Qibla locator mashup with Google Maps

This is a beautiful piece of work - the online Qibla Locator, developed by Ibn Mas'ud:

(click to visit the site). He describes the project and provides a bug tracking history on his blog:

I’ve been working on a little project utilizing the google maps api to make a Qibla direction locator. It works almost exactly like google maps except that it displays an overlay pointing towards the Qibla. The direction in degrees from North is also given at the bottom of the page. Another one of the nice features is a map-in-map view much like pic-in-pic view found on most new TV sets. As this is pretty much a work in progress, I’m sure you’ll notice many bugs. Please do let me know.

This is a wonderful example of using technology in service of faith. Of course, it should be noted that the tool only works on the surface of the planet earth. If you are in orbit, it might get more complicated. And if you are on another planet entirely, then Qibla might become a symbolic direction rather than a literal one:


Traditionalism: Yahya Birt responds

I am honored that Yahya bhi Birt left a comment in response to my earlier post, where I disputed his definition of traditionalism. The full text of the comment is as follows:

A commitment to the scholastic interpretive legacy of Islam, or Traditionalism, equals an principled and rigorous engagement with the establishment of the proof-texts (nusus), the debate over the principles by which the authenticity of proof-texts are established, the debate about interpretive methods (usul al-fiqh) and the derivation of rulings (furu) which are various as a result. This results of this engagement are not absolutely fixed, they are various, and there is a sense in which a process of refinement goes on (because debates develop as more people contribute to them over time and ponder on previous interventions). Secondly there is process of self-correction which as I mentioned in the original article which relies on the mechanism of "moral and intellectual peer review".

But note all this is defining "traditionalism" not "tradition" itself, and the two should not be confused. Tradition is the totality of the canonical proof-texts of the religion.

wa s-salam Yahya Birt

I am sympathetic to this clarification, and agree with Yahya bhai that the subset of who is qualified to engage in this process is highly limited.

What is more, there is a modern component to the term Traditionalism as used in intra-Sunni religious discourse in the West, as he explains at his original post (which I had not read, I had only requoted from Ali Eteraz):

Outside of its more general and normative sense, what is more often referred to in the West today as traditionalism is a particular and recent manifestation. Around the beginning of the nineties, a set of scholars in the West attempted to defend traditional Islam against the polemics of the political Islamic movements and the Salafis. For a young generation in Britain and North America, traditional Islam was in danger of losing serious ground. It was accused of being either backward, hidebound or even unorthodox and heretical. This group of scholars restored the conviction of many in this generation in the intellectual validity of traditional Islam and initiated them in the wellsprings of its scholastic and mystical traditions.

The article as a whole is a fascinating read, and I have not done it proper justice yet. Coming from the Shi'a (and specifically, the Ismaili) perspective, I am somewhat of an outsider to the debate, but I think that on the broad issue of the value of tradition (and the importance of a genuine religious authority to police it) we are on very much the same page.

inflection point

Regardless of your reckoning, Ramadan is about halfway over. This means that we are now leaving, not entering Ramadan - that the divine window is closing, not opening wider. The believer must ask themselves, how have they spent Ramadan thus far? Every hour ahead is a reflection of an hour that went before, so if the inflection point is a mirror then let us seek to improve what is reflected therein.

I've not completed the three siparas of the Qur'an I wanted to finish by now - I assumed that I'd finish them and then begin another three at the same pace. I also have not succeeded in memorizing the surahs on Juz Amma up to La Uqsemo. These were my personal benchmarks for achievement this Ramadan, and if I am to complete them, I must redouble my efforts.

Muslim, wake up! I am trying.


"Muslims" Against Sharia

Muslims Against Sharia claims to be a group of muslims who believe,

- "We, as Muslims, find it abhorrent that Islam is used to murder millions of innocent people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike."
- "Twenty-first century Muslims have two options: we can continue the barbaric policies of the seventh century […], or we can reform Islam to keep our rich cultural heritage and to cleanse our religion from the reviled relics of the past."

All well and good. What exactly are their prescriptions accordingly? Looking at their manifesto, we see these action items:

Inconsistencies in the Koran
: they wrongly assert that the qur'an contains many passages that "call for Islamic domination and incite violence against non-Muslims." They also want to "change" that.

The Koran & the Bible: They claim that the Bible and the Torah are more pure and that the Qur'an is a corrupted text, stating baldly (and falsely on both counts) that "While neither Testament calls for mass murder of unbelievers, the Koran does."

Accepting responsibilities: This is probably the most offensive of all - they say that "we (sic) must acknowledge evils done by Muslims in the name of Islam and accept responsibility for those evils." Why should any muslim accept even one tiny iota of responsibility for evil done in the name of the faith by twisted extremists? They follow that with another call to censoring "evil passages" in the Qur'an so that "future generations of Muslims will not be confused by conflicting messages". How benevolent.

and it goes on and on. It boggles the mind that any muslim would capitulate so utterly to the Osama bin Ladens of the world thus. The answer to extremism is to expose the false fatwas and selective tajweed for what they are, not accord the extremists' warped interpretations the status of orthodoxy and try to excise them.

One more thing. The so-called muslims against Sharia aren't actually muslim at all. Among the blog team there is Pamela Geller (of the ultrarightwing blog Atlas Shrugs). If there are any true muslims at MAS who have some pride in their faith, then why do they work alongside someone who explicitly called for Islam to be banned?

With "allies" such as Pamela on board, it's painfully obvious to all but the most deluded, naive fools that the true agenda of MAS is to attack the principles of Islam from within. These people are far worse than the Irshad Manji/Hirsi Ali types who make earnest calls for "reform", because the latter are at least honest about what they are and what they seek.


Giuliani campaign libels muslim americans

Rep Peter King is an advisor to Rudy Giuliani and also the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. Here is an interview he did with The Politico:

In this interview he makes the explicit claim that there are "too many mosques in this country." As The Politico notes,

Earlier, King had said in an interview with radio and television host Sean Hannity that 85 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by "extremist leadership,"

When asked to clarify his comment to The Politico,

King did not revise his answer, saying “I think there has been a lack of full cooperation from too many people in the Muslim community.”

And of course claimed that the Politico took him "out of context" (which is why the full video interview was subsequently released. Judge for yourself.)

You know, it's fine if King thinks there are too many mosques in the US, actually. He doesn't have to like Islam, or muslims. It makes him a jafi, to be sure, but it's not any kind of insult to the muslim-American community. What is a genuine insult however is his assertion that muslim leaders have not been cooperative, or that the vast majority of mosques in the US are extremist.

This is analogous to the "muslims do not condemn" libel, which is easily refuted with even a cursory inquiry, yet still persists in the jafi worldview as an item of sacred dogma. The idea that the overwhelming majority of muslims the US are hostile and extremist flies in the face of common sense, let alone simple empirical reality. However, the Giuliani campaign clearly sees this as an axiomatic statement.


Shehrullah-El-Moazzam (Ramadhan) - Part II

(This guest post is by my close friend Taha Raja, a businessman in Houston, Texas. Before I moved to Wisconsin this summer, Taha and I attended the same masjid in Katy, TX as part of the Houston Dawoodi Bohra community. This is a sequel of sorts to Part I, from last year.)

The first ten days of Shehrullah-El-Moazzam (Ramadhan) have now past and we are on the second set of ten days. Last year, I posted a story when I had just left my position at Symantec and was seeking for a new business. Since then I have bought a new business, went for Haj and made several changes in my life. Here we are a year later and I feel revitalized and energized more than ever before.

This year Ramadhan has started with a certain sense of change in the air. My life has taken a complete turn and I feel the ship has finally started to sail in the direction I want. There is a sense of inner peace and satisfaction and a renewal of spiritual recogniztion that there is more than the daily rat race that we all get caught up in.

This year the Anjuman-E-Shujaee of Houston has created many improvements to the celebrations for its members. To begin with, a new Mawaid (Jamat Khana) facilities were built on the adjacent land recently acquired. This Mawaid has provided badly needed space for the fast growing Jamaat. In addition, due to Daylight Savings Time, we are taking advantage of the extended evening hours to do some additional events prior to Maghrib Namaaz. Let me share with you a typical Houston Sheruallah day for me.

The day begins with Sehri at around 5AM. Usually some light snack with juice water and hot tea. After my sehri, I usually rest for another 30 min before Fajr Namaaz. After namaaz, its time to go to the business. My business is located around 18 miles in heavy traffic. During Ramadhan, I take advantage of this rush hour traffic by playing Quraan MP3 files of Juz Amma for memorization. It is my goal to memorize from Surat Al-Nas to Surat Al-Balad by end of Ramadhan, Inshallah.

At around 4:30PM, I start heading back home to prepare and go to Masjid for Maghrib Namaaz. Again the Quraan MP3 helps me traverse the traffic and helps the memorization of the Surats. After reaching home, I usually get ready quickly and head back out to the Masjid. My family has already left for Masjid earlier since the kids go there for further Quraan recitation and practice.

When you enter the Masjid complex, you are greeted by volunteers who kindly give you your Iftari Packet. This packet consists of some cookies and Khajoor (dates). As you enter the masjid and receive the iftari packets, you hear the serene sound of Tartil recitation of Quraan by experts from Al-Jamea-Tus-Saifiya! This is a pleasant sound as all the worldly headaches of work, traffic, and other hassels melt away. You truly feel at peace! Its a mediatative expereince for me.

The Quraan recitiation is followed by a short bayaan (sermon) by AamilSaheb (head priest). Usually on a practical topics of Ramadhan and other General Ale-Mohammed Ilm (Knowledge). After this, there is a short Matam Session in rememberence of Imam Husain (AS). By this time Maghrib is here. Azaan is recited by someone from the general public who has given his name in consideration for giving Azaan once this month. Competion is heavy for this sharaf (honor). As the Azaan is recited, silence around the masjid and the anticipation of Maghrib Namaz and Iftari of a long day of Rozu (fasting) is at hand.

After Namaaz, a short Dua asking Allah for forgiveness (Alahuma Haza Shere Ramadhan - Dua that Aziz has talked about in the earlier posts) is recited. Everyone perks up as the Namak (salt) is passed around to break the fast along with the dates given earlier.

Everyone hussels and bussles to eat and drink the cookies, tea and/or milk. People have short converasations as you get a chance to truly be with friends and family reminiscing the day and taking the barakaat of Ramadhan. After short break, Sunat and Ishaa Namaaz are recited.

The Masjid is energized and packed to the gills by the end of Maghrib Namaz. Almost 800 people attend on a daily basis. This is a great festival and time to do ibadaat. Men, Women and Children from all backgrounds come together to do ibadaat under the same roof. It is a unique and joyful experience.

After Ishaa Namaaz, the Masjid empties out to go to the new Mawaid. Here the sumptuous evening meal is being served in Thaals. The barakaat of eating together with friends and family during ramadhan is endless. It is a blessing that I cannot begin to describe. We all eat with modesty and humilty as we accept this gift of Aqa Mola Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) and the joy of ending one more day of Sherullah under the saya (roof) of Ale Mohammed and amongst friends and family. This is where the rat race ends! This is what we enjoy and this at the end of day is the meaning of barakaat!

May Allah bless us every day to celebrate and do Shukur of what we have received and what we are about to get from his boudless treasures. May Allah bless us all who take advantage of His bounties during this month of Ramadhan. May Allah Ta'ala bless us all during this month and may He provide us the guidance and wisdom to make choices that allow us to show Him that we are worthy of His bessings.



Nihari for sehri, and a venti pumpkin spice latte for iftaar.


Ali Eteraz is writing a three part series of posts, entitled Ramadan Reconciliation, on his renewed embrace of Traditionalism. The key background to his essay is this huge pan-Islamosphere debate about Traditionalism that took place over a year ago. Now, as an orthodox Shi'a of the Dawoodi Bohra sect I have loyalties to both Ibn Rushd and Ghazali, with a healthy indebtedness to Ibn Sina as well, so in the context of that debate I wasn't really able to align myself firmly on one side or the other. I think that the definition of Traditionalism by Yahya Birt that Ali quotes, namely

"Traditionalism, used in its normative sense, refers to that approach which allows for the authentic perpetuation and embodiment of the Islamic tradition and that contains a collective system of ongoing self-correction and refinement"

is not descriptive of what I perceive Tradition to be. The implication of "self-correction" and "refinement" is that there is some inadequacy in the Islamic tradition. If we equate Tradition with Deen, then this runs afoul of the Qur'an,

"This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion."

(5:3, revealed upon the plain of Ghadir e Khum).

So, if Tradition is not Deen, then what is it? This is a key question during Ramadan, in which the muslim seeks to amplify his observance and increase his piety. There are numerous ways in which one might exert themselves during Ramadan; increased recitation and memorization of the Qur'an, for example. Other actions include tarawih prayer (primarily Sunnis only), increased Zakat (alms and charity), and even atekaaf (spiritual retreat). Tradition plays a fundamental role in deciding when Ramadan begins, when it ends, and when major events like Laylatul Qadr occur within.

In all of these things, there is enormous variation between muslims. That diversity of opinion is not really usbject to refinement or correction; for the most part, each musim embraces their choice on the basis of their own tradition. Communities, from entire sects to individual congregations, standardize on one set of practices, and these are then largely immutable. In case my position on this is not clear, let me be explicit and say that I think this is a good thing; were Ramadan observance to be ever-shifting based on continual refinement and "correction", it would not be the source of stability and renewal that it now represents. Tradition to me means something fixed, anchored in belief but also in custom, and it is to that familiar embrace we return each year, to support us as we seek to improve ourselves.


Gemar Chasima Tova

The Abrahamic Convergence continues - Yom Kippur is upon us. Naftali explains that the 9th of the month is the day to eat plentifully so that the mandatory fast upon the 10th goes smoothly, as commanded in the Torah. So, in a sense, today is a day-long sehri for our Jewish friends :)

The traditional greeting above means, "May your inscription for good in the book of life be therein sealed completely." So it shall be written, inshallah.


The word shukr means "thankfulness". One of the obligations upon the believer is to give thanks for Allah's bounty, and in Ramadan even as we distance ourselves from our material needs during the day we re-embrace them at night with a renewed sense of appreciation. The simple act of sittig with your family and eating a meal takes on added significance, because for 11 months of the year we take it for granted.

Shukr extends beyond the rhythm of our own fasting cycle and family circle, however. As we muslims in the West go about our Ramadan routine, we still take for granted certain things - like the very freedoms in the West that permit us our free expression of faith and religious observances (and the non-inconsequential accomodation of same by our non-muslim friends and co-workers). Contrast the relative comfort and security of our Western Ramadan with an iftar in Baghdad, via Leila Fadel:

We eat quietly and on the local station Sharqiya, Mat al Hakou, (someone is dead) plays. The title of the special Ramadan series is a play on words. The Arabic word Al Hakoumat means government. The show breaks the word a part, Al Hakou Mat or Mat al Hakou, someone is dead. The edgy political satire is shot outside Iraq to safeguard the comedians' lives. They sing about everyone fleeing Iraq, "the only ones left are the government and parliament." As we finished soup and moved on to the main meal, a woman in a sparkly blue dress did stand up comedy.

"I had an argument with an American woman," the woman said, " She told me look at us, we are free. I can stand in the middle of Washington D.C. and curse the President of America."

The woman in blue rebutted the comment. Iraq is free, she insisted.

"I can stand in the middle of Baghdad and," she paused. " uh. Curse the President of America."

The table bust into laughter. No one openly criticizes the Shiite militias or Sunni extremists that control their neighborhoods. No one openly speaks about their political allegiances less there be someone in ear shot who will kill them for their beliefs.

As we go about our routine Ramadan, let us also do shukr that our fate has placed us, and our loved ones, here in the West amid safety and security, so that we can focus our minds upon piety. Let us take full advantage of that safety by redoubling our commitments to amal (action) and dua (prayer). And let's spare some of those duas for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere else in the world where muslims do not live free.


beyond fasting

It's well into Ramadan now and by now most of us have acclimated to the fast. The body adapts, so that the afternoon isn't a complete write-off in which we amble about like the walking dead, but instead are actually able to get some work done (distractions like blogging aside). The low-grade rumble of hunger remains omnipresent, no matter how much you stuff yourself at sehri; now to save on precious sleep we are actually eating a bit less in the predawn. The hunger comes; we accept it now and bear it without too much additional thought.

Now is the time to look beyond the fast. While the fast gets all the attention from the outside, inwardly it is the Qur'an that is the central axis of Ramadan. The most basic aspect of Ramadan piety is to read the Qur'an daily, for the religious benefit of doing so is amplified during this month. Many people set goals for how much of the Qur'an they intend to complete in this time; those with lesser skill (such as myself) might aim to finish a few chapters (juz). Completing an entire juz requires reading at least 5 pages a day or so, which in my case takes me about 15 minutes (I am quite slow). Others with more skill can even finish the entire Qur'an (one khatam), which means they read an entire juz every single day. This is a feat to be respected. It must be noted that the Qur'an is written in an archaic Arabic script, and reads like poetry, with its own internal structure. The art of recitation is called tarteel, and has very specific rules. The greatest qaris (reciters) of the Qur'an, such as Shaikh Mahmood Al Husary and Husain Saifuddin, are masters of tarteel and their recitation of the Qur'an fills my home in Ramadan (in convenient mp3 audio).

But beyond recitation of the Qur'an comes the even more obligatory function, that of memorization. Those who have memorized the entire Qur'an (hafiz al-Qur'an) often take years of dedicated study to do so. However, the 30th juz (in which most of the smaller surats reside) is one that can be readily memorized, with practice. These are the same surats often used in daily prayer so most muslims have a fraction of this juz committed to memory to begin with. The typical memorization routine begins backwards, from Surah al-Nass and then proceeds backwards towards Surah al Balad and beyond to the very end (beginning) of the juz. There are numerous publications, CDs, and online resources to assist the muslim who desires to hifz in this manner.

All of this represents a pace of commitment that is difficult to maintain during the entire year. But Ramadan is a time of renewal, and thus an opportunity, to return to basics.


Ramadan roundup

The first few days of Ramadan are notable for their tell-tale signature of activity: a huge spike leading up to and including the first fast, followed by a immediate downturn that lasts a few days as everyone adjusts to the physical demands of the fast. It's only the 3rd or 4th day (depending on how you count) and we are firmly in the initial doldrums.

That said, there's a lot of Ramadan blogging going on. Ali Eteraz bemoans the abuse of language that attends any and all discourse of Islam and muslims in the post-9-11 world; it's notable that he's been guest blogging at Jewcy.com, one of the largest Jewish blogs. Ali also quotes an essay at the MidEast Monitor that tries to rebut the notion that Iran poses a threat beyond its regional ambitions; however at 'Aqoul there's yet more evidence that the drumbeat for war is building.

Focusing inwards, Shahed talks about the initial fast doldrums at Beliefnet, while sepoy reminisces about childhood Ramadan in Pakistan:

In Ramadan, Lahore lit up like one of those trick candles. Bright and shimmery. The usual rhythms of the city reversed themselves. Streets became navigable. Cranky butchers threw in an extra chop. Aunties bargained but with lips muttering silent prayers. There was less noise. More genialness. The blast of the anti-aircraft guns to signal the breaking of the fast. The mounds and mounds of dates. The fried foods and fresh fruits piled on the same table. The 7Up in Milk cold drink. The pakoras. The uncle sneaking a cigarette smoke behind the tree. The unexplained weight gain on certain people. The never-ending taraveeh. Qur’an on a loop on the telly. The fetishization of color. And an ever-growing sense of invincibility in my 14 year old self.

I don’t know about spiritual blessings but Ramadan was solely a time for me to flex my muscles. I could fast - exalted in the complete mastery over my own flesh - all day, and still play a game of cricket or squash, run countless errands, and bike to school and back. All this in the oppressive heat and humidity of July and August. Tough, doesn’t even begin to describe me.

Look Ma, no food.

Finally, it's worth noting some advice to journalists about how not to cover Ramadan, by Andrea Useem:

The point is that journalists who call up a mosque asking for sources on Ramadan are likely to interviewing the top one-percent most religious Muslims. This gives people the false impression that Muslims are extremely religious. And it’s a short jump, of course, from "extremely religious" to "fanatical."

The Washington Post manages to take Andrea's advice in a well-written story about the way in which the muslim community has been spurred to do more acts of charity towards non-muslims - fulfilling both a spiritual mandate to do good works during Ramadan, as well as serving the need to demonstrate integration into mainstream American life:

Key edicts of Ramadan, which began yesterday at sunset, are to fast and promote good conduct. The devil is said to be shackled, making it easier than during the rest of the year to perform good deeds and give charity.

Although some Muslims have always had a broad interpretation of these tenets, there has been a shift in recent years to look beyond the Muslim community for where one gives. This is the result both of a more mature Muslim American social service infrastructure and of a drive to counter anti-Muslim rhetoric since 2001, experts say.

"For decades, Muslims were internally focused, and I think September 11th accelerated the natural process of becoming more externally focused," said Ihsan Bagby, author of several studies of Muslim worship trends in the United States. "It's not like the impulse to do good is some new idea in Islam; concern for the poor, the weak is throughout the Koran. It's just that Muslims in this country hadn't implemented it very well. Now a wave is starting to form."

As another muslim quoted in the article puts it, "It seems like Muslims are coming out into the open more now, seeing ourselves as a force -- like we can make things happen if we get behind a cause." And in a very real sense, this is what Ramadan is about; an impetus to improvement, spiritual and physical, self and community. The reality of human nature is that such intensity is difficult to maintain 12 months out of the year, but at least during this one month we can strive to attain the ideal, a striving made all the more intense and sincere in the knowledge that the time is limited to do so.


Ramadan to all

Today is generally considered the first of Ramadan by most muslims, based on either moonsighting from the Middle East. I've been fasting since yesterday, however, because my community adheres to the Fatimid lunar calendar. There are actually ten different methods that muslims use to calculate the start of Ramadan - via moonsighting.com, they are:

  1. Actual Sighting judged by Qadi, or Review Panel. (e.g., Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Oman, Morocco, Trinidad)

  2. Moon born & moonset after sunset in Makkah. (e.g., S. Arabia, sometimes deviates for Ramadan, Shawwal, and Dhul-Hijjah)

  3. Follow Saudi Arabia. (e.g., Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Yemen, Turkey)

  4. Moon Born & moon sets at least 5 minutes after sunset. (e.g., Egypt)

  5. News from neighbor countries. (e.g., New Zealand gets from Australia, and Suriname gets from Guyana)

  6. Follow first Muslim country that announces it. (e.g., Some Caribbean Islands)

  7. Criteria of age, or altitude, or sunset-moonset lag. (e.g., Algeria, and Tunisia)

  8. Age > 8 hours, altitude > 2°, elongation > 3°. (e.g., Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia)

  9. Pre-calculated calendar. (Bohra, Ismaiili, and Ahmadiyyah [Qadiani] community in the world)

  10. No specific criterion! Decision varies year by year. (e.g., Nigeria)

This complexity in method worldwide carries over to the Western muslim community, of course, as muslim immigrants initially tend to adheres to the tradition of their homelands. But there is intense cross-fertilization between muslims in the West - something that occurs nowhere else. Ultimately it boils down to a personal judgement as to which method to use - who said the gates of ijtihad were closed?

Incidentally, it is also Rosh Hashana, so L'Shana Tovah! Another example of an Abrahamic convergence.


first sehri

I've been awake since 3:45am. I intended to wake at 4:15 but the baby decided otherwise. The proscribed time for sehri (the pre-dawn meal) ends at 5:20 am, so I had plenty of time to start establishing my new morning routine. (more on timings in a later post).

The first sehri is always a bit random for me, as I find it very difficult to plan it out in advance. It's the mild state of emergency that comes with waking up super early and knowing that this is your only chance to eat for the next 12+ hours that inspires me :)

Over the years though, I've developed a few rules for sehri:

  • Protein. Eating at least one item rich in protein will help keep your energy level from sagging too much as the day progresses. I usually go for eggs, or leftovers from dinner the night before. The ideal dish in this regard is nihari; I'm going to snag a few weeks' supply this weekend while visiting my parents in Chicago.

  • Cereal. I always eat a bowl of cereal. This is my default breakfast anyway and if you choose the right one can provide a decent nutritional foundation for the day.

  • Juice or fruit. Some kind of citrus supplement is critical to round out the carbs from cereal. A single glass of juice or a piece of fruit will suffice.

  • Vitamins. A standard multi-vitamin is all you need; in honesty I should probably take one year-round but I make the extra effort in Ramadan as the immune system does get a bit suppressed.

  • Medications. Remember that this is your only chance to take anything you need until sunset. If you've got a medical condition that requires more often dose then you probably shouldn't be fasting anyway. I also include things like Advil or Aleve in this; I tend to have headaches the first few days from caffeine withdrawal and lack of sleep, so a pre-emptive Aleve really can help. I also have been using Claritin and Sudafed since Ramadan has been in wintertime and I get quite stuffed up from allergies.

  • A big glass of water. You're going to get dehydrated, so this is just common sense.

For the record, for my first sehri I had some homemade tacos using some leftover taco beef, tortillas, and a can of enchilada sauce. I then went for a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, a glass of orange juice, my vitamins and allergy stuff, and a glass of water. I would have added a nectarine but the ones I bought haven't ripened yet.

I suppose this post was more about the practice of Ramadan and mechanics of fasting than it was about any spiritual significance. My first week will probably be like this, where I am very focused on method; after a while I will settle into my new orutine and then my mind will be freer to reflect on the meaning of what Ramadan is about. This entire month is a journey, and it starts with tying your shoes. Or in the case of sehri, setting your alarm.


Ramadan 1428H

Mubarak to all on the holy month of Shehrullah il Moazzam. Please remember me and my family in your precious dua during Ramadan.

Shi'a Pundit returns

Shi'a Pundit blog has emerged from hiatus to respond in defense of Shi'a belief against a lengthy polemic by Iraqi Konfused Kid.

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.


muslims are cockroaches

muslims are cockroaches according to Columbus Dispatch

This cartoon by Michael Ramirez ran in the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch on Tuesday, September 4th 2007. The Dispatch printed an outraged letter to the editor about the cartoon today. The artist won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for editorial cartoons. However, his cartoons have a history of being offensive without the requisite editorial clarity; a previous cartoon he drew of a jew and muslim praying to the word Hate would have been a good one, but came across as being anti-Semitic the way it was drawn. If the artists's message is obscured by his own art, then the fault lies with the artist, not the audience. If there's a rational editorial comment to be made about his latest cartoon, it's not readily apparent to me.

via C&L