Asalamu alaikum and a warm Ramadan greeting to y’all,
It’s been so long since I’ve written, I am not even certain why I have developed the urge to set down and undertake this blog again. Perhaps it is because, after all of these long years, I have seen an upsurge happening within the ummah, a welcome tide of a truly progressive movement within our community. Finally. Oh, it’s been simmering and bubbling at the edges for years now, the promise of a new voice, a liberal and inclusive Islamic perspective. It’s taken hard work by progressive/liberal/non-traditional muslims who are dedicated to the true values of Islam- inclusion, respect for all, love and kindness- to make the headway for those of us who have silently (and sometimes not so silently) tried to organize egalitarian social and spiritual gatherings, to reach out to brothers and sisters in our community who find little comfort, safety or spirituality in the broader community. For those social justice workers, I am greatful on a daily basis. Without them, what would be the point?
With Ramadan upon us, we have many opportunities to return to seeking the Divine and we have endless ways in which to do this seeking, and hopefully, discovering. We see the community teeming with good will and kindness; donating to those in need here and abroad, volunteering their time at shelters and hospices, reaching out to make their localities better for all. These are the obvious strides we make, as a community, during Ramadan, that hopefully carry on all year. But I feel that it’s the personal connection we make to God at this time that is what sustains us for the rest of the year, through our daily ups and downs that are inevitable. It’s that idea that is central to Islam, that we talk to God and we do so regularly throughout the day and we do so directly. Got a complaint? Take it to Allah. Need to bitch about something or somebody but would rather not broadcast it and be known as a gossiper and slanderer? Unload it on the All Hearing. Don’t worry, S/he totally gets where you are coming from, I promise. And there is no time like Ramadan to lay it all out, to get all the highs and lows of our previous year out on the table. The One knows it’s coming, right? So let it out and keep that dialogue going with Your Beloved, you will feel better and life will make a heck of a lot more sense when you are done, if you ever get done. It need not end, that litany of love and hate and praise and complaint. We just need to talk to God and keep up that seemingly one-sided internal dialogue. Don’t ever let it go, don’t ever give it up.
Many of us aim to create life-long habits this month, good deeds and efforts that we will proceed with regularly throughout the rest of the year, hopefully for our lifetimes. Those of us who are progressive in our values, work to show our children and the younger generations that we can have this open relationship with God and not be bound by conservative or traditional ideals of what being a Muslim looks like, loves like, or feels like. We need to live our liberal values and do so daily. After many years attempting to live amongst the masses, to mold my beliefs with those of the majority (who are a rather conservative lot) I gave up. And it was a positive giving up, it saved me and it saved my faith and it enabled me to teach my son how to love God. Love. Because Love, not fear, is what will sustain your faith through the best of times and the worst of times, and I know this now. I know it in profound ways, through a myriad of life experiences. And this is a shared value amongst the Muslim left, the non traditional lovers and worshippers.
Rumi instructed us that ‘ours is not a caravan of despair’; so this Ramadan, please return. Return to God, if S/he has been missing in your life. Return to those you have left behind and wish to rediscover. Return to yourself if you have become lost. But most of all, turn or return to faith, however that may look to you, however that may fulfill you and nourish you and keep you going. Our deen is a caravan of Love and Light, and it will take all of us working hard to make it shine.
Wishing you all Love and Light, with much more to come…