This year it was a quite sober and quiet month of Ramadan. The Dutch local governments were much less generous in the previous years and did not give ample subsidies for iftar meals that blossomed during the last decade as feast of integration of Muslims with other citizens of the country. Non-Muslims were asked to give talks preceding these Ramadan meals and to join the ritual meals. I had quite a few of these occasions last years, where a light speech with some spirituality and jokes was necessary to keep people waiting for the decisive moment of the first date or drink. This year it was also more difficult because of the late time of the meals: starting at 9.45 PM only in the beginning of Ramadan. Somewhat moving forward to shortly after 9 PM. It was a less festive, perhaps even less strictly religious Ramadan: not so much about this religious obligation in the media, in public space. Like in the Middle East, where religion does play not an important role in the politics of Libya, Syria and even Egypt. That would be a nice development!
A wonderful present for Idul Fitr was the dissertation by Fredrik Doeka from Kupang, East Indonesia. Because I will reach the age of 70 years in January 2012, he will be the past Ph.D. Student to defend a dissertation.
His work is about Moses, a giant figure in the religious history of mankind and celebrated by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Fredrik studied the Indonesian perceptions of Moses, worked with Qisasul Anbiya in Malay and Javanese, gave an analysis of the five major Indonesian Qur'an Commentaries, but he also paid much attention to the comic books for children and the cover of his dissertation shows some examples of these literature for children. Besides, he sketches the major themes discussed by Indonesian Christians in their view of Moses. Not the Abrahamic religions, not the different perceptions of Jesus and Muhammed, but Moses here as uniting the two largest religious communities of the world.
There is no Idul Fitr without apologies and excuses. A small devil played with the cover of the book and now we see the hybrid Nederlands. Mohon maaf lahir batin! A'udhu minal syatanil rajim!