Why green light is used to illuminate mosques
Dear Ali: I am six years old and live in Al Ain. Can you tell me why mosques have green lights on them? Thank you. AN, Al Ain
Dear AN: First of all, you're the youngest person ever to send me a question via AskAli.com. Thank you for your question, it's a good one. It's true that many of our mosques are illuminated in green at night but there is no significance to the colour and it's not obligatory that mosques should do this. I believe green is used from an architectural point of view since green is the colour that represents Islam, such as in the flag of the Kingdom of South Arabia. It may well be that green lighting is used to make mosques easier to see at night, as well as providing a marker for low-flying aircraft. However, the colour has nothing to do with Islam directly.
Dear Ali: We just went through Eid in August, and now we have another one coming up in October. What is the difference between the two Eids? TR, Al Ain
Dear TR: This is right, in Islam we celebrate twice - Eid means festivity.
After the Holy Month of Ramadan we celebrate the end of the fasting time with one day "Festivity of Breaking the Fast", as Eid Al Fitr means in English.
Eid Al Adha is sometimes called the "Big Eid" due to its three-day duration. We celebrate the "Festivity of Sacrifice" in honour of our prophet Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice Ishmael as an act of obedience to God. Eid Al Adha starts about 70 days after Eid Al Fitr, when pilgrims descend at the end of the yearly pilgrimage, the Haj, from Mount Arafat.
Some people consider this more of an Eid to the people who just arrived from Mecca due to their pilgrimage. But again, it's a time when all Muslims celebrate and share greetings with each other.
For non-Muslims, it's also worth sending out some Eid Al Adha greeting cards. There is no need to buy gifts. Just simply wishing someone a happy and blessed Eid Al Adha is more than enough.
Dear Ali: In my country when I go running outside I always say hello or good morning to everyone I pass. But when I do that here I find I get some very strange looks. Is it appropriate for me to do this as a woman? KA, Abu Dhabi
Dear KA: Well, from your question it sounds as if you are from the west. Here, men might react with a degree of reticence when greeted by a woman they haven't met. Don't take this personally - it's not meant to be unfriendly. On the contrary, it is aimed at giving women privacy, and keeping our distance is our way of showing respect. And if your outfit is a little revealing - as is usually the case with sports kit - men should be even more hesitant to engage.
In our religion, we are encouraged to smile at one another and be courteous. We would not stare at a woman or give her a smiling look that could give an inappropriate signal. Therefore, most men simply won't look in the first place and that may leave the impression that they don't reciprocate your friendly smile.
Dear Ali: What is the Islamic view of tattoos? JJ, Vancouver
Dear JJ: Tattoos are unlawful in Islam. They are frowned upon in Arab culture, are not appreciated in Gulf societies and are even illegal in some places. If you are set on getting a tattoo, do it outside the UAE. Ensure it doesn't show easily on uncovered areas of your body, such as your arms, face or the back of the legs. But bear in mind that if you get a tattoo in a more hidden area, it still isn't cool to reveal your body to a stranger.
Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.
Updated: September 28, 2012 04:00 AM