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City of Brass

City of Brass

the paradox of time in Ramadan

One fast down, 29 to go!

Fasting certainly makes a day crawl past. During a fast, every hour is magnified and elongated. This is why the days are long… but suddenly after Iftar, it seems as though there was no time at all elapsed. During the day, we strive to survive the fast, but after the fast ends, brings regret at how we used (and likely wasted) that time. It is a challenge to comply with our usual schedules and routines during a fastm, and yet we also bear the weight of the responsibility to do even more – to engage in additional acts of prayer and piety, especially reading the Qur’an.

Every year, like most Muslims, I resolve to assign to myself a certain fraction of the entire Qur’an to read and complete by the end of Ramadan. I am not yet proficient enough to be able to complete an entire Qur’an, which would require reading an entire juz (chapter) a day. Instead I will tackle a fifth of the Qur’an, six juz total. Setting aside time to read this self-assignment during the fasting hours is often impossible, especially as Ramadan starts and I have not yet even partially acclimated to the reduced sleep and lessened energy. So that leaves the post-Iftaar pre-bedtime hours, which must of course compete with the usual routines of putting children to bed, etc. Since I reserve my mornings for work (when I am at my most alert, rested, and productive), there’s simply no other choice. While I do manage to read at least some of the Qur’an every day, there are days where I do not meet my quota and start to fall behind. Every day that I do not read enough Qur’an, is a precious day lost. This is why the month is short – there is only a fixed amount of time for we as muslims to achieve our spiritual goals, during this sacred window.

The irony is that the rest of the year, we are not fasting, and so the level of increased piety that we ask of ourselves during ramadan would certainly be more sustainable the other 11 months of the year, months that aren’t short at all. But this is our nature, the very nature we seek to control and repudiate by fasting itself.

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