Ramadan: Light Up My Life

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

ramadan2The celebration of Ramadan, in the Middle East region, is a spectacular affair full of worship, fasting and just being kind to your fellow neighbor. Restaurants, cafes and local businesses pull out all of the stops by offering special late night menus and a special dessert menu to tempt just about any palate. While food is a big part of the Ramadan tradition, since the breaking of the fast is one of the great joy’s bestowed upon Muslims by God Almighty, there is also another tradition that continues to grow bigger with each passing year.

The holy season of Ramadan heralds in a whole month full of blessings that fill the Muslim’s heart with joy, from the crack of dawn until the sun makes its serene descent towards the gilded horizon. However, once the sun sets, there is nothing dim about the auspicious nights of Ramadan.  From Cairo to Palestine, tiny lanterns and strands of brightly colored bulbs ensure that the Ramadan nights sparkle. The skies are set aglow with brightly colored lights that either hang effortlessly midair or are manipulated into grandiose shapes in all sizes.

While most Islamic nations in the region do trim city streets with Ramadan fare, there is one tiny municipality that just does it better. In Abu Dhabi, which is a municipality of the United Arab Emirates, the streets are decked out in thousands upon thousands of tiny bulbs. Each year, teams of workers hang and dangle countless numbers of lights, lanterns and decorations all around the municipality. This year is no different, as the Abu Dhabi government shelled out a massive $136,000 to light up parts of the municipality’s infrastructure.

In just over two weeks, workers completed the gargantuan task in record time. Bridges and tunnels around the Corniche serve as the foundation for the elaborate decorations which includes giant stars, golden crescents and “Ramadan Kareem” signs. Heavy-duty cables, that have been inspected and approved by Abu Dhabi authorities, were enlisted to guarantee that the decorations and lanterns hang safely above. The whole undertaking is environmentally friendly as well. Light-Emitting Diodes, or LED lights, have been used to conserve energy. LED lights use an estimated 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and produce less heat which is a vital safety measure in the arid regions of the Middle East. The decorations will remain in place until after the Eid holidays have been celebrated.

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Ellison Statement on the Beginning of Ramadan

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

image.custom300x0.dimgRamadan Kareem to all. Today marks the first day of Ramadan, when Muslims and their friends, families and neighbors come together for food and fellowship.

For me, Ramadan is a time to reflect upon how I can play a positive role in society. Each year I recall the story of the Good Samaritan. It was Jesus, who Muslims call “Issa” and revere as a prophet, who taught us to care for others, no matter their religion. This message of inclusiveness is one of my core beliefs.

One of my favorite Ramadan moments happened in 2007, when Ramadan coincided with the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. To commemorate this special occasion, the Imam of my mosque in Minneapolis and the Rabbi of Temple Israel brought together their congregations to break our fasts as one. So many people came that we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone. It was a wonderful event and a testament to our shared American values of religious tolerance and pluralism.

This Ramadan, my thoughts and prayers are with those seeking their basic human rights, whether they are demanding freedom from oppressive governments or struggling to have enough to eat. Peace be upon all of them and everyone.

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