Ramadan Brings Optimism to Sadr City - 12.08.2008

VIDEO - Iraq, Baghdad/Sadr City – Ramadan is an important religious event for the Muslim community all over the world. In Iraq it is special too, people in Iraq consider it as a family occasion, and a time for the family to meet.

One of the Iraqi traditions is to play a game called “Mahibs” after the Iftar, or breaking of the fast. The game is based on a hidden ring and the basic idea is to find this ring. Due to the security situation it became difficult to find this game due to the difficulty in previous years of travelling and meeting at night. The prize for the winner of this game is a huge amount of sweets.

Shopping for Ramadan is important, buying fresh vegetables, bread, and other ingredients in order to cook them before the Iftar time. It is an important tradition within Iraqi society, unfortunately shopping became difficult, due to the lack of security and the very meager incomes of many Iraqi families.

Those things are a shared experience between the Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq. There are a few differences in traditions and religious details, such as Sunnis begin Iftar exactly when the sunset prayer call starts, while Shi’a begin Iftar when the first stars appear in the skies.

In Sadr City, Ramadan became a very difficult time for families living there. In the past constant raids, military operations and seiges forced people to stay in their homes. It became difficult for those families even to travel to nearby markets in order to purchase simple groceries. Their fasting has become greatly increased, including not only food fasting, it became food, electricity, security, and many other things “fasting.”

However, in 2008, it appears optimism is returning. The streets of Sadr City were full of people this year, as residents travelled to special places for Shi’a such as the Imam Kadhim mosque, or just went to visit long absent family around Baghdad. Alive in Baghdad’s Ali Le’abiy spoke with two Sadr City residents about their experience of Ramadan in 2008.

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