Above: Ramadan in Sarajevo. Credit: The Wandering Musulman.
On last week’s edition of Halal Holiday Hackers, we introduced you to The Eye in Islam. The travel blog charts one Muslim’s journey to discover how different cultures, in six countries around the globe, practice Islam. It made for an incredibly enlightening adventure, not to mention a fascinating read.
This week’s instalment of HHH follows a similar theme. The Wandering Musulman is the web-name of a blogger exploring Islam in different parts of the world, to see how it relates to culture, to food, to people and to their habits. His well-written entries chart his experiences and include engaging conversations with the characters he meets along the way.
One of our favourite blogs recounts his experience of Ramadan in Sarajevo. The capital of Bosnia is fraught by a traumatic history wrought along ethnic lines, the effects of which still echo throughout daily lives. Straddling the divide between Europe and the Middle East, Sarajevo is a city of different faiths, cultures and traditions where Ramadan is embraced as readily as Christmas.
During the holy month in Sarajevo, Musulman witnesses this unique religious blend most obviously in the routines of local businesses:
‘All around town signs read “Ramazan Mubarak” and every restaurant offers a festive iftar menu. Special concerts, film screenings and open iftars are held throughout the month. Yet tourists and non-Muslim residents continue to eat al fresco and sip coffee served by fasting waiters. Shops and businesses open as normal – reducing hours as they see fit – but nothing stops. In fact, some businesses find they work harder in Ramadan.’
He then visits a local bakery, where he watches the baker prepare a bread called somun, a traditional food to break the fast in Bosnia.
Food is a central theme in a lot of his blogs, and for good reason. Is there a better way to plan a trip than by the things you want to eat along the way? In another blog, 10 ways to be a Mipster (Muslim hipster) in Shoreditch, our traveller instructs us on how to be a halal hipster in east London’s #vibes and #culture and #NotAsCoolAsItUsedToBe capital, Shoreditch.
Importantly, he begins by reminding us that east London was a multicultural enclave before it was flat whites and fixies; then he tells us how to be both a hipster and a Muslim. Fortunately, it mostly involves eating a lot of delicious food along Brick Lane. Like the salt beef bagels from Bagel Bake that are, as he says, ‘what is kosher for Jewish folk is of course ‘kosher’ for Mipsterz!’
The Wandering Musulman reminds us that Islam is a diverse and welcoming religion. His travels also reveal a few stories about the role our faith played in the lives of pivotal players throughout history. In one blog about Islam and the United States, Musulman explains how US founding father Thomas Jefferson kept a Qu’ran.
Its words on legal precedence, some historians argue, may have influenced Jefferson’s drafting of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Whether that part is true or not, the fact Jefferson owned a Qu’ran reveals his fascinating desire to learn about other faiths.
You really can discover a lot by travelling the globe. Now we just need someone to pay for our plane tickets.