Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

An Azerbaijani Reflection on the Night of Qadir, and Our Connections with Divinity

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The end of Ramazan (also known as Ramadan) draws nigh and just this past week was the celebration of Lailatul Qadr’, or the ‘Night of Power’ (one possible translation). Muslims believe that the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad happened within the last 10 nights of the month of Ramazan, on an odd-numbered night. Around here, that means there are 10 nights during this time when the devout will stay up all night at the mosque praying. Muslims throughout the world have been fasting already for the first three weeks of Ramazan. As the end of Ramazan approaches, known as the Eid or Eid al-Fitr, on the 30th and 31st of August this year, I thought I’d share a thoughtful reflection by a blogger, Sabina, on her first experience going to a mosque last week during the Qadir:

I was really excited about the idea of going to the mosque and spending the night there awake. In Azeri, Mosques are called ‘Allahın Evi” (the house of God). I truly believed that I was going to be much closer to God. When I was in Georgia, my friends and I went to the cathedral and lit a candle. I was feeling embarrassed that as a Muslim I had gone to the cathedral first. So this was a good chance for me to feel God in another house of His.

However my excitement faded away when I stepped in the mosque. No. I didn’t see the mosque, but the yard of the mosque. When I began to follow the crowd, which mainly consisted of males, my sister grabbed my arm and forwarded me to the tent. It turned out that males were going to spend the night inside the mosque with Akhoond, and females were to spend the night in the tent in the yard on the ground covered with old carpets. There was a speaker in the tent to hear the voice of Akhoond.

To be honest, I was really surprised, because I have read a bit of Quran, and God’s words say to treat woman kindly. Besides, in our culture, in the buses or other places, males always give their seats to females, or they always seem to be protective. Sometimes extremely protective to females. But no, in the house of God, males agree to stay inside and let females (their mothers, sisters, wives) sit in the tent on the ground in the cold weather. (That night it was drizzling). Another surprising thing was that the women didn’t care about it. It was just me asking around why males are inside. My aunt thought I should keep silence. Well I did. But I didn’t keep silence in my mind; I really thought a lot but didn’t find any answers. Although my sister answered this question, it just seemed a pretext to me.

There are so many ideas going on here. Sabina embarks on a deep reflection on the role of Islam in gender, the complexity of our earthly connections to divinity, against a background of not just Muslim culture but also Azerbaijani culture. The whole post is worth reading to get a full perspective from one Azerbaijani woman on Ramazan, Islam, Azerbaijani culture, divinity, and the questions we should all be asking ourselves.

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Written by Aaron

August 29, 2011 at 6:43 am

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