to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
Johnson. This week on our show:
from Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson performing together ...
question from a listener about America's purchase of Alaska from Russia …
first, another listener wants to know how Muslims in America observe Ramadan.
are observing the holy month of Ramadan. A listener named Trang Tong would like
to know more about Ramadan and how Muslims in America observe it. Faith Lapidus
has our report.
MOHAMOUD ADAN: "This is
date. As soon as we break the Ramadan
we start eating dates. Minimum three dates.
Mohamoud Adan, a sixty-five year old father of five from Somalia. He now lives
in Fairfax, Virginia. He is explaining
the first foods to eat after breaking the fast of Ramadan. He says one must eat dates, a sweet, chewy
are between six million and eight million Muslims in the United States. Some were born here. Many others are
immigrants from around the world.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is the holiest time in
Islam. It is when Muslims believe the
prophet Mohammed was given the words of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, about
one thousand four hundred years ago.
do not eat between sunrise until sunset during Ramadan. They fast to show their obedience and
respect for Allah, or God. By
nightfall, everyone is quite hungry.
First there is just a taste of the dates and a few other things and then
it is time for prayers.
usually prepare big meals during the day.
They buy meat at special halal stores that follow Islamic laws in food
preparation. The Adan family meal
includes goat, chicken, rice, potatoes, fruit, a green salad, a cold drink and
warm tea. Eighteen-year-old Asli has prepared the whole dinner herself.
the meal the Adan family and friends discuss their former lives in Somalia, popular
music, the good food they are eating and many other subjects. But mostly they
talk about the Koran, the prophet Mohammed and the meaning of Ramadan. And they are happy to teach the one
non-Muslim guest all they believe about the mysteries and miracles of
Adan says it is all in the book. He
says the Koran includes religion, history, science and telling the future.
MOHAMOUD ADAN: "Part of
the Koran is historical. It tells what happened at -- it tells creation, what
happened. Plus what will happen in the future.
So, if you learn the Koran, you learn geography, you learn science, you
learn social science, all aspects of life."
will last for about twenty more days, until the new moon is seen. After it is over, a celebration called Eid
it is time for evening prayers at the mosque.
Some of the Adans and their friends are attending. When they return
home, they will probably eat and drink some more. Another long day of Ramadan
fast will begin again the next day.
listener question this week comes from Vladimir in Moscow. He wants to know how America
bought Alaska from Russia.
is across the Bering Strait from Siberia. Russia had taken control of the
territory in the seventeen hundreds. The Russians traded with native groups
there, but later decided to offer the land for sale.
American Secretary of State
William Seward had wanted to buy it for a long time. He quickly prepared a
treaty of purchase. The sale took place in eighteen sixty-seven, while Andrew
Johnson was president. The United States paid Russia just over seven million
Many Americans thought the deal
was foolish. They called it "Seward's Folly." Seven million dollars
was too much for what they thought was a worthless piece of frozen land.
But American traders and business
leaders knew that it was rich with resources. They said owning it would improve
business for states along the Pacific coast.
Political leaders said the
purchase would be good for the United States because it would end all Russian
presence in North America. And they said it would help guarantee friendly
relations with Russia.
Alaskans first asked to become a
state in nineteen sixteen. Finally, in nineteen fifty-eight, Congress approved
the Alaskan Statehood Act.
Alaska became the forty-ninth
state on January third, nineteen fifty-nine. Hawaii became the fiftieth state
in August of that year.
borders northwestern Canada. The name comes from Alyeska, an Aleut native word for
"great land." For
its seven million dollars, the United States got Alaska's oil, natural gas,
forests, salmon, gold and copper and other resources.
Alaska is the largest in territory
of the fifty states yet forty-seventh in population. Fewer than seven hundred
thousand people live there. Alaska's nickname is "the Last Frontier"
and its official motto is "North to the Future."
Wynton and Willie
year, two superstars of country music and jazz teamed up for two days of
concerts in New York City. Willie Nelson is a singer, songwriter and guitarist.
Wynton Marsalis is a trumpet player and composer. He is also the artistic
director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Their music was recorded for an album
released this summer called "Two Men With the Blues." Shirley
Griffith has our story.
Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis performing the Duke Ellington song
"Don't Get Around Much Anymore."
Men With the Blues" was number twenty in its first week of release on
Billboard magazine's Top Two Hundred album chart. That is the highest a Willie
Nelson album has ever reached in its first week. And it is the highest ever for
an album by Wynton Marsalis.
they are with Willie Nelson's song "Night Life."
the seventy-five year old Nelson and forty-six year old Marsalis have been too
busy to go on tour together. But they plan to share the stage again in New York
this February as part of the seventieth anniversary of Blue Note Records.
you with the two men and the song "Ain't Nobody's Business." Wait,
who's that singing with Willie? That's Wynton, in a rare performance of song.
Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
written and produced by Caty Weaver. To read and listen to our programs online,
go to voaspecialenglish.com. Join us
again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special