Lydia O'Neil Bullock

30 Days of Forgiveness

Lydia O'Neil Bullock
August 30, 2011
Filed in: photostories

Day 1 of 30

"I pray good things; that in one prayer God will forgive 100 of my faults--because God is at all times merciful." -Soma

Day 2 of 30

"I have a plan to read the Quran wholly two times during Ramadan. Then it will be as though I have read it 60 times." -Mheraban

Day 3 of 30

"We wake up at 4:00am to go buy fruits to sell in my shop. We will be back at 10 o'clock and its very crowded and we will be very tired from not eating or drinking. Ramadan is very difficult for us." -Abas

Day 4 of 30

"Ramadan is to learn patience. And silence. You should be without noise and without disturbing anyone. (Ramadan teaches) you can stand to bear against your problems." -Kawa

Day 5 of 30

"During Ramadan the sleep is never enough." - Medya, while shielding her eyes from the morning sun as her sister prays behind her.

Day 6 of 30

"I'm selling these toys for the children [during Ramadan]." - Shamal

Day 7 of 30

"During Ramadan we usually like to sleep or read during the afternoon; we each read the same books one after the other." -sisters, Soma (14) and Shayhan (17).

Day 8 of 30

"Each day I am still here at 9 oclock, with my store open. During Ramadan we don't talk to each other much and we just patiently wait for the call to prayer, when it is time to break the fast--and for that I am ready, like a lion." -Goran, shopkeeper

Day 9 of 30

"We are eating for 11 months and taking in lots of toxins and hazardous materials which damage every cell in the body...the body needs time (Ramadan) to retract this from the liver, the blood, the skeleton. I think if a human being wants to live in the healthy situation he must have fasting as practiced by the Muslim people." -Dr. Abdul M. Salih (According to Dr. Salih, 90% of cancer is due to food intake and the public's inability to fast properly)

Day 10 of 30

"Developing humanity is more important than developing technology. Why have the best car in the world if you have only bad drivers? Humans only need to be shown the right way, and for me--it is the Muslim way." -Imam Nasih Fatah, highly respected, local religious leader.

Day 11 of 30

"Everyone knows that dates are especially for Ramadan. And in recent years, doctors have said that they are best for breaking the fast." - Abdul, date salesman

Day 12 of 30

I caught this guy's eye in the bazaar today and had to photograph him. Without an interview, his co-worker asleep on the ground behind him tells its own story of Ramadan. Bazaar shop owners keep early hours and long days-- 10+ hours without food or water in 100 (and above) degree heat.

Day 13 of 30

"During Ramadan I practice my violin to distract myself from hunger." -Shene, 13

Day 14 of 30

"I don't have anything to say about Ramadan because I am not fasting!" -Ahmed While the entire city acknowledges the holy month of Ramadan, there are plenty of individuals who choose not to observe it themselves.

Day 15 of 30

"I have no reason to be fasting because I cannot pray...to pray you must be able to (first) wash yourself and stand. I cannot do this." - Aso, 22 Aso (name changed) has been handicapped since birth and is accustomed to living outside of the societal and religious norms.

Day 16 of 30

"This will be our last year observing Ramadan--we're getting too old for this." - two anonymous women at the mosque (Sulaymaniyah, Iraq)

Day 17 of 30

‎"Ramadan, from God who is most precious and most merciful, is a pillar of Islam and since the beginning of time God has sent this kind of worship to all of his followers....all the rules God sends us are great things for our life and our body." -Imam Abu Bakr

Day 18 of 30

"During Ramadan I can't sell pizza so I sell this juice for take-away instead" -Miran, pizza store owner

Day 19 of 30

"Fasting is the fact in all religions, but in the Holy Qu'ran we have two words for it. The first is for fasting from speaking, as Zechariah the uncle of Mary did. The second is for collective fasting, as we find in Ramadan." -El Hajj Shamal Al-Mufti, direct descendent from the Prophet Mohammad.

Day 20 of 30

"I've been fasting every day, but just for today I'm not because I'm too sick." -Abu, 16

Day 21 of 30

"I guess the part I like most about Ramadan is the part where I'm not fasting." - Shawn, 21

Day 22 of 30

"I can divide the human body into two halves, body and soul. We feed the body with food and the soul with worship. Ramadan is the platform for enriching your soul" -Professor Ali

Day 23 of 30

Chro (name changed) spends the long afternoons of Ramadan sewing and making clothes for women in the city. "I have a sort of factory," she jokes.

Day 24 of 30

"I cannot say much about Ramadan, but I feel no need to fast. Would you like tea?" -Ahmed

Day 25 of 30

"During Ramadan its not so different for us because we work just as hard and (for that reason) do not fast. But I cannot answer anymore questions because I will burn my bread." -Awat, tanoor baker

Day 26 of 30

"Ramadan creates a big conversation between all of the Muslim nations. Together, we are all breaking our fast at the same. This creates communication without the differences of our skins or languages." -Dr. Haual Abu-bakir, Professor of Human Sciences

Day 27 of 30

"I've only been working at making this Nasowjy for one month. Its special for Ramadan (and) because I am fasting I cannot work my usual hard jobs. -Yousef

Day 28 of 30

‎"Ramadan is a very holy month. In the world and across all the Muslim countries and including Kurdistan, it makes a different situation for these countries. Together they are fasting, praying, getting up in the night to eat and pray--together. As an artist, this is great inspiration to me." -Ismail Khayat, artist

Day 29 of 30

As this month draws to an end we're reminded of what Ramadan is: "A month full of good and full of GOD's mercy." -Shene

Day 30 of 30

"Ramadan is like a school to teach Humanity lessons for all peoples and fasting is a great way to rejuvenate your body. Ramadan is full of happiness and expecting great events-- it's a month of to be closer for God." -Hiwa

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More about this Photo Story

Ramadan allots 30 days out of the year for followers of Islam to use specifically for prayer, petition, forgiveness, charity, and fasting. The varying depths of personal conviction within this time of corporate worship sent me photographing and interviewing Ramadan participants. I invite you to be introduced to Ramadan with me, as I pursued 30 different faith-stories during this holy month of Forgiveness. All photographs taken in northern Iraq. Copyright Lydia O’Neil Bullock for ZUMA Press.

Learn more about: Lydia O'Neil Bullock

Lydia O'Neil Phillips is a humanitarian photographer from Cincinnati, Ohio.

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