As Ramadan nears completion for another year, it is safe to say that it has been complicated. In the Islamic world, it is an annual opportunity to practice forgiveness and charity. In countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, residents held out hope that the sacred occasion would prompt a ceasefire by warring factions. Sadly, the violence has continued to escalate.
Before ISIS came to the world consciousness, photographer (and former Preemptive Love Coalition intern) Lydia O. Phillips explored different faith stories during Ramadan. In a two-part series, we share what Ramadan looked like through her eyes.
“Ramadan allots 30 days out of the year for followers of Islam to use specifically for prayer, petition, forgiveness, charity, and fasting. The varying depths of personal conviction within this time of corporate worship sent me photographing and interviewing Ramadan participants. I invite you to be introduced to Ramadan with me, as I pursued 30 different faith-stories during this holy month of Forgiveness.”
Day 1: "I pray good things; that in one prayer God will forgive 100 of my faults--because God is at all times merciful.” -Soma
Day 2: "I have a plan to read the Quran wholly two times during Ramadan. Then it will be as though I have read it 60 times.” -Mheraban
Day 3: "We wake up at 4:00am to go buy fruits to sell in my shop. We will be back at 10 o'clock and its very crowded and we will be very tired from not eating or drinking. Ramadan is very difficult for us.” -Abas
Day 4: "Ramadan is to learn patience. And silence. You should be without noise and without disturbing anyone. (Ramadan teaches) you can stand to bear against your problems.” -Kawa
Day 5: "During Ramadan the sleep is never enough." - Medya, while shielding her eyes from the morning sun as her sister prays behind her.
Day 6: "I'm selling these toys for the children [during Ramadan]." - Shamal
Day 7: "During Ramadan we usually like to sleep or read during the afternoon; we each read the same books one after the other." -sisters, Soma (14) and Shayhan (17).
Day 8: "Each day I am still here at 9 oclock, with my store open. During Ramadan we don't talk to each other much and we just patiently wait for the call to prayer, when it is time to break the fast--and for that I am ready, like a lion." -Goran, shopkeeper
Day 9: "We are eating for 11 months and taking in lots of toxins and hazardous materials which damage every cell in the body...the body needs time (Ramadan) to retract this from the liver, the blood, the skeleton. I think if a human being wants to live in the healthy situation he must have fasting as practiced by the Muslim people." -Dr. Abdul M. Salih
Day 10: "Developing humanity is more important than developing technology. Why have the best car in the world if you have only bad drivers? Humans only need to be shown the right way, and for me--it is the Muslim way." -Imam Nasih Fatah, highly respected, local religious leader.
Day 11: "Everyone knows that dates are especially for Ramadan. And in recent years, doctors have said that they are best for breaking the fast.”-Abdul, date salesman
Day 12: I caught this guy's eye in the bazaar today and had to photograph him. Without an interview, his co-worker asleep on the ground behind him tells its own story of Ramadan. Bazaar shop owners keep early hours and long days-- 10+ hours without food or water in 100 (and above) degree heat.
Day 13: "During Ramadan I practice my violin to distract myself from hunger." -Shene, 13
Day 14: "I don't have anything to say about Ramadan because I am not fasting!" -Ahmed
While the entire city acknowledges the holy month of Ramadan, there are plenty of individuals who choose not to observe it themselves.
Day 15: "I have no reason to be fasting because I cannot pray...to pray you must be able to (first) wash yourself and stand. I cannot do this." - Aso, 22
Aso (name changed) has been handicapped since birth and is accustomed to living outside of the societal and religious norms.
The second part of this series, Lydia O. Phillips' photographic look at Ramadan, will continue on the blog tomorrow.