Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Walter Armburst's "The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the 'Christmas-ization' of a Muslim Holiday"

               Walter Armburst’s article “The Riddle of Ramadan” focuses primarily on the Fawazir Ramadan, a television program that tells a riddle each night of the month of Ramadan. It includes dances, caricatures, and jokes in a very surreal indescribable way, and gives a prize to the correct guesser of the riddle. Then, interludes, such as a Christmas carol-like song sung by a woman who is not properly hijabed, emphasize a more modernized, Christianized Islam. The show does not specifically mark the end of fasting for the day, but it does mark the beginning of socializing. The show is not technically Islamic, but it still has importance due to its structure around Ramadan. Armburst compares it to the way Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer do not contain Christian stories, but are still heavily associated with the holiday. Although the Fawazir began as a way to entertain children, it has manifested into promoting corporate and state interests, made evident by the prizes given to those who can guess the riddles. While the fasting during the month is meant to install piety and humbleness in those who abstain during daylight hours, Armburst argues that the materializing of the Fawazir encourages a more materialistic worship. When people are more focused during their fasting on what they’re going to eat and what prizes they could win, instead of how the poor and unfortunate are struggling, it takes away the important significance of Ramadan. People are not meant to overeat after fasting and show off their wealth during Ramadan, rather the holiday is meant to instill an understanding of the poor and the hardships they face. 
                Armburst compares this phenomenon to the way Christmas is becoming more and more centralized on materials and corporate gain, rather than the birth of Christ. People who want to see the holiday more Christ-centered dislike how the focus of the holiday is not on how God gave his only son to die for us, and the miracle of his birth, but instead upon what gift to get and give, and what kind of sides to serve with the Christmas turkey.


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