Ramadan Day 20: Ramalama-Ding-Dong Part II, Letters from Devils

The day stretches the same way I do, a precursor to arthritis, slow, with some crackles of the knees, with the intensity of a backache.

I like to write when the day is half behind me and half ahead of me. The first part of the day is a build-up, and the second part of the day is a release. I feel that I have accomplished something, and that I can move forward, now having done something with my day.

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.

I don’t believe in breaking the fast when you have your period. I do believe, however, that if you want to break the fast when you have your period, you can and should. I do believe that women and men should stop fasting when they experience health issues. But, I don’t believe that if you’ve had to modify or resume eating lightly or drinking water for health reasons that you are no longer fasting.

I believe your intentions matter.

I don’t believe the premise that women aren’t clean while menstruating. My dear wise Saimo once said to me: Menstruation is, in part, what gives women the most holy of abilities – to make more Muslims. Why is it a sin?

Ergo, I believe that a woman may continue to fast for Ramadan while she is menstruating, and she may also be exempted from the requirements of Ramadan while she is menstruating.  Of course, that is between her and Allah. Allah decides who is fasting in the true spirit of Ramadan, not Muslims.

I do believe that sex while you’re fasting is wrong, but that’s probably because i’m a prude.

Don’t open the door to the study

I don’t believe that women should pray behind men, and I do believe that women can and should cover themselves, if they want. I’m still not sure what I think of women and men praying separately.

I would like it if the answers to questions about the amount (or if at all) a woman should cover came from Allah, and not from men. I also don’t believe that unwanted sexual attention or sexual assault perpetuated upon a woman’s body is ever that woman’s fault.

and begin reading.

I don’t believe that true modesty is measured in inches.

Then again

What difference does it make what I believe?

I’m not here to tell people to do whatever they want

Or am I?

I didn’t make the rules so the rules aren’t mine to pick

I’m not a convert and I’m not a non-believer

I’m as queer as Rumi was and I don’t walk straight

I may do things that are Haram

but I am not Haram.

Take down a musical instrument.

Like many queers, I like to think during the in-between, the hours between night and day, the times between moons.

If belonging to Islam, to any religion, is preconditioned on a belief that you a sinner, then you begin from a place of thinking. You must think upon yourself. You are the object and subject.

You begin thinking through fasting. You are fasting from acceptance. You are fasting from clarity. You are fasting from ease. But do not fast from what is right.

Do not fast from Allah. Do not fast from Allah’s love.

At stake is only your life.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

I had a chance to speak to a friend a group of queer Muzzies in NYC has nicknamed The Imam. This is a good name for her as she is a kind person and truly believes in Allah, a conservative in her values, and a considered person.

She has another quality, a quite lovable one, if you will, where she listens to the fasting shortcomings of our community. “I’m not fasting today.” “I drank some water.” “I didn’t pray.” “It’s okay,” the Imam likes to say.

Once, I called the Imam and let her know that I’d been accepted to a writing workshop, and that I didn’t want to break even the slightest rule. She reminded me, “You’re also supposed to follow the Prophet, but are you planning to grow a beard?”

I’m not as forgiving as the Imam.

If people gave me a chance, I’d show them how Ramadan makes hypocrites of us all.

Especially when it comes to judgment.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground

The other day, the Doctor said that during Ramadan Satan and the devils are chained up, and are no longer free to roam earth, wreaking havoc, causing sin.

Pay special attention, he said, to your behavior because during Ramadan, what you do is truly about you. It comes from you, not devils.

Well, where are they? I asked, curious.

He didn’t answer.

Maybe they’re imprisoned on earth, I thought. Do they have visiting hours?

Perhaps the devils, wherever they are, spitting in fetters, have been given postal privileges.

They write love letters.

Pay attention! They snicker, smacking their lips, rubbing their palms. They giggle and roar.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, they say, that’s happening is our fault. All this anger and rage at other people, all this helplessness because you aren’t getting what you want, or not doing what you want, all this blame – well, that’s an old bone, and we have it with us.

For our love is vast, and it encompasses you, and even when we are gone, you still hold us:

in your hearts

in your judgment

in your eyes

press us

close to your chest

Sincerely,

Devils

There are a thousand ways to go home again.

This Ramadan, I have less energy to do things, although I have as many, if not more, thoughts. I’m irritated, a foul-mood. I’m picky and pick at others. I watch myself, as I consistently apologize to loved ones that I’ve been mean because or upset because I’m fasting. But it’s not the fault of the fast. It’s not the fault of the devils. It’s about who I am, my weaknesses, my inclinations.

Careful to pass judgment upon another, I see fit to extend a kind and loving hand to my self.  Without the devils hanging around, I can finally ask Allah’s forgiveness for the right things.

***

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty

and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

 

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground

 

-Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks.

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