September 13th 2007 · Prague Watchdog / Ruslan Isayev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Holy month of Ramadan begins in Chechnya

By Ruslan Isayev

In Chechnya the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has begun. From Thursday, all Muslims must observe a 30-day fast, during which they will neither eat nor drink from sunrise to sunset. Communal prayers have been said in all the republic’s mosques in connection with this event. Believers asked Allah to send peace and tranquillity to the land of Chechnya. At this time also, members of their families distributed sweets and other delicacies to their neighbours, in honour of the holy month.

This month, the value of all charitable works, as the theological scholars call them, increases 70-fold, on condition that people cleanse themselves in soul and body of worldly pollution. In this month Allah may forgive a man much if he sincerely repents.

In Chechnya, where one of the largest mosques in Europe is under construction, the authorities have imposed a month-long ban on the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks and on smoking in public places. Those who are found infringing the ban face the threat of fines.

Ramadan will end on October 12 with a three-day holiday when the table in every house will be laid with all kinds of delicacies, and everyone will visit one another’s homes.

For every Muslim the observance of Ramadan from the age of twelve is one of the five obligatory pillars of Islam, coming third in importance after the worship of Allah and the offering of prayers five times a day. It is followed by the mandatory donation of a part of one’s assets to the poor. According to current standards, any Muslim who in the course of the year has possessed wealth equivalent to 92 grams of gold must distribute 2.5% of its value to the most needy.

The last item on the list is pilgrimage to the holy places. If one’s means and health allow, the completion of the Hajj is a central duty of Islam. Each year the month of Ramadan begins 10 days earlier than in the previous one.

In Chechnya, a bad tradition has sprung up in some localities involving the holding of a fast, or uraza, a day earlier than everyone else, on Wednesday, though it has been officially announced that the start of Ramadan is on Thursday. In some villages more attention is paid to the advice of local elders on such matters than to that of the republic’s Mufti.

Chechens have many stories connected with Ramadan. One of the most famous concerns far-off Kazakhstan. Over the 13 long years of their exile there, Chechens have acquired the habit of asking, after the initial greeting of "Assalamu Alaykum": "Is there any news? Are we going to be sent home?"

There is also the story of a Chechen from a village in the foothills who was very homesick for his native land, and who once said dreamily that if he could go home this he would hold the uraza – i.e. Ramadan – until the end of his life. This was in 1957, when all Chechens were given permission to return to Chechnya. The man was as good as his word, and held the fast for more than thirty years, until his death.



 · Islam as a uniting and dividing force in Chechen society
 · The role of religion in the Chechen conflict



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