Monday, October 18, 2004


Cultural Sensitivity

Ramadan began at Sunset 14 October. Like any good military operation it comes with instructions for U.S. Personnel all neatly packaged on a wallet sized card. I will post pix of the card. Here is what it says. Front:

Ramadan 2004
Information Card
* Ramadan (pronounced Ramazan in Afghanistan) will begin on the evening of 14 October and officially cease on the evening of 12 November although celebrations are likely to continue for several more nights.
* The fourth pillar of Islam is Ramadan which by the Holy Quran, is a month long period of fasting during the ninth month of the Islamic Year.
* Every evening during Ramadan Muslims come to Iftar to worship and eat.
* During this monthlong fast, Muslims must abstain from food, drink and sexual activity during the period from dawn to sunset.
* The month of Ramadan ends with one of the two major Islamic celebrations, the feast of breaking the fast called Eid al-Fitar, special celebration, and gift giving.
* Muslims will gather for prayer at dawn, mid-day, sunset and the Al isha' prayer which is the main gathering of the day.
* During the Ramadan there will be increased activity and people in and around Mosques, especially those Mosques of significance.
* On the evening of 27 October, Muslims celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr (The Night of Power). It is believed that on this night Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran.
* Celebratory gunfire will occur.
* Afghans work from 0800-1200 during the Ramadan period.
* On the 1st-3rd day of Eid, Afghans do not work.
Back Side:
Ramadan Do's and Don'ts
* Do wish all Afghan citizens a "Happy Ramadan" during the month-long event.
* Do wish Afghan citizens "Happy Eid al-Ramadan" from November 12.
* Do remain especially sensitive of Islamic Cultural practices during the month of Ramadan.
* DO remember those participating in Ramadan will probably become more tired, irritable and dehydrated as the month progresses.
* Don't serve food, drink, or offer tobacco to Afghan citizens between dawn and sunset.
* Don't perceive Afghan citizens unwillingness to converse or participate as a sign of a negative attitude towards coalition forces. The practice of "restraint" during Ramadan requires those participating to cease all non-essential movement, conversations, eating and drinking in order to fully reflect on their won faith.
* Don't prevent Afghan citizens from participating in Ramadan prayer sessions unless it is an absolute operational requirement.
There you have it, Ramadan on two sides of a wallet sized card.
To all Afghan citizens: Happy Ramadan.


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