Lights in the sky are holes in the floor of heaven

Ramadan Mubarak!
From the Ramadan Cookie Project 2006 photoset, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz

To state the obvious, since everyone is talking and blogging about it these days, Ramadan is here! Has been here for a couple of weeks, actually. How are we nearly halfway through the month already?

I wasn’t fasting on Monday, so I took a slice – actually, two slices – of chocolate fudge cake with me to the office, because we all know that of course chocolate fudge cake totally counts as lunch. Late in the afternoon, when I finally remembered that I wasn’t fasting, I ducked into the kitchen to grab my little styrofoam container of cake. It wasn’t until I had polished off the entire slice that I realized the second slice was missing.

For a split second, I thought I was imagining things, that perhaps there never was a second slice. But then I remembered cutting two slices and deliberating at my kitchen counter at home about how to best place them into the same container. The most amusing part about this whole thing is that the culprit removed slice#2 so carefully and deliberately that it was as if it were never there – no smudges of frosting, no suspicious crumbs.

Days later, I still haven’t figured out who the culprit was. Clearly, someone needs to be stabbed – but one does not discuss stabbing sessions during Ramadan, and, in any case, the whole situation makes me laugh, anyway.

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So, here we go, since we haven’t done this in a while:
Beautiful things: The Ramadan Edition

one. Before Ramadan even began, J texted me about hanging out in San Jose. I warned him that hanging-out sessions in the near future would not be involving food, due to the upcoming Ramadan. His sweet response reminded me why I love that kid so much:

“Es okay, you always fill my tummy with laughs, love, y joy.”

two. On the morning of the very first day of Ramadan, D text-messaged me with, “Eid mubarak!”

I collapsed theatrically into my chair at work, and laughed for a good minute straight.

My co-worker-in-crime turned around curiously. “What’s going on?”

“Eid mubarak!” I announced grandly, then laughed again and tried to think of how to tactfully reply. I texted D back: “Thanks so much, my love! Eid is actually at the very end, when the month is over and we celebrate. The thought is appreciated, though. I love and miss you!”

A minute later, my phone buzzed again: “Forgive my religious ignorance. Ramadan mubarak. Happy fasting.”

I replied: “I love you! And I bet you know more Muslim greetings than I know Hindu ones. We’ll work on me next time I see you.”

three. Driving home from work one evening during the beginning of Ramadan, I thought I spied a kufi on the head of the driver in front of me. I found my suspicions were correct when the little boy in the backseat fidgeted around and turned his head in profile, so that I could clearly see the gold-threaded embroidery winding along his white cotton cap, too. This made me smile, especially because it was close to sunset and I was anxiously watching my clock and the sky for signs of iftar time (the breaking of the fast), and I wondered if they were doing the same.

four. No matter how much I love music, I always try to take a break from it during Ramadan and listen to recitations of the Quran instead. My favorite recitation these days is Surah Layl, as recited by Saad al-Ghamidi. I play it on repeat, listening over and over, trying to memorize the verses. How can you not love this voice? [Translation] My hands-down favorite recitation by al-Ghamidi is Surah Yaseen (chapter 36). I have listened to the same one for years, especially on difficult days, chanting it sometimes under my breath and sometimes loudly until my throat is raw. It never fails to soothe me.

five. The lovely A wrote:

The first time I went to tarawih last week after Isha I turned and there was Yaz smiling at me. I felt so much better all of a sudden.

I am not a very good friend, I admit it. I never answer phone calls, I suck at giving advice (I just don’t know what to say. Also, I am impatient), and sometimes I deliberately tune people out over instant messenger or in person when they start lamenting about their issues and dramas, or otherwise talking too much about themselves. The only sort of advice I can really be counted on is, Okay, let’s get the hell over it already and move on, and that’s because that’s the one I always use on myself. But who knew all I had to do was smile at people? And not just at any people, but at my friends, and that that would be enough to make them feel good and make me feel – having read her post – as if I had done something constructive with my day? [Sidenote to A: I never tune you out, I promise!]

six. One evening last week, I met up with my beautiful halaqa ladies for iftar in San Ramon. [Halaqa = circle of learning/youth group/study circle. We usually meet Sunday mornings.] Dinner consisted of burritos and tacos and chips and salsa at Chipotle – an example of an American Ramadan at its finest. After breaking our fast, we headed out to the parking lot in shifts of 2-4; AF had laid out her raffia-type mats in one or two rows next to her little Volkswagen Golf, and we prayed solo, concrete beneath our feet, sky directly overhead. All the earth is a place of prayer and prostration, indeed. Times like these, I can’t help but smile and remember the Dawud Wharnsby Ali song, All the Crazy Spots. It was lovely.

(Speaking of American Ramadans, you should watch this, if you haven’t already. [I haven’t yet either.])

seven. The lovely A just relayed the following to me over GMail chat:

Towards the end of taraweeh* today, the qari** kept taking long breaks after just two rakahs,*** and one of the aunties said it was because he was drinking green tea. I was like, man, hook it up.

* Taraweeh=nightly prayer during Ramadan, often performed in congregation; composed of either 8 or 20 (depending on how you roll) cycles of standing, bowing, and prostrating
** Qari=one who recites the Quran
*** Rakah=one cycle of prayer

eight. Conversation with Z over GMail chat, just a few days after Ramadan began (emphasis – in italics – is mine):

Z: How’s Ramadan going?
Yasmine: Ramadan is okay
Yasmine: Not really working on any self-betterment yet
Z: Happens when time is in short supply
Z: I guess it’s more what you do than how much
Yasmine: Yeah
Yasmine: But i haven’t been doing anything, really
Z: You could think
Z: I’m sure you have time for that
Z: Like a minute

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Two Three totally rockstar and beautiful weblogs that I’ve been loving lately, and reading regularly (I would recommend you check out the archives on each of these):

The Faith Divide, by Eboo Patel of the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago

Hungry for Ramadan, by Shahed Amanullah, who has previously brought us rockstar websites such as zabihah.com, altmuslim.com, and BrassCrescent.org

CharityFocus weblog: An Incubator of Compassionate Action, by the rockingest rockstars ever

22 thoughts on “Lights in the sky are holes in the floor of heaven

  1. Love all the stories on here yaar! Ramadan is such a different part of the year, it’s not like any other month. And even though it’s supposed to be a serious time of reflection, there’s still humor involved.

    And don’t worry, I know you’d never ignore me, we’re family!

    I’ll keep you posted on any more funny taraweeh happenings in the future, there always seems to be something going on. =)

  2. THIS is what Ramadan has been missing – Yasminay’s Ramadan entries ;-)

    Hope you’re having a beautiful month, rockstar. Make it better, each day, insha’Allah!

  3. Lovely post once again. It wouldn’t be yazoland if it were not. :)

    I am doing my rounds after a while, and was prepared to read a book worth of posts here after all the time I have been gone. Where’s the rest of them?

  4. And you know what? My Ramadan seems so boring after reading your wonderful post.

    Your comment at my blog did make my day though. =)

    And yes, Ramadan mubarak! (Since it’s still early to shout akhtar da mubarakha!)

  5. Good Lord, I agree:

    “Clearly, someone needs to be stabbed”!

    Still reeling in horror at the mysteriously disappearing slice of chocolate fudge cake,
    Baraka

  6. “I never answer phone calls, I suck at giving advice (I just don’t know what to say.” this is so me, too. one day i know it’ll bite me back but for now i’m sighing in contentment that me friends do answer my phone calls and always know what to say…

  7. God woman, update already! I know you’re hoarding posts that you’ve already written but just haven’t published! And you better share that new poem of yours!

  8. “I never answer phone calls, I suck at giving advice (I just don’t know what to say. Also, I am impatient), and sometimes I deliberately tune people out over instant messenger or in person when they start lamenting about their issues and dramas, or otherwise talking too much about themselves. The only sort of advice I can really be counted on is, Okay, let’s get the hell over it already and move on, and that’s because that’s the one I always use on myself. ” I empathise-this is so me.

    Love the blog. Will be back:-)

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