Commercialism engulfs Ramadan

Oct. 12, 2005 at 1:37 PM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- As with Christmas and Hanukkah, the Muslims' Ramadan also seems to have come under the influence of commercial trappings, reports The New York Times.

In a report from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the newspaper said the month of Ramadan has brought holiday cheer with cash registers ringing in the malls, although traditionally the occasion calls for fasting, prayer and reflection on God.

Marketers and businesses in the Islamic world have caught on to the potential of 1.3 billion people at home fasting or breaking their daily fasts and getting back to normal life, the report said.

In Dubai, the shopping malls remain open until early in the morning.

"Ramadan is changing from a religious month to a cultural or social event," says a Saudi management consultant in Dubai. "You're using faith to commercialize something else. It doesn't feel right."

Sheik Ahmed Abdelaziz Haddad, the grand mufti of the Islamic Affairs Department in Dubai, said: "The problem isn't that people are trading and doing business. It's that people have taken this month to be a month of shopping."

He says Muslims who take the month lightly are doing themselves an eternal disservice, the report said.

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