Reflecting Ramadan

It is like a pool of water ahead on the path; it shimmers with anticipation. It is Ramadan, which begins at sunset tonight according to the Hijri calendar.

My intention is to blog daily during Ramadan, in the quiet space after the morning pre-dawn meal (sihori) and the sunrise prayer (fajr). I also note that my friend Shahed Amanullah will also be blogging during Ramadan over at Beliefnet. His first post, about the intersection of 9-11 and Ramadan this year, is an excellent start:

But this Ramadan has been heralded by images of Osama bin Laden taunting us from his cave and exhorting non-Muslims to accept Islam, obviously unaware that the actions of him and his kind have done more to bring curses down upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad and turn people away from Islam more than anything in Islam's history. It's imagery and words like this, and the strong feelings they evoke in me, that I have to push aside in order to focus on starting this month right.

The terrorism that I read about in the news represents the polar opposite of what Ramadan stands for. Ramadan is about opening yourself up to God's mercy, enduring patience in the face of discomfort and adversity, and providing assistance to those less fortunate. Extremism and terrorism is just the opposite--the ultimate exercise of self-indulgence and inflicting merciless hardship on the innocent.

Indeed. In fact, for the next two years, 9-11 will fall within Ramadan again. It is important for muslims to move beyond 9-11 as a context in which we defend our faith and simply embrace our faith on our own terms. The time for attempting to assuage other Americans' fears about Islam is over; it is time to simply be muslims, and Americans, again. Ramadan this year represents an opportunity for a renewal of our identity as a community like any other in this great nation.

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