Family Journal: April 16, 2021

Minaret of the Zangi-Ota Mosque in Tashkent

Ramadan started this week in the Islamic world and it is celebrated here in Tashkent.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar-based Muslim calendar. This year it is from April 12 to May 11 and moves 10-12 days earlier every year because the Muslim calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year. In Islamic tradition, this is the month Allah revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad. The faithful followers of Islam use the month to fast (no food, drink, sex, etc.) in daylight hours and to reflect on the wisdom of the Qur’an and lots of prayer.

We received a Ramadan starter kit from our mahalla officials. Every house received a bottle of water, a guide to sunrise and sunset times and some dates. Traditionally, the evening meal iftar begins with dates, as Muhammad did 1400 years ago. It is challenging this year as Ramadan runs to mid-May, which is pretty close to the summer solstice.

Ramadan Starter Kit

I am not sure what the percentage of Tashkenters are observing the fasting rules. Outward signs of Islam are growing here since the government loosened restrictions. This seems to be a trend which over the years will continue. I don’t think it will be as popular as it is in the heartland of the Islamic world, the Gulf region because of the secular influences in Central Asia. I did notice less traffic and people in the supermarket the other evening, right before sunset. I took Obi for a walk over to the Teleshayakh Mosque or Zangi-Ota Mosque and (zangi-ota means black)Museum Complex. The large property has a beautiful mosque, madrassa, museum and shops/apartments. The museum displays some very old copies of the Qur’an. One copy uses the Kufic script, an ancient “font” from the city of Kufa in Iraq that feature in many early Qur’ans. I didn’t go into the mosque because I had Obi, but thought it would be appropriate during Ramadan to visit some of the mosques here in Tashkent on my nightly walks with my dog.

Obi is checking out the courtyard of the Zangi-Ota Mosque Complex

It was a big day for Nadia and I yesterday as our son Owen had his last day of classes. He is a senior this year and will be graduating next month. The day was marked with an assembly for the Class of 2021, a “clap-out” and a nice lunch at Loza Restaurant. Of course, Nadia was crying, “our baby is leaving us.” I am devastated as well! Next week they will be undergoing a whole-class quarantine in anticipation of the first IB exam on April 29. International Baccalaureate (IB) exams are conducted during the month of May. With the number of COVID cases rising in the city, we are being cautious to make sure everyone is healthy and ready for the in-person exam session. Many schools around the world are either on lockdown and not able to come together for exams or have had too much Virtual Learning over the two-year IB Diploma Progamme to make the exams valid. Our school is fortunate to be able to administer exams and the Owen’s class only had around 100 days of VL over the course of an approximately 320-year Diploma Programme.

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