramadan?
Many Muslim-majority countries curb the sale of alcohol during the month of Ramadan, limiting when it can be sold and to whom. In some countries, people who eat in public during the day can be fined or even jailed, although adherence to Ramadan etiquette by non-Muslims is often a personal choice and not enforced by police.
In the United Arab Emirates, which has large Western expatriate populations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, restaurants use curtains to conceal customers who eat during the day. In Saudi Arabia, restaurants simply close during the day.
What are some ramadan traditions?
Once the start of the holy month is declared, Muslims share holiday greetings such as "Ramadan Mubarak," or "blessed Ramadan," via text messages, calls and emails to family and friends.
Another hallmark of Ramadan is nightly prayer at the mosque among Sunni Muslims called "taraweeh."
Egyptians follow the tradition of the "fanoos," a Ramadan lantern that is often the centerpiece at an iftar table or seen hanging in shop windows and from balconies.
Increasingly common are Ramadan tents in five-star hotels that offer lavish and pricey meals throughout the evening. While Ramadan is a boon for retailers in the Middle East and South Asia, critics say the holy month is increasingly becoming commercialized.
Scholars have also been disturbed by the proliferation of evening television shows during Ramadan. In the Arab world, monthlong soap operas rake in millions of dollars in advertising.
How do muslims mark the end of ramadan?
The end of Ramadan is marked by intense worship as Muslims ask to have their prayers answered during "Laylat al-Qadr" or "the Night of Destiny." Muslims believe that on this occasion, which is usually observed on the 27th day of Ramadan, God sent the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad and revealed the first verses of the Quran.
After these intense nights of prayer, the end of Ramadan is met with a holiday called Eid al-Fitr. Children often receive new clothes, gifts and cash.
Muslims attend early morning Eid prayers the day after Ramadan. Families typically spend the day at parks, eating in the sunshine for the first time in a month.
Dhaka, May 8 (UNB) - Bangladesh will have a pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition ‘La Biennale di Venezia’ to be held in Venice, Italy where nine Bangladeshi artists will exhibit their artworks under the title ‘Thirst”.
The Bangladeshi artists are Bishwajit Goswami, Dilara Begum Jolly, Heidi Fosli, Nafis Ahmed Gazi, Franco Marrocco, Domenico Pellegrino, Preema Nazia Andaleeb, Ra Kajol and Uttam Kumar Karmaker.
Cosmos Foundation will sponsor the Bangladesh Pavilion ‘Venice Bangladesh’ at Palazzo Zenobio where Mokhlesur Rahman and Viviana Vannucci will act as curators.
“We’re promoting Bangladesh to the international audience, especially through art and culture. Venice Biennale being the biggest art event in the world, we’ve decided to support the Bangladesh Pavilion,” said Enayetullah Khan, Chairman of the Cosmos Foundation.
The Venice Biennale 1019 will be held from May 11 to November 24. The title of the event is ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’ while its curator is Ralph Rugoff, director of London’s Hayward Gallery.
The Central Exhibition of the event will feature only 79 artists -- all living ones -- from different countries.
It will be divided into two separate shows -- one at the Arsenale and another at the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. Both "propositions" will include all the artists, exhibiting different kinds of works.
One aspect in focus will be the "post-truth era" of times, and how artists deal with the so-called alternative facts, creating spaces for complex thinking and multi-level discourses.
It is expected that there will be a lot of paintings in this Biennale apart from film/video, spatial and digital works.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB) - A two-day film screening began at the auditorium of Goethe-Institut Bangladesh in Dhanmondi of the city on Tuesday.
The event was organised in remembrance of late actor Bruno Ganz, a Swiss actor whose career in German-language film and television productions lasted for more than 50 years.
The film screening is part of the 129th edition of World Film Manifestation Program (WFMP), presented by Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, in collaboration with Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS).
Four films starred by celebrated actor Bruno Ganz are being screened at the two-day event.
Two films were screened on the first day while two others will be screened on the last day.
‘The American Friend’ (1977) directed by Wim Wenders and ‘Circle of Deceit’ (1981) directed by Volker Schlöndorff were screened at 11 am and 1:30 pm respectively.
Theodoros Angelopoulos-directed film ‘Eternity and a Day’ (1998) will be screened at 11 am on Wednesday while ‘Downfall’ (2004), directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, at 1:30 pm.
From 1996 until his death in 2019, Ganz held the Republic of Austria’s Iffland-Ring, which passes from actor to actor — each bequeathing the ring to the next holder, judging that actor to be the most significant and most worthy actor of the German-speaking theatre.
All screenings are free, and open to all.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB) – Bangla Academy will observe the 158th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore on Wednesday.
It will organise an event featuring keynote speech, Rabindra Award 2019 ceremony and cultural programme at its Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad auditorium.
Rabindra researcher Professor Begum Akter Kamal and Professor Shafiuddin Ahmed; and Rabindra Sangeet singer Iqbal Ahmed will be bestowed with ‘Rabindra Puroshkar 2019’.
The academy announced the names in a press release on Monday.
The awards will be handed over at Wednesday’s event.
Professor Begum and Professor Shafiuddin will be awarded for their contribution to research on Tagore’s literature while Iqbal will be awarded for contribution to the practice of Tagore songs.
Bangla Academy President Emeritus Professor Anisuzzaman and Director General Habibullah Siraji will hand over flowers, certificates, crests and prize money.
At Wednesday’s event, Professor Anawarul Karim will deliver the keynote speech ‘Rabindranath’s Bangladesh: His thoughts on Education and Country’.
The programme will be presided over by Professor Anisuzzaman while the DG will deliver the welcome speech. It will end with a colourful cultural presentation on Rabindranath’s works.
Cairo, May 5 (AP/UNB) — Egypt's Antiquities Ministry says archaeologists have uncovered part of an ancient cemetery near the country's famed pyramids on the Giza plateau just outside Cairo.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says Saturday the cemetery houses burial shafts and tombs of top officials and a fine limestone statue from the Old Kingdom's Fifth Dynasty (2465-2323 B.C.).
Ashraf Mohi, the head of the Giza Plateau archaeological site, says scientists know that the cemetery had been reused extensively in the Late Period (664-332 B.C.), as archeologists found painted and decorated wooden anthropoid coffins, and wooden and clay funerary masks from that period.
Egypt has touted a series of archaeological finds recently, hoping such discoveries will spur tourism, which suffered a major setback during the unrest that followed the 2011 uprising.