Is it overly commercialized overseas?

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As we pass the middle of Ramadan, the outings increase; more people start staying out later and later, and everyone seems to be in the malls or at local shops buying new cloth to get sent to the tailor for Eid. The restaurants are full, the coffee shops are busy and so goes it; businesses are gearing up to cash in on Ramadan. The newspapers are full of reports on such and such company is bringing in more dates, more drinks, and so on. Does it make sense we’re eating twice as much? Considering we have to be fasting half the time? Then after iftar, it’s all about the t.v. programs; slumped lazily on the  sofa, munching on sweets and sipping tea, laughing at the ridiculously pointless comedies or any of the other shows that promise to bring “drama” to a new level, but end up unfolding into another story of divorce,  death, or some other sob-story.

This is what Ramadan is all about, isn’t it?  Actually it is not.

Did we forget? Wasn’t Ramadan the holy month?

The object of fasting is not to run away from the hunger, work less, and try to sleep it off, but to see the perspective of those who were given less than us. We’re supposed to feel humbled, and consider the others who don’t have what we have; to understand how it feels, and to go out there and try to help.

What inspired me to write this entry is that which I have observed and what I have seen online. For example, balloons celebrating Ramadan, a clock programmed with the athan that includes a compass that points worshippers to Mecca, and an Islamic pendant described on the site as the best Ramadan gift. I mean don’t get me wrong, sending a Ramdan card or hanging lights to spruce up your home and welcome guests is not a bad thing. After all, these are just some celebratory expressions that I have come to appreciate as a Muslim American  and that have actually helped me be able to convey a meaning to  some of my curious non-Muslim American colleagues. I strongly believe that trying to be a visible example of what Muslim life can be is an important way to start a conversation of what we are celebrating. 

Who doesn’t like a celebration?

From a distance I can say that the commercialization of Ramadan in America is relatively mild compared to many Muslim-majority countries, where advertising and a shop-until-you-drop attitude have permeated the month of fasting.

From what I have observed, Ramadan is when advertisers roll out new commercials and partygoers gorge themselves on lavish dinners that are slept-off the following day.

As for motivation to celebrate Ramadan, Muslim Americans seem to have enough incentive.

“Whosoever will perform an obligatory good deed, it is as if he performed 70 obligatory good deeds,” the prophet said. “In this month the believers’ provision is increased. Whosoever will give food to a fasting person in this month, it will bring forgiveness for his sins, will save him from the hellfire and he shall have his reward.”

Ramadan is a gift in itself and the ability to celebrate it should always be embraced but overly comercializing Ramadan has been rather of a personal observation.

Are the methods of commercializing Ramadan in your home country experienced the same by everybody?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by adikbongsu on October 2, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Same goes here in Singpore….we have bazaar sprucing up almost everywhere and everyday and night more and more people are seen spending their time shopping, truly the meaning of Ramadhan is lost especially in the last 10 days of it. The most precious 10 days 😦

    I need to remind myself everyday to remember not to waste my time. I’m so grateful to my circle of friends who are very encouraging and the reminders I have received from them and from you and other blog sisters. Alhamdulillah…

    Jazakillah sister for the post….I like it because it is something all of us can relate to. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Excellent post sis! It’s much the same in Indonesia too. Honestly, It reminds me of Christmas and how the Christians start their advertising campaigns and shopping, parties, etc. That also reminds me of the hadith in which the Prophet (saw) said: A time will come when the Muslims follow the Christians and Jews to the point that if they were to crawl into a hole the Muslims would follow.

    I mean yeah, Idul Fitr is our holiday. We are allowed to celebrate. But it is more commercialized (like Christmas in the West) overseas. I think people are really losing the meaning.

    Reply

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