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Time to pray and reunite with the community, its Ramadan in Spain

Saturday August 27, 2011 04:07:31 PM, Agencies

The great Mosque of Cordoba is one of the World’s most unique monuments and undoubtedly a masterpiece of Islamic art.

Along with other Muslim brethren around the world, MUSLIMS in Spain also started the Holy month of Ramadan August 01, 2011. Of the 48 million population of Spain, approximately 1.5 million are Muslims and after the day-long fast, they join together with friends and family at sundown to celebrate the day with a feast – the Iftaar.


Many Muslims in Spain travel home for the Holy month, meaning traffic across the Strait of Gibraltar and to Almería and Alicante from Tangiers, Ceuta, Melilla, Algiers and Oran increases dramatically as they all return to Spanish earth – the country which has more than eight centuries long history of Islamic rule.


Reunion Time

In Spain an Agreement of Cooperation, between the Spanish State and the Islamic Commission of Spain was established in 1992 and approved as Law 26/1992. The law affirms in article 12.1 that: Members of the Islamic Communities belonging to the Islamic Commission of Spain who desire, will be able to request the interruption of their work on Friday of each week, from 1 p.m. to 4.20 p.m., as well as finishing work one hour before sunset, during the month of Ramadan.


The celebration of Ramadan acquires a special importance in all Spanish cities--like Madrid, Barcelona and Catalonia--where numerous Muslim communities reside. Muslims get together to break their fast and they organize social meetings in the mosques, says Amin Villoch, a Spanish Muslim. Other activities that Spanish mosques organize during Ramadan include Arabic classes, Islamic culture classes and Qur'an and Hadith discussions.


Many of the Muslims living in Catalonia visit the mosques occasionally, more to meet the community than to pray. However, when Ramadan starts, the mosques are filled with Muslims and they celebrate fully the entire 30 days, and dedicate a lot of time for prayers. This is when the situation becomes very difficult. Though the Catalonian Muslim community puts a lot of effort into establishing new places for Prayers and to be able to continue to attract more Muslims, lack of space for Prayer comes to light during Ramadan.


The first day of Ramadan is a very special day for the Spanish Muslims.


“Ramadan is an important factor in reuniting the community. On the first day of Ramadan around 10,000 Muslims gather at the mosques in Madrid to celebrate the breaking of the fast”, Amin adds.


“Women spend all day preparing typical food to offer to their relatives and friends whom they meet at the mosque”, says Amira Masaad.


“After the Maghrib Prayers, the mosque becomes a place of festivity. Everyone eats harrisa (an oriental sweet) and dates; Ramadan treats which no Muslim house lacks”, she adds.


In southern part of Spain, Ramadan has a special Islamic taste where the scent of good old days of Islam is still fresh in the last bastions of Muslim Andalusia. Even Spaniards in that area enjoy different characteristics from the rest of the Spanish population.


The Baizin neighborhood in Granada, during Ramadan, is very similar to old neighborhoods in Damascus, Syria or Casablanca, Morocco. When one walks through its streets, Ramadan pastries, religious cassettes and books, along with high numbers of veiled women can not be termed “out of place.”


In the Spanish area closer to Morocco known as the Green Island by the Mediterranean, near Gibraltar, many restaurants owned by Moroccans tend to serve fasting Muslims.


Ahmed Aznak, one of the Moroccan residents of the Green Island says Ramadan almost felt the same on the island as in Morocco.


“I feel no difference. It’s simple though. If I feel bored, I can just board a boat and break my fast in Tangier in no more than two hours. It’s just 14 kilometers”, he opines.


City of Dreams

The pearl of southern Spain, Marbella, or “City of Dreams” as its visitors call it, is considered one of the cities where Muslim immigrants enjoy the best atmosphere of harmony and tranquillity during this holy month.


Its streets are never free, summer or winter, from Arab visitors. It also has a big, very elegant mosque. During Ramadan, mawa’id Ar-Rahman (charitable iftar banquets in the street) is also abundant.


Hameed, a Moroccan resident of Marbella since the mid 1980s, says: “In the past, there was too much food during Ramadan carried to mosques by charitable people. We used to eat little. The rest was usually thrown away as the next day more fresh food was brought in. I used to resent this. Ramadan is not a month of food. It’s rather for fasting to feel what the poor suffer. Thank God such bad habits are decreasing now.”








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