Goodbye, Month of Hypocrisy (By Kareem Amer)

October 20, 2007

This article was originally posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006. Sharp-eyed readers will note that Kareem was arrested soon after that date. This article is taken from Faith Freedom International. Special thanks to them and everyone who helped. Please keep them, Kareem, and others like Kareem in your prayers this month (and every month!).
+Salib+

On February 22, 2007, Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by his Internet pseudonym Kareem Amer, was sentenced to four years in prison for criticizing Islam and Egyptian President, Hosny Mubarak, on his personal blog .

The article below is a translation of an entry he published after Ramadan in 2006. It was translated by Baal and other Faith Freedom International volunteers.

Permission is granted to reproduce this translation on any Web site, organization, blog, human rights group, etc., provided an explicit reference to this Web page is provided.

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For the first time since I was five, I found sufficient courage in myself to refuse fasting Ramadan this year. This is despite all the difficulties, obstacles, and challenges that accompanied me during the implementation of this decision. It restored in me a portion of my free will, which was stripped from me when I used to find myself compelled to perform practices and acts with insufficient conviction, only for the sake of courtesy to those who are around me if nothing else.

I emerged from this successful experience with new perspectives about the show-off society that we live in, in which the individual is fated to display a measure of hypocrisy to the society so he can get the approval of those around him, even if what is inside him were completely different [from his outward display].

Several years ago, a member of the Egyptian Parliament came forward with a bill that criminalizes those who publicly eat in the Ramadan daytime: A law which sends a clear message to the non-fasting to be hypocrites of the society by convincing those around them that they are fasting just like they are. This is in spite of the fact that the rite of fasting is supposed to be a private matter between the person fasting and his deity. However, what happened during the Islamization of our societies caused fasting to turn from a personal act of worship of the believers who wish to perform it to a habit that must be outwardly displayed so as to not affect the feelings of those fasting; as though the non-fasting should refrain from food and drinks in front of the fasting people in order to help them delay their desire for food and drinks until Iftar*!

Although this bill never saw daylight, this law is already applied in one way or another in the Egyptian street, as a way of life. We find the cafe’ and restaurants closing their doors until the hours of Iftar. Additionally, fast foods, juices, and drinks are not allowed to be sold during the daytime under the argument that everybody is supposed to be fasting, and that the person not fasting should veil away far from the sights of the people, on the grounds that he is plagued with this matter and he has to hide while breaking the fast!

The Month of Fasting [Ramadan] has turned into a public auction of hypocrisy. Everybody vies to prove that they are more hypocritical than others in various ways. It is very natural to find many who cannot tolerate fasting and so they eat, or you find them not performing the fast because they are not convinced of it, or because they do not essentially believe in it, or because they are not Muslims to fast in the first place. Nevertheless, the people’s stares at them force them to pretend to fast in order to avoid the looks of inferiority that the society directs to whoever abandons his customs and goes against the great majority of people’s consensus.

If it happened to be that someone was to publicly not fast in the Ramadan daytime, then do not enquire about all the insults he receives, either directly or by finding people’s eyes following him with fiery and intrusive stares. These looks make the non-faster imagine they are intruding him inside, and they wish to transform into sharp daggers that stab him until he makes his last breath.

When I was a child in elementary school, my classmates used to mock-celebrate their non‑fasting classmates in the Ramadan daytime with a song with the following lyrics:

Ya faater Ramadan,
ya khaaser deenak!
Sikkeenat al-jazzaar,
tiqta’ masaareenak!

[O non-fasting in Ramadan,
O loser of your faith!
(May) the knife of the butcher,
Cut your innards!]

This is how we were educated, as children on this harsh-worded song that wishes to have the intestines of the non-fasting person during Ramadan cut off. This displays an integral part of the looks that we fast-breakers receive during the Ramadan daytime from the society and people around us.

Last Friday, I was in Cairo with a friend. A short time before Iftar, we felt hungry so we decided to have lunch in the first place we find in our way. It seems that bad luck placed us in front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken branch in the middle of the city. We purchased what we wanted and headed off to the eating hall. It had not occurred to me that the time of Iftar had not come yet. I was surprised to find the restaurant completely filled with families who appeared to be waiting for the Iftar cannon so they can eat. My friend and I sat in the midst of the crowd and started eating. All what happened then was that our table turned into a theatre, with everybody staring at us as if we had come from another planet. Consequently, our eating turned into unbearable pain from all the stares haunting us from those around us.

On the night of Eid ul-Fitr**, I sent several letters to my friends telling them, “Kullu ‘aamin wa antum bikhair.” [“May you be well every year.”] I was talking to a non-Muslim friend of mine, and I started congratulating her as well. She interjected, saying that she is not a Muslim, but I explained to her my position by saying that I am congratulating her for the end of the Month of Hypocrisy, and not for any other occasion.

To every human who had to display to people a face different from his true face during this month…

To every person who suffered from the stares of people, and their satirical and offensive remarks, for not matching them in hypocrisy…

To every human being who respected himself and apostatized from Islam…

“May you be well every year.”

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* Iftar: The evening meal breaking the Muslim fast. It occurs immediately after sunset.

** Eid ul-: An Islamic holiday celebrated at the end of Ramadan.

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