City of Brass

Ramadan has begun! We know, because of the sightings of statements by politicians in social media. Let’s review, and grade:

President Obama:

Note, this is a twitter link to the Full statement at It’s an eloquent and respectful statement, and includes a clear shot at Trump. However, while I am sure that the allusion to refugees is sincere, it is burdened with the weight of Obama’s foreign policy, which is forever tainted by the drone war in Pakistan & Afghanistan, failure to close Gitmo, the support of the Yemen offensive, and a general failure of opportunity with regards to the Arab Spring (see: everything written by Shadi Hamid). The shot at Trump is red meat for Muslims, which shouldn’t distract us (as red meat is meant to do) from a critical stance. Grade: B.

Hillary Clinton:

Hillary’s tweet is fairly innocuous and reasonable. I appreciate that she wrote the tweet herself. Like Obama’s tweet back in 2013 it doesn’t really say much beyond the bland appeal to family and happy thoughts, but that’s a constraint imposed by Twitter. For anyone like myself who remembers Hillary’s position on the Dubai Ports World imbroglio (versus President Carter), it is hard to view Hillary’s outreach to Muslims with a non-cynical eye. Hilariously, the tweet was dissected by Islamophobes as implying that Hillary may have converted to Islam, because of the use of “We”. For the benefit of those on the right with Sharia-paranoia and who lack an understanding of grammar, let’s point out that Ramadan is an event in time, therefore all human beings regardless of religion are literally in Ramadan, right now. There are no exceptions, unless you have a TARDIS. Grade: B.

Since it clearly needs to be said explicitly, No, Hillary Clinton is not a Muslim. Donald Trump, however…

Bernie Sanders:

Bernie didn’t have anything Ramadan-specific, but instead posted this video about ending religious bigotry and making a call for “living a moral life” where ideals of justice should (ahem) trump those of capitalism and greed. It’s a great video and message. Not exactly a Ramadan message per se, but the timing clearly meant it to be Ramadan-related. Bernie has been doing well organically with Muslims, so he doesn’t need to pander. His video is making a broader outreach to people of faith as a whole, and in that regard I like the way he didn’t focus it solely on Muslims but targeted it to all faith communities. Grade: A.

Donald Trump:

He hasn’t said anything about Ramadan, but did spare a moment to tweet something nice about Muhammad Ali. And you know what? I think it’s probably the most sincere thing he’s tweeted yet (Bernie disagrees). Trump and Ali had a generally positive history. Whether Trump understands that Ali was Muslim or not is irrelevant; the fact that Ali had a strong opinion on Trump’s Muslim ban is also irrelevant. For Trump, saying something nice takes serious effort, and there’s literally zero political constituency that Trump could possibly be pandering to by saying it. Grade: A.

It’s a sign of our political relevance that Ramadan does elicit a response by politicians, even if indirect. However, the passing of Muhammad Ali gives context to this political outreach. Ali was determined to not be the “white man’s negro” and he was fearless in refusing to play that game – for example, with regards to serving in Vietnam. By refusing to fight, he epitomized jihad. We must take inspiration from Ali and resolve not to be the “imperialist’s Muslim.” Let this Ramadan, embedded in the politics of the day, refresh our resolve to put our Deen first and Dunya second, inshallah!

Ramadan mubarak to all!


As of 8:03 PM on June 4th, 2016, by the Fatimi Hijri Calendar – it is sunset on 29th Shaban 1437, so therefore Ramadan has begun. Mubarak!

Once again, it is time to tweet the Qur’an! here are the guidelines, via Hussein Rashid, (@islamoyankee) the perennial organizer and founder of this wonderful initiative:

  1. Anyone is welcome. You do not have to be Muslim.
  2. The point is to provide greater access to the Qur’an, so please tweet in English, regardless of the language you read in. Multiple language tweets are welcome.
  3. You should tweet verses that appeal to you each night, not the entire juz’. Some of you may wish to do the whole juz’, but the idea is that we find comfort in the word of God, and we approach it and understand differently every time we come to it. Each night, there are certain verses that will have more power/resonance. Simply tweet those.
  4. Include chapter and verse numbers using “Arabic” numerals, eg. 1:1, 33:72, etc.
  5. Some verses may be too long for 140 characters. Split the tweet. Summarize. As you will, but make sure you make it clear what you are doing, and include the verse number.
  6. You should feel free to offer commentary on why you chose that verse. If you know some tafsir, please include as well, if relevant.
  7. Tags: please include #ttQuran.
  8. You do not need to commit to reading/Tweeting every night. However, when you do Tweet, please make sure you are on the same juz as everyone else.

In my own tweets, I personally like to include a link to the relevant verse at, which has a very convenient URL system – for example, to link to verse 6 of surah 109, simply link to:


As Ramadan approaches, few Muslims will genuinely welcome it. The vast majority of practicing Muslims view Ramadan’s impending arrival solely through the lens of fasting, and the logistics thereof. What will I eat for suhur? How will I stay awake at work? How will I focus? Will I have enough energy to get Things Done? Can I beat traffic to get to the mosque for iftar? How much sleep will I get? What time should I wake up? Do I have time to go back to sleep after suhur? What do I do about my workout? and so on. This is all perfectly natural and doesn’t detract from the spirituality of Ramadan; if anything it is part of the ibadat in a sense, because it boils down to one question: how do I enable my fasting?

That mental battle is tiring, though, and it sucks to be sapped of enthusiasm for Ramadan’s reflective nature because of the stress about how fasting will impact our lives. Which is why I like to read about Ramadan, especially the things I’ve written during Ramadans past, when I’d already surmounted the initial logistical obstacle and was closer to the spiritual communion aspect. Here’s a roundup of links from this blog that is useful to me for this purpose, and I hope they are equally useful to others. I’d love to see similar roundups from other Muslim bloggers too, and I’ll link to them accordingly.

Well, that turned out to be longer than I expected! I am grateful to all my guest bloggers over the years, who have helped me build such a trove of reflection and inspiration as above.

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