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It is 'Ramzan', Not Ramdhan For Indians; Else We Need to Fix 'Azaan'

Representative image.

Representative image.

The social identity marker gets an instant validation or boost if you can project it on a global scale. So for Muslims, writing Ramdhan makes them part of that global sphere.

Growing up as a Muslim in a Muslim dominant neighbourhood, Ramzan packed some extra joy for me. It meant a good feast every evening, exchange of Iftar with neighbours, Iftar parties and on top of that exemption from compulsory 2-hour study in the evening.

All throughout my schooling and college it was the age of greeting cards and then text messages. I wished everyone “Ramzan Mubarak” through those means of communication and always got the same text back saying “Ramzan Mubarak to you too”.

However, in past 7 to 8 years I have seen a lateral shift among the urban Muslim population in India where people have started saying Ramdhan Mubarak or Ramdhan Kareem instead of good old fashioned Ramzan Mubarak. It came to a point where some of my friends texted me back saying “you should select the right spelling while wishing someone”.

Well, what is the correct spelling?

If we write Ramzan/Ramdhan in its original script, which is Arabic, it will be same as it is found in Urdu and Persian. (رمضان) Which means that there is no problem with the root word. Then how come there are different spellings in English – The simple reasoning is that how colloquially one person hears a word it is the way it tries to write it in other languages or in this case English.

Sound of – Dh – connoted by Arabic writers in English word sounds like the first letter of Hindi word “Doosra” (second) with a slight lisp. This lisping sound of – Dh - is not far away from the sound Indians hear with – Z. Hence, Ramzan is in all its true spirit is Ramdhan.

If that is not the case, then Indian Muslims should stop writing word Azaan (Muslim call for prayers) and change it to Adhaan (the way Arabic writers write it). Similarly, if a Muslim hailing from a Bengali speaking part of the world calls it “Romjaan” or “Ramjaan” he means the same in its spirit.

Why the emphasis on Ramdhan now?

With the emergence of social media, subjugation of identity has become more assertive than ever. The social identity marker gets an instant validation or boost if you can project it on a global scale. So for Muslims, writing Ramdhan makes them part of that global sphere.

Other reason is Arabisation of words by Muslim elites and literary scholars around the world. In order to show the knowledge pedigree the “Muslim purists” have started adopting this Arabic lexicon which will (in their view) cut them above the commoners.