30 Mosques Gets 1-Up'd

Aman Ali, a BoingBoing guest blogger, is the co-author of 30 Mosques, a Ramadan adventure taking him to a different mosque in New York City every day for a month.
For the month of Ramadan, my friend Bassam and I gave you guys an insight into how Muslims across the United States observe Ramadan with our project 30 Mosques in 30 Days. But Iranian-American Jason Rezaian gives an interesting and critical look at Muslims observing Ramadan in five predominantly Muslim countries. Rezaian talks about how local cultures can sometimes twist Islam's religious practices. Take his Dubai story for example:
Dubai tends toward gluttony every month of the year, but during Ramadan, things are even more over the top, with nearly every eating establishment offering an Iftar fast-breaking gut-buster at sundown. It's Dubai doing what it does best: using its limited resources for its own commercial advantage. Even American fast-food outlets in Dubai offer Ramadan Value Meals, usually adding a dessert to the already calorie-packed meal deal. At the Dubai Mall, McDonald's was the only major international food chain that didn't have a special offer, just a banner that read: "Ramadan Kareem"--"Happy Ramadan."
Slate: My Ramadan World Tour


  1. Last Ramadan (or maybe 2 Ramadans ago), I read an article about how there was an expanding market for Halal English breakfasts in the UK during Ramadan, and how in general British Muslims, even those who tend to eat the food of the country they originally came from during the rest of the year, tend to eat more traditional British food during Ramadan as it’s “heavier”.

  2. It’s amusing how he basically spent his Ramadan in places where Middle-Eastern ethnicities predominate (i.e. the Arabs, the Persians and the Turks).

    It’s like South-East Asian Muslims and Far-Eastern Muslims (the hadith: “Seek knowledge even as far as China” comes to mind) don’t get any love at all.

    You know, I could make a start at remedying that. Here’s what Farish Noor, a Malaysian academic, found when he went to celebrate Eid in Indonesia, and how it contrasts to Muslims everywhere else:


  3. They do go to a predominantly Indonesian mosque, and there’s plenty of mention of South Asians, as one of them is, I think, Bengali. Uyghur Mosques aren’t that easy to come by in New York, where their project was based.

    If you are hurting for Chinese Muslim cultural posts check out: http://kirtiklis.com/laxmi/2004/08/uyghur-circumcision/ for a sundet toy, or circumcision party.

  4. @AlexG55
    Oh yeah you are very much right about that. I am not from the UK, but have family from their so I learned about the traditional English Breakfast and I made it myself a few during Ramadan. Two Eggs, Veg baked beans, Halal Beef Bacon and throw in some toast and its a great meal to keep you going all day. I dont know if I would do it outside of Ramadan unless I am skipping lunch, but it was damn tasty.

    As for the article, well it was ok maybe a bit over-critical. He talks about how the strict “Wahhabism” in SA on its rules of fasting but to me they sound like the normal Sunni rules. One must note that Shia’ rules and practice during Ramadan differ then Sunni, like the practice of night prayers during Ramadan. For Sunni’s it is considered a very good thing (‘Sunnah Al-Muakkadah’) while Shia’s declare it to be a bad thing (Bid‘ah).
    And the rules of keeping fast while sick are generally universal, if you are sick and medical reasons say you cant keep fast then dont or break your fast. This year with the higher heat and longer hours, for the first time since I was a kid I had to break my fast and lose a week due to an ear infection. I tried to fast the first day of the infection but after my doctor warned me against i decided not to fast and take my medicine. And I am not the only one, as I knew Islamic Scholars in the Bay Area who also became ill and again you must do the best you can.
    And I doubt it was the Kingdom itself that caused his father to keep his fast, but the fact they where in the Holy City, which from people I know that have visited it says it changes a person. To be in a place you know that men who fasted and fought wars makes you think maybe you small illness is nothing compared to that.
    And this his comment how the Turksih model of Ramadan seems the one going forward I find the most inaccurate, as many Muslims stateside are able to work and maintain a modern lifestyle and fast and keep within Islamic law.

  5. You guys all make a lot of cool interesting points. It definitely did seem a bit over critical, but I’ve been to many of the places he’s traveled to and couldn’t disagree with his observations. But I do like the fact that he’s able to differentiate between cultural absurdities and the religion, which is why I posted the article

  6. It was an interesting article but overall I don’t think it shed the right light on Islam. For someone not familiar with Ramadan and the general ideas surrounding it there runs the risk of this article sounding negative. It almost sounds like the oppressive Muslim states are forcing their citizens to partake in a fast despite illness. Also, his comments about the lack of productivity in predominantely Islamic countries made it seem like people declared the entire month a write off and a time to slack off rather than put the best they can forth.

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