Muslims enter holy month of Ramadan amid flood mishap in NW China

08:48, August 13, 2010      

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Getting up at 3 a.m. at a makeshift tent, 57-year-old Ding Xiulian ate a box meal her son received for her from the government, and began her Ramadan fast.

Ding is a Muslim of the Hui ethnic group in Jianxin Village, Tongxin County of northwest China's Ningxi Hui Autonomous Region. She was supposed to enter the holy month one day earlier, but a sudden rain-triggered flood disturbed the event.

She and more than 1,000 others were evacuated to a temporary shelter at a primary school at Tongxin's Hexi Town, and among them, more than 300 are Muslims.

The meal time had been adjusted to respect the dining habit of Muslims during the holy month, said Ma Honghai, acting chief of Tongxin County.

"More than 200 Muslims here at the school entered their holy month today, and the meals were delivered to them by 4 a.m.," said Ma Wenbao, chief of the county's civil affairs bureau.

There are more than 2 million Muslims of the Hui ethnic group in Ningxia and their fast usually starts on the 11th to 13th, according to requirements of different religion sects.

During Ramadan, the ninth month of a year in the Muslim calendar, the Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset. For Muslims, Ramadan is the holy month to purify their soul. But children, elderly people and the weak do not have to observe the fast.

Unlike Ding, who was evacuated to a school, 51-year-old Luo Zhengcheng turned to one of his relatives for help.

"There are seven members in my family. Three of us started the fast, and I still go to the mosque every day," Luo told Xinhua.

Luo thought that the flood was not important enough to influence their religious life. "All difficulties can be overcome if only you are devout."

"Although it's not so convenient being at the home of others, it's no big deal as the fast itself is a test for us," he said.

The county government granted 15 yuan per person per day for those who turned to friends or relatives to ensure their basic needs.

Another difficulty the Muslims are facing is working on rebuilding their homes during the fast, but Luo was confident he could make it.

"We used to continue farming during the fast," he said.

Not only people from the Hui ethnic group, but also Uygur, Kazak, and Kirghiz are greeting the important Muslim holiday.

In Urumqi, capital city of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, older people were gathering at Khan Tengri Mosque Thursday afternoon, chatting and waiting to have dinner after sunset.

"Dinner after sunset is the time for reunion, parties and entertainment. We feel it more deliciously after a one-day fast, and it will be more meaningful if we have dinner at the mosque," said Mutker Mamut, a Uygur who came to the mosque for the dinner ceremony.

Free meals are also prepared along the streets.

"Muslims are supposed to do good deeds during this month, and stores will prepare free meals for strangers who are running late for dinner at home," said Mahmut Xekret, who runs a gold jewelry processing workshop.

During Ramadan, Muslims worship at a local mosque or at home five times per day and repeatedly wash themselves.

One month later, they will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or the fast-breaking festival, that signals the end of Ramadan.

Source:Xinhua

(Editor:梁军)

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