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Episode 12: Australian Ramadan

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hosted an Iftar dinner in 2016

Muslims around the world are currently observing Ramadan, a holy month in the Muslim calendar. How is it observed in Australia?

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace. This is Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

 

Italian

Il Ramadan è un momento di preghiera per gli amici e la famiglia per commemorare la consegna del Corano al Profeta Maometto.

Cade il nono mese del calendario lunare musulmano (quest’anno dal 16 maggio al 15 giugno) e dura 29 o 30 giorni, in base agli avvistamenti del primo quarto di luna.

I musulmani si astengono anche dal mangiare, bere, fumare e dal fare sesso durante le ore diurne come esercizio di autodisciplina e atto di compassione per i meno fortunati.

In tal modo i musulmani compiono uno dei cinque pilastri dell'Islam, gli obblighi che la religione impone per vivere una vita responsabile.

Esistono numerose esenzioni dal digiuno: i bambini, le donne incinte o in allattamento, gli anziani e coloro che sono malati possono essere dispensati.

Mentre il Ramadan è osservato in tutto il mondo, i dettagli possono variare in base alla regione.

Adel Salman, del Consiglio islamico del Victoria, afferma che la variegata popolazione australiana rappresenta un crogiolo di influenze culturali durante il Ramadan.

"The Muslim community here in Australia is so diverse. So diverse. So many different cultures, languages. There's age diversity as well. Younger people might interact with Ramadan different to older people. Recent arrivals [also celebrate] different(ly) to people who've been raised in Australia."

Il Ramadan culmina con l’Eid al-Fitr. Tradotto dall'arabo significa

"festa dell’interruzione del digiuno" e in genere prevede preghiere, abiti eleganti, regali e cibo: cibo in abbondanza.

Anche l’Eid al-Fitr differisce da cultura a cultura. I musulmani nordafricani cucinano spesso biscotti noti come kahk, le donne malesi di solito indossano una blusa larga nota come baju kurung e le famiglie arabe comprano nuovi mobili per inaugurare le celebrazioni.

Secondo Adel Salman le persone non devono vivere in un paese a maggioranza musulmana per vivere appieno il Ramadan.

"Australia is not a majority-Muslim country so no one else knows about Ramadan (or) is celebrating Ramadan. So it doesn't have that broader celebration that you find in say, Egypt. (But) In fact, in some ways you might actually be better here, in terms of (having) your absolute focus on the real messages of Ramadan, as opposed to the cultural aspects of Ramadan."

I vantaggi del fuso orario rendono il digiuno durante il Ramadan più facile per chi si trova in Australia, che quest'anno digiuna solo per circa 12 ore al giorno.

Alcuni europei vedranno più luce ogni giorno e digiuneranno fino a 19 ore.

A volte, durante l'anno, in alcuni punti sopra il Circolo Polare Artico il sole non tramonta mai.

In questi casi, le autorità hanno decretato che i musulmani possono digiunare negli orari del più vicino paese musulmano o in quelli della Mecca, in Arabia Saudita - il luogo di nascita dell'Islam.

Secondo Adel Salman coloro che osservano il Ramadan in Australia sono liberi di praticare come desiderano.

"It's not a question of right or wrong. It’s not a question of this way or that way. It's more just a reflection that Islam has so many different cultural influences. So many people celebrate in so many different ways - and certainly in Australia, which is a real melting pot, it's no different."

 

English 

Commemorating the handing down of the Koran  to the Prophet Mohammed, Ramadan is time for prayer, friends and family.

It falls on the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar (May 16 to June 15 in 2018) and lasts 29 or 30 days, based on visual sightings of the crescent moon.

Muslims also abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours to build self-discipline and compassion for those less fortunate.

In doing so Muslims complete one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligations the religion says one must satisfy to live a responsible life.

There are a number of exemptions from fasting - children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly and those who are ill can all be absolved.

While Ramadan is observed all around the world, specifics can differ by region.

Adel Salman, from the Islamic Council of Victoria, says  Australia's diverse population makes for a melting pot of cultural influences during Ramadan.

"The Muslim community here in Australia is so diverse. So diverse. So many different cultures, languages. There's age diversity as well. Younger people might interact with Ramadan different to older people. Recent arrivals [also celebrate] different(ly) to people who've been raised in Australia."

Ramadan culminates in Eid al-Fitr.

It translates from Arabic to "festival of breaking the fast" and typically involves prayers, the wearing of fine clothes, gift-giving and eating -- lots and lots of eating.

Eid al-Fitr also differs culture-to-culture.

North-African Muslims often bake cookies known as kahk, Malaysian women typically wear a loose-fitting blouse known as baju kurung and Arab families have been known to buy new furniture to usher in celebrations.

But Adel Salman says people don't need to live in a Muslim-majority country to fully experience Ramadan.

"Australia is not a majority-Muslim country so no one else knows about Ramadan (or) is celebrating Ramadan. So it doesn't have that broader celebration that you find in say, Egypt. (But) In fact, in some ways you might actually be better here, in terms of (having) your absolute focus on the real messages of Ramadan, as opposed to the cultural aspects of Ramadan."

Time zone advantages make fasting during Ramadan easier for those in Australia, who this year will only fast for about 12 hours a day.

Some Europeans will see more sunlight each day, and fast for up to 19 hours.

At times through the year in a few places above the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets.

In these cases, authorities have decreed Muslims can either fast along with the closest Muslim country or with Mecca, Saudi Arabia -- the birthplace of Islam.

Adel Salman says those observing Ramadan in Australia are free to practise as they wish.

"It's not a question of right or wrong. It’s not a question of this way or that way. It's more just a reflection that Islam has so many different cultural influences. So many people celebrate in so many different ways - and certainly in Australia, which is a real melting pot, it's no different."

Report by Evan Young

 

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