City of Brass

City of Brass

Ramadan Pearls roundup

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Here is a link to all the posts in the Ramadan Pearls series I did during Ramadan:

  1. Criterion
  2. Non-existence
  3. Mystery
  4. Angels
  5. Objective
  6. Expectant
  7. Reed
  8. Veils
  9. Lend
  10. Good

I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom as much as I did :) Inshallah I’ll try to do another set of 10 next year.




Eid Mubarak!

posted by Aziz Poonawalla


By the Fatimid calendar, today is Eid al Fitr, 1436!

I’ve explained my position on the calendar vs. moonsighting debate in detail – and this year there is a lot more divergence on the date than usual. Crescentwatch nicely summarizes:

Crescentwatch did not receive any confirmed reports of the new crescent moon (hilal) being sighted anywhere in the world via naked-eye on the evening of Thursday, July 16th. We received numerous negative reports from experienced moon-sighters with clear skies around the world including Australia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Argentina, Panama, Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad, Colombia, Florida, Texas, and across the U.S. and Canada.


(Note: We are aware of several extraordinary positive reports that emerged late from multiple California locations. We have taken significant time to contact and speak with many of the claimants at length. While we recognize the sincerity of many of the claims, the actual descriptions and details of the reports do not provide the requisite certainty we require at this time to declare the momentous occasion of Eid.)

Ahh, California! :) That’s the price we as an Ummah pay for the Gates of Ijtihad being open, I guess. Whether you are celebrating Eid al Fitr today or tomorrow, the sentiment is universal. So – whether its on time, in advance, or belated – Eid Mubarak!


UPDATE: the California moonsighting confusion explained:

My favorite Eid quote is by Nelson Mandela – and had actually nothing to do with Eid, but I find it resonant regardless:

“There is nothing like returning to a place unchanged to find the ways you yourself have changed.”

Off to masjid for Fajr. And then, LUNCH.


The Final Fast

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

These are the very last days of Ramadan, whether you go by moonsighting or calculations (aside, here’s my take on the moonsighting debate). Eid will be either on Friday or Saturday depending on how you reckon; for me, today marks the final fast. The thoughts of fasting Muslims are bidirectional – anticipating all the energy we will regain once the final fast completes, and looking back to assess our Ramadan performance.

Looking backwards, many people sometimes feel that they didn’t get what they expected out of Ramadan. There is spiritual enlightenment to be had, of course – but that isn’t the point. The piety is the process, when it comes to ibadat. Many people feel a kind of ennui or disillusionment by this stage, as if they are “failures” in Ramadan. But that is an unfair burden of expectation to place on yourself – you are better at Ramadan than you think you are:


Ramadan is not an achievement to be unlocked. What we need to remember is that Ramadan is an opportunity to simplify, to focus and to immerse ourselves in the rituals of praying or reciting Quran. It is a form of mindfulness, or meditation — actions that prepare ourselves for the spiritual insight and enlightenment, but not in and of itself that insight and enlightenment.
So, this Ramadan, don’t judge yourself by what you didn’t do or what you didn’t feel. As Ramadan draws to a close, allow yourself to embrace what you did feel and to value what you did do. Next Ramadan, do more. Don’t expect it to mean something. Just submit to it and do as much as you can, and don’t worry about what other people think.

As for looking forwards, the Ramadan endgame is really a transitional period between a very focused period of motivation and our baseline lives, which sadly contain no Nights of Power to amplify our ibadat:


I’ve no doubt that if I were not fasting, I’d be able to read a lot more Qur’an. The challenge then, is why don’t I do exactly that after Ramadan ends? The goal should be to take the habits we are cultivating during Ramadan and apply them the rest of the year. I am resolved to try, and am aware of my failure in this regard in past years.

There’s that word again, failure :) I’m not immune to that ennui, and that ennui doesn’t end on Eid. I need to take my own advice.

I have argued that Ramadan is the month of Jihad – in a sense, though, the jihad really begins after the Final Fast.


Ramadan Pearls 10 – good

posted by Aziz Poonawalla


For to fast is to good unto
your selves – if you but knew it.

(translation, Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an)


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