Newsletter : 6fax0109.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
Jan. 9, 1996 V4, #2
All the News the Big Guys Missed
For subscriptions or back issues, please contact POL management
What Non-Muslims Want to Know About Ramadan
By Amin Fekrat (VOA-Washington)
Ramadan, the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, is the holiest
month of Islam. Muslims the world over are preparing for four
weeks of abstinence from eating and drinking and a period of
reflection and purification.
On or around Jan. 21, a significant annual Islamic event will begin
when a sliver of the New Moon is sighted in Islamic communities.
Before the religious observation can begin the lunar event must
be seen by two Muslim faithfuls who are considered to be "just"
and confirmed by a "faghih," an Islamic jurisprudent.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is a lunar month that ushers in
a period of fasting by Muslims everywhere. Their number are
substantial, estimated to be one out of every six people on the
face of the earth.
The instructions for observances are from the Koran, the
fundamental scripture of the faith. Adult Muslims avoid food,
drink and smoke from dawn to dusk until the next moon appears in
the form of a sliver. Only travelers, the sick, nursing mothers
and soldiers on the march are exempt. Those excused are expected to
make up the days missed as soon as the opportunity arises.
Fasting, acknowledgement of the oneness of God and the mission of
Muhammad as God's messenger, daily prayers, charitable giving and
the "Haj" -- or pilgrimage to Mecca -- are among what are known as
Pillars of Islam.
The Koran mandates believers to fast to help them guard against
evil. The Islamic faithful dedicate the religious holiday period
to reflection, self examination, self consciousness, communion
and solidarity with other believers. After daytime hours of
fasting and reflection comes night time activity.
The Muslim ritual transcends boundaries, color, race, national
origin and unifies believers as equals under God whose supremacy
is manifested as the creator.
During the month of Ramadan the religious observance provides a
pause in the routine and a deliberate moratorium in pursuit of a
hedonistic life style.
Muslims trace their religious roots to the year 610 CE according to
their tradition, on Mount Hira during the month of Ramadan,
Muhammad bin Abdallah, a member of the elitist Quraysh tribe from
Mecca, received a divine injunction commanding him to "recite."
Muslims believe that some time in the month of Ramadan, Muhammad,
in his meditative state suddenly was engulfed by the Divine
Presence. "Recite!" commanded the voice, "Recite in the name of
thy sustainer who has created man out of germ cell! Recite, for thy
sustainer is the most bountiful, one who has taught man the use of
pen, taught him what he did not know!"
Within 100 years of Muhammad's prophetic call, the Islamic religion
spread to a substantial portion of the populated world. The Koran
-- meaning "recitation," in Arabic -- emphasizes reason, perpetual
search for truth, careful observation, contemplation and
transcendence beyond the transitory, the insignificant and
In the process of the religious search, the observant finds the
"signs" and the "clarifiers" (Ayat and Bayyanat, in Arabic) that
lead to God as the eternal truth and the source of all existence.
The Islamic quest has been described as a foundation of the
scientific method. Discoveries made by Islamic scholars preceded
European research and learning. Advances in medicine, astronomy,
math and the natural sciences often are attributable to the Islamic
world in the early centuries of Islamic expansion. Islamic scholars
and scientists transmitted much of the classical knowledge of the
Emerging ethnic, cultural and tribal differences have become
barriers to Islamic injunctions for perpetual search for truth.
But many Muslims hope for revivalism that will once again
contribute to Muslim renewal.
China Denies Buying Israeli Technology
By Stephanie Ho (VOA-Beijing)
China denies reports it is purchasing sensitive military technology
from Israel. The alleged transfer involves advanced fighter jet
technology that Israel developed jointly with the US. At the first
Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing of the new year, spokesman Chen
Jian said China and Israel maintain normal diplomatic relations and
carry out normal economic and technical cooperation.
Chen said the news reports alleging that China is receiving
sensitive advanced military technology from Israel are not in
accord with the facts.
The spokesman's denial comes after the US State Department said it
is looking into reports that Israel transferred technology from the
Lavi fighter bomber to China.
The fighter jet is a sophisticated war plane that the US and Israel
worked on together. Because the technology was developed with US
funds, Israel is required to get Washington's permission before
transferring it to another country.
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