Out of tune with iftar

Ali Alsaloom's Ramadan diary for August 31, 2009.

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At iftar yesterday, a friend of mine asked me how we were supposed to know when it was time to break our fast, since we were inside a restaurant and far away from any mosque. I pointed at the 15-inch plasma TV in the restaurant. "We have this new technology now," I said. "Just turn it on, and bingo, there's the call to prayer." Now, I'm grateful to those hotels that are thoughtful enough to use multimedia to make life easier for their Muslim guests, but it would be great if they extended their sensitivity throughout the meal. Just as we were about to break the fast with some dates and sips of yogurt, some heavy oud music started blaring over the stereo. "For the love of Allah," I said. "Not now."

Some hotels think it's nice to play soft, romantic or sometimes what they call "fusion" themed background music, but they haven't done their homework. In Islam, we are supposed to show the utmost respect for food, and that includes avoiding music or loud conversation. The last thing you want during the most important meal of the day during the holy month is someone getting carried away and drumming away with carrots as if they were drum sticks.

I know these hotels are trying to show their respect for their Muslim guests before iftar, but it would be great if they could extend that courtesy throughout the meal.