Mailbag - June 2021
Bird migration deserves spotlight
As a longtime Houston Audubon volunteer, I was delighted to see your interesting article [Spotting Beauty: Spring wave of color delights Houston birders, by Meg Scott, April 2021] highlighting spring migration in the Houston area. The incredible quantity and diversity of birds is one of the many things that makes our area of the country so special, and spring migration is the icing on the cake! People come from literally all over the world to see a phenomenon that we have the privilege of enjoying from our own backyard.
Spring migration is also a reminder for those who feel a sense of stewardship not only of how lucky we are to have the ability to connect with so many birds, but also of the opportunity we have to make a real difference in protecting them and the habitat they need to thrive, even if that just means developing and nurturing a bird-friendly yard.
Ben Hulsey, past president, Houston Audubon
Kids doing something brilliant
Writer [Jennifer Oakley] did a great job showing off kids doing something brilliant [War Over the Board: Young chess players face off, April 2021]. I used to love playing chess when I was a kid. I always felt odd and different. I am so glad to see a beautiful young lady showing off brains and not just beauty. I hope this inspires more kids to play chess instead of video games.
We are thrilled about the coverage of Ramadan and Eid [Ramadan Traditions: Fast, reflect, pray, give, eat, by Pooja Salhotra, May 2021]. The interviews are heartwarming and have the potential to engender real compassion and understanding. I did, however, want to alert you to a couple of errors.
In the paragraph starting “Fasting doesn’t impact everyone the same way, Ayo said…,” the remainder of this sentence may be misconstrued. The statement implies that people choose to fast for certain days during Ramadan. That is only true throughout the year, outside of the month of Ramadan. Some Muslims do voluntary fasts on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every lunar month and other specific days. In Ramadan, however, it is compulsory on all able-bodied adults to fast the entire month; exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis. The sentence is therefore only correct in the sense that people who are accustomed to fasting outside of Ramadan are usually used to not eating or drinking during daylight and are not as impacted as those who only fast during Ramadan.
In the paragraph starting “On the last day of Ramadan, this year on May 12, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr.” Eid al-Fitr technically starts after the setting of the sun, but it is not on the last day of Ramadan. It is actually in the next lunar month, Shawaal, i.e. the first of Shawaal. It is a 3-day holiday and it (Eid) marks the end of fasting. If you wanted to simplify you could simply say that Eid starts after Ramadan.
Regarding the sequencing of taraweeh and the breaking of the fast, in this sentence, “Many families then break their fast together after sunset…,” the word “then” implies that the fast is broken after taraweeh. The fast is broken at sunset followed by magreb prayers, isha prayers, and finally taraweeh (an additional supererogatory prayer in Ramadan). The simplest fix would be to eliminate the word “then.”
Thank you once again for the coverage. Hopefully these details can be corrected, and some mention may be made in/after the print edition so there is no misunderstanding. It should not diminish the import of the article or the time and effort you all put into it. We are grateful.
Editor’s note: Thank you for the close read and thoughtful feedback. We made some of your suggested changes in the online version.
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