On Finding God in Perpetual Days and Nights

One day, shortly before Ramadan began, my family’s idle chatter over a weekend lunch broached on the topic of the challenge faced by Muslims fasting while living in Canada’s Northwest territories.

My father thoughtfully recounted two verses of the Quran that made him think of this geographical phenomenon:

. . . If Allah were to make the night perpetual over you to the Day of Judgment, what god is there other than Allah, who can give you enlightenment? Will ye not then hearken? (28 : 71)

. . . If Allah were to make the day perpetual over you to the Day of Judgment, what god is there other than Allah, who can give you a night in which ye can rest? Will ye not then see? (28 : 72) *

It’s not part of the universal human condition to experience endless nights or endless days, blazing midnight suns or brunches by candlelight. The strangeness of places where this is a reality, my father was suggesting, is in itself a sign from God, no different from the way nature and seasons and the delicate balance of the human body’s system are signs from God. “See how it is when the night or day is perpetual? It’s Me who makes it otherwise,” Allah is telling us.

SubhanAllah. Makes you think.

* Translation by Yusuf Ali


On Ramadan 1433 / 2012

I don’t feel that I’m going to say anything blazingly insightful about Ramadan this time around, but I did want to wish a very happy and blessed one to all those who will be observing the holy month.

Plus, the most important thing that could be talked about this Ramadan is already being discussed a great deal: the very heavy and thorny issue of watching The Dark Knight Rises on the night Ramadan begins. I think I’m going to need a lot of time to really ruminate about all the highly worthwhile current rhetoric about a topic of such pressing concern.

I am lying, of course. Truthfully, I cannotfreakingbelieve that people are getting worked up about this.

Anyway, in case you are relatively new to this blog and are jonesing for some incredibly profound Ramadan-related material from me, check out some stuff I wrote last year, in which I

  • Got annoyed by the fuss being made about fasting in the summer. (Which, it seems, is now being paralleled with my annoyance about The Dark Knight Rises issue. Maybe I’m starting a personal Ramadan tradition of sardonic thinking? How unMuslimlike.)
  • Mused about how Ramadan should be a time when one reevaluates their relationship with food and gives it the love and attention it deserves.
  • Shared my experience of trying to complete recitation of the Quran during Ramadan.
  • Proposed the idea of a writerly duaa, an intimate, conversational, and emotional approach to asking from God.

Take care of each other and yourselves, pray earnestly, and have a soul-enriching Ramadan.

On praying to raise hell

I wish someone told me this when I was younger. But it’s never too late, of course:

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” —Nora Ephron

I can’t help but make a parallel duaa for myself, for Nora Ephron has given me the words for what I should ask for this Ramadan:

“I ask, ya Allah that, I cease to be a lady. I pray that I find ways to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I pray that I make that trouble on behalf of all women.”