Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Merry Ramadan.

Every year, hundreds of millions of Muslims celebrate the Muslim month of "Ramadan" which involves fasting during daylight hours, and then eating (and celebrating) after dark. While there was lots of rock throwing during the day at Israeli cars on the roads of the Shomron, last night, it was very quiet. Not a Moslem to be seen -- not a car, not a soul. It wasn't till later in the evening that things picked up again.

To celebrate the start of Ramadan, it is customary for Muslims in the city of Jerusalem, to fire a canon at the beginning and end of the month of Ramadan, and Jerusalem City Mayor, Uri Lopiliansky had the distinct honor of firing the canon (it's fired other times as well during Ramadan, but I don't know exactly when).

The Jerusalem Municipality purchased 87 canon shells for the ceremony, at a cost of 6,800 NIS.

Here are some pictures of the ceremonial canon firing:

Pictures courtesy of NRG and NFC

In light of my posting yesterday that the police aren't happy with Jews blowing the shofar near the Kotel HaKatan, I would like to understand why it's acceptable for the canon to be fired to celebrate Ramadan?

Actually, why is shooting such an ingrained part of Islam? The canon is fired for Ramadan, Rifles and pistols are fired in the air (using live ammunition) at night, and a Muslim wedding isn't complete without lots of shooting in the air as well (again, with live ammunition, and there are cases every year of people getting hurt from the "what goes up, must come down" principle).

In fact, at night, after breaking their fast, it's not uncommon for there to be lots of shooting during Ramadan. I don't understand why the Israeli police allow this "custom" to continue year after year -- in Israeli Arab villages like Abu Ghosh and in Arab villages in the West Bank. If a settler would G-d forbid shoot his gun in the air, the police would be all over him in a second, his weapon confiscated, his license revoked, and he would be criminally charged with "shooting in a built-up location."

The closest that Jews get to, in terms of religious violence in ceremonies, is breaking a glass under the foot of a groom, in-laws breaking a plate at weddings, or using noise makers at Purim.

It may be very un-politically correct to say, but Islam and guns seem to be very intertwined.

Anyone out there have a different opinion?

So the next time you want to use racial profiling for Muslims on airplanes...they may just be bringing that gun, rifle or canon shell with them to celebrate Ramadan in the very best expression of freedom of religion.

Bonus Question: Yet why do knighting ceremonies also use swords? Could Christianity have latent hints of weaponry in it's religion as well?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


tafka PP said...

a Muslim wedding isn't complete without lots of shooting in the air as well

First and foremost, Jameel- I've been to several such simchas in this country, and have NEVER seen shooting in the air. (I was even quite disappointed, having also heard the rumours!)

And as for claiming we are free of religious violence in ceremonies- there are plenty who might venture that Brit Mila is not exactly non-violent...

And finally regarding Lupoliansky firing the cannon: As the mayor, he is the leader of the Jerusalem Municipality- a large percentage (close to half) of his municipal constituents are Muslims. Makes sense, especially in view of the fact that there's more cooperation across the city than you might think.

And btw it's "Ramadan Kareem"

tafka PP said...

- sorry, end of comment got cut off-

- and when I wished a Muslim that this morning, she answered with "Shana Tova" :)

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Tafka PP: Youve never heard or seen anything about this? I will have to scrounge up articles from the papers about kids who have been hurt and killed in the Galil from wedding-fire.

Feel free to call the IDF mokdim on any given night in the Shomron and say you hear gunfire from any given village. They will tell you
"wedding celebration".

"Makes sense, especially in view of the fact that there's more cooperation across the city than you might think. My issue had nothing to do with cooperation (which definitely exists on some level) but that firearms and weapons are an integral part of the religion and customs.

Brit Mila is a procedure, in which a knife is used for a purpose.

Shooting in the air is not a "procedure" but rather adds "ambiance" to an event.

I will try to find some articles to shed more light on this issue...

Frum Jew said...

I have a different question for you, Jameel. Here in NY, the mayor is basically the head of the Police Department. To a large degree, what he says, goes.
How is it that the police in a municipality led by an obviously orthodox Jew can do IN JERUSALEM what you described the other day?

It doesn't make sense to this chutz laraetzdiker.

Gee a Moron! said...

Of course there is latent weaponry in Christianity. Their very symbol (a cross) is an instrument of torture.

JoeSettler said...

pp: Sorry, but shooting is a big part of palestinian celebrations. Even the PA told their people they have to tone down the shootings after the guests kept going to the hospital (and they weren't referring to when the Palestinans shot up Jewish celebrations).



Lion of Zion said...


shooting rifles in the air is so old school. don't the arab celebrants realize that times have changed and that suicide bombers, not rifles, are the weapons of choice these days? instead of firing rifles at their weddings they should blow up some suicide bombers. don't you know any progressive clerics at the muqata with whom you can take up this matter?

Lion of Zion said...

gee a moron!,

the crucifix was an instrument of torture for the romans, not the christians. christians adopted it as a symbol for precisely the opposite reason: jesus suffered so humans (i.e., christians) no longer need to. so if anything, for christians the crucifix is a symbol of divine mercy.

(of course all this is christian theology, not what often transpires in the real world.)

tafka PP said...

Erm- I wasn't claiming that Arab weddings don't incorporate shooting into the air: I just said that all the ones I'd been to were shooting free, thereby disputing your claim that "a Muslim wedding isn't complete without..."

But as for Brit Mila, again, there are many who would find the "purpose" questionable/ unnecessary. I do see what you're getting at with this post, though: That Jews are therefore less "violent" because we don't fire rifles in the air at smachot (or for other reasons except in self-defence.) Neither do we photograph our kids holding them. We don't do many things that the Muslims do. (We also don't pray to an instrument of torture/"divine mercy".)

So all said, is this supposed to make us feel better about the parts of our religion which are less palatable?!

Jack Steiner said...

there are plenty who might venture that Brit Mila is not exactly non-violent...

Here in LA a bris never ends until we employ elements of Festivus in which we engage in feats of strength.

JoeSettler said...

pp: Want to see pictures of my kid holding my M-16?

For Purim I'm getting him a cute suicide bomber outfit I saw in Ramallah.

As for praying, we clearly demand vengence on our (or G/d's) enemies, but that is a more complicated theological discussion that Rav Nebentsal explains quite nicely in one of his High Holiday books.

YMedad said...

Simple, FrumJew, the police are a national bureaucratic unit, not local. There is a move by mayors to begin independently to employ security forces but that is still problematic. The system is unlike the States.

YMedad said...

Here's the way the sword part of the ceremony goes:

Their Majesties (using Oathbinder):

"In remembrance of oaths given and received." (Strike the right shoulder)

"In remembrance of your lineage and obligations." (Strike the left shoulder)

"Be thou a good knight." (Strike the head)

"Rise, Sir XXX."

and there's this explanation:

The Sword represents the Knight's right to dispense justice. The double edge of the blade ever reminds the Knight to temper justice with mercy. As the steel of the Sword must be tempered in fire and water, so must the soul of the Knight be tempered by adversity and compassion.

The person vesting the Candidate with the Sword should say as he nears completion:

Sword: Never draw this in anger.

kasamba said...

What I want to know is- what did he stuff the cannon with???

Chana said...

Okay. Here I object.

At the horse races, they also fire a gun to begin the race. Does that mean Americans are inundated with violence (and I'm not talking television)?

It's a symbol, this gun-shooting or canon-launching, a symbol and (please God) nothing more. Not signs of latent violence, because if you say that, you'll have to see violence everywhere.

While we're at it, just because the Jewish religion as MODERNLY practiced doesn't fire guns at the beginning of a ceremony, the ideas Judaism contains, a.k.a. erase Amalek, Milchemes Mitzvah and the like are by no means peacable.

I don't think starting name-calling sessions (which I don't think you meant, by the way, but what this could deteriorate into...) will accomplish anything worthwhile, especially as we live in glass houses where this is concerned.

sobersubmrnr said...

Tafka pp:

"We also don't pray to an instrument of torture/"divine mercy"."

Neither do we. It's a symbol, not an idol.

Liberated Land said...

There's nothing even remotly violent in the Jewish religion.

As we say in Psalm 149...

6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;

7. To execute vengeance upon the Goyim, and chastisements upon the peoples;

8.To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;

9. To execute upon them the judgment written; that will be the splendor of all His followers, Halleluyah!


As I said, non-violent!

kishnevi said...

Jameel, wasn't your mispent youth mispent here in the US? Don't you recall the charming urban custom of shooting guns into the air to celebrate New Years, Super Bowl victories, etc? While the only Moslems around made sure the steel shutters on their convenience stores were very tightly secured?

Obviously, as a mispent youth, you never were taught that a canon may be a musical form involving polyphony and strict repetition of the main theme, or a Christian clergyman attached to a cathedral or abbey, or an ecclestiastical law, but never involves ammunition unless the n is doubled?

And the dubbing of a knight was a military ceremony overlaid with a veneer of Christianity.

tafka PP said...

sobersubmr- I was being sarcastic, trying to express how much I dislike the "my religion is less violent/less convoluted/better than yours" game that seemed to be developing. Unfortunately my sarcasm never comes across very well in a comments section.

Joe- well, if it works for you...

sobersubmrnr said...

Tafka pp -

No problem, sorry for the misunderstanding. :)

Dot Co Dot Il said...

Can the cannon be fired at Lupoliansky?

Pragmatician said...

Whenever there's an arabic wedding the entire city is forced to suffer with the poor bride.
Luckily loade dguns are illegal to fire for, so it's just a bunch of shouting and clapping.

A-List said...

Intresting blog

bec said...

i guess the best that we can hope for is that during the feasting, the muslims should be sooo relieved to eat that they stuff themselves to the point of bursting their stomachs. that way, they will not be able to do much else other than writhe in pain until the buzzards show up. this will alleviate the shooting problems for sure!

Elchonon said...

The issue isnt so much regarding the arabs shooting guns. rather, its the fact that during ramadan, the police just made rules for the jews of the old city not to walk down certain streets..

JoeSettler said...

But it's for the Jews safety.

The police openly acknowledge they can't or won't fully protect the Jewish sector of society against Arab/Moslem violence.

Besides, Jews are sheep.

I don't see everyone getting up in arms about it, so it's easier to sometimes put the restrictions on citizens rather than on the enemy.

bluke said...

frum jew,

The police works differently in Israel. In Israel, there are no local police. The police is national. The city of Jerusalem (and any other city) does not have a police force. The national police force has stations in Jerusalem and offciers assigned there. Therefore the mayor has little control of what the police do.

Frum Jew said...

"Jameel, wasn't your mispent youth mispent here in the US? Don't you recall the charming urban custom of shooting guns into the air to celebrate New Years, Super Bowl victories, etc?"

To my knowledge, here in the U.S., when this custom is displayed, blanks are used. I've never heard of anyone using live ammo at a Super Bowl.

M. Simon said...

Tchaikovsky says the cannon is a musical instrument.

BTW the shooting of guns for celebration is quite common. The French call it "feu de joie". Not uncommon in the English Army of the era (1812) either. Wellington was almost killed by a celebrant.

If the Jews weren't so nice they could go all Black September on the Palis and calm them down for decades.

M. Simon said...

Tribalists understand severe whippings. If tthat doesn't work steal their women and children.


The mores of a tribal culture are different.

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