Sunday, September 7, 2008

Some Thoughts on Ramadan

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps, an independent service agency with the mission of
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Fatim: Madu, today is the first day of Ramadan! Did you fast today?

Zac a.k.a. Madu: No.

F: Did you pray at the mosque?

Z: No.

F: Why not?

Z: I'm not a Muslim.

F: You are not Muslim? Then you are a Christian?

Z: No, I am a Jew.

F: A Jew? What is that?

Z: Well... in the Qur'an it talks about how first God gave his message to Abraham and Moses, but their people did not heed it. I am one of those people.

F: Eh?!?! You do not heed the word of Allah?!?! Then you are an infidel.

Z: Yes, I suppose so.

F: You should not be an infidel, because then you will not go to Heaven. You will go to Hell.

Z: How can I go to Heaven?

F: First, you must be clean. You are not clean, because you have hair all over. You must shave your beard, your moustache, your sideburns, your head, you must shave the hair on your arms, your legs and your chest.

Z: Eh... if I have to shave all of my hair then I will be itchy. In comparison, Hell cannot be so bad...

F: No, you must shave your hair. Why do you white people from America have so much hair?

Z: Well, it's complicated. Originally, my family lived in Russia. It is very cold there. But my family came to America in the 19th century because the czars were conducting pogroms in the Jewish shtetls...

F: Your family is not in Russia. Your family is in America.

Z: ... Nevermind. I have so much hair because it is very cold in America.

F: You should shave your hair because Hell is very very bad. You do not want to go there. You must be clean. And you must fast, and you must pray.

Z: My family is Jewish. We pray and fast, but we only fast for one day.

F: You only fast for one day?

Z: Yes, it is called "Yom Kippur."

F: You can only fast for one day because you are fat.

Z: Yes, I do not like to fast. I prefer to eat.

F: Are you going to fast tomorrow?

Z: No.

F: Why not?

Z: I am not Muslim...

And that is what we call a "cross-cultural exchange."

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Funny. I especially like the part about why you have a lot of hair. Glad the Peace Corps is working out so far. ;-)

All the best,