Who is a greater oppressor
Than one who forbids people
From entering places of worship to recite the Name,
Whose zeal is in fact to ruin them?
It was not appropriate that such people
Should enter therein except in fear.
They are dishonored in this world,
And for them there is a great punishment
In the hereafter.*
I’m exhausted, but in a pretty way, sort of. The summer this year is temperate. Wafting sea breezes–but the windows are closed to the Californian coast.
This year I fell in love with libraries, stacked shelves and gilded arches. Ramadan falls with a comforting familiarity. In some ways this year it is also a coming-of-age.
There is little I have to say regarding this Ramadan. I have a lot of work; most of it involves editing documents, research, and studying. The year overall has gone well. I will be 16 in a little over a month. I do not know what to think of this, except perhaps that I should publish some (more) writing before I turn 17. Over the past year I have acquired a questionably large stash of Nine West purses and pretty journals; I am beginning to wonder what I am going to do with them when I leave home. Someone has asked me what my Ramadan routine is like; to be honest I am not entirely sure I have one. Perhaps I have a bit of one. After school is over, it tends to involve going to the masjid in the evenings and playing with children under twinkling lights. These are the images I want to remember.
I went through my WordPress-affiliated email recently and realized there were contact messages I had not responded to. I am really notoriously unreliable at times; for this, I apologize. On occasion I am beset with tears the moment I see certain messages and shut down the window for fear I will fracture like a snowflake.
For the most part, I am looking forward to the end of the school year; as absurd as it sounds I like studying, but this perpetual exhaustion is really rather draining. I will probably take a day off completely and then get back to working. I do not mind working ordinarily; I like half-open windows and iced tea in coffee shops while I read. I also like ER wards and trips to emergency medicine. Have I mentioned I am planning to be a doctor? I would make a good lawyer as well, but I do not have the emotional detachment for that. I could stay in academia, but that would be utterly soul-crushing. For the foreseeable future, my exegesis will remain separate from my professional life except for the crevices in which they unavoidably overlap–this is at times inevitable, but for the most part I like to keep my religion away from my high school transcripts.
Hmm. Perhaps this is an illusion. We like to imagine that an exclusively moral obligation can be retained separately from a professional one barring extenuating circumstances. This, however, is simply not true; one cannot be a doctor or a scientist or a writer or undertake any similar activity without the knowledge of its motivation, which by necessity stems from a moral imperative. And that is why hardline secularism does not work: Eventually, one’s personal moral principles, inextricably bound with religion, make their way into the public sphere. The professional is inseparable from the moral after a certain point. We are constantly in limbo with attempted restraint.
Have I bored you? I probably have. I have a dreadful tendency to go off on tangents.
The only notable development, really, is that I have learned whom to engage with and whom to ignore. I don’t even have a page up anymore explaining why I don’t use hadith as scriptural law because this should be self-evident to anyone with an ounce of Islamic understanding. It’s Quranic exegesis. I do consider certain ahadith valid as possible historical evidence of questionable accuracy, but–oh, you know what, let’s not even waste time on that conversation. (I am not a Quranist but somewhere close.)
Ramadan Mubarak, and Eid Mubarak in advance.
As an aside, I have probably mentioned this before, but according to the Quran you are still required to pray and fast on your period unless it is making you sick, in which case you are exempted–but this exemption is under the category of sickness and not “ritual impurity,” which is an entirely different thing. I still don’t fast, though. Certain regulations are not under my control. (I know for sure I have written about this before somewhere, or at least someone else has. But I might as well bring it up again because this post would look nicer if it were longer.) The traditional prohibition on prayer seems to be based on a wild hadith-based extrapolation of verse 2:222, which quite evidently has absolutely nothing to do with prayer. And as usual, here traditionalists will bring up the usual nonsense of “It’s because you’re too weak to pray and God is making it easier for you,” but we all know that’s manipulative deceit, because there is a huge difference between being mercifully excused from praying if your period is making you sick vs. being told your prayers are not accepted and you are forbidden from praying and you are literally too impure to touch the Qur’an. The former is Qur’anic. The latter is Satanic.
“Have you considered the one who prevents a servant from praying? Have you considered his misguidance?…
Then let him call his associates.
We will call the angels of Hell.” 96
This applies, by the way, not only to those who prohibit prayer, but also those who prohibit women from mosques. In Ramadan, too!
In other news, I have recently published my formal essay on Scribd. I am rather proud of this paper, not least because my sources are cited in MLA format. There was no reason for me to do this except that I wanted everything to look professional. Every time I see this essay, I am reminded of how breathtaking exegesis can be–when it is done correctly. Behold:
On another note, considering the disproportionate amount of time I spend in mosques during Ramadan, I was thinking of the layout of a masjid. I know a lot of people dislike the gender segregation and barriers and with good reason, but I don’t mind it. The barrier ensures that I do not have to deal with men, whom I am not particularly fond of as a group. The only problem to me is the lack of space, and the inhibition–the usual chants of please, take your children away from the prayer area. I am aware that segregation is not mandated by the Quran and is superfluous, often inhibitory; regardless, I don’t actively oppose it. But I respect the opinions of those who do. I have heard for instance that family separation is an issue during Hajj in Saudi.
One might note that the Quran quite explicitly says there was no gender segregation intended in Mary’s time. Surah Imran instructs Bow down with those who bow down, “min as-saajideen.” This instruction is directed at Maryam and the word is saajideen, masculine plural. It can refer to a mixed group of men and women or a group of men alone but never a group of exclusively women. It is amusing that wallahbros pass over this; it is the singularly most important piece of evidence indicating that the Quran does not intend segregation in mosques. If it were up to me, men and women would pray side by side and anyone qualified to lead the prayer and give a khutba would be permitted to do so. It is extraordinary how male children are permitted to give khutbas and air Qur’anic tafsir but not adult women. In said ideal masjid, there would be an optional barrier perhaps (not strictly enforced), but the space would be equally nice on both sides.
I have noticed recently that a piece of exegesis I wrote earlier contains mistakes. I will be releasing an updated version most likely in late June iA. I don’t think it is deathly wrong to make mistakes in exegesis or to overlook something as long as the issue is corrected once it is pointed out. There is a huge difference between settling for a bad exegetical explanation simply because you can’t see any other way out (which was my mistake in this case), versus deliberately warping a text because of deep-seated entitlement, disregard for decency, or chauvinism. There is also a considerable difference between merely overlooking something in exegesis because you didn’t think about it enough versus destroying an entire text to excuse your own inadequacies. The former mistake is excusable if repented for. The latter is what scholars do (cue screams from the #notallscholars crowd), and it is responsible for the destruction of our religious tradition.
In domestic news and xenophobia updates:
Regardless of whether these children intend to be caught or whether they have deliberately gone off the map, one thing is certain: They are forcibly separated from their parents at the border.
Dear Mr. Trump, the shayateen are locked up. It is definitely you.
Also, what the fluff is this?
Happy Ramadan ♥
*Note that in relation to this verse, the entire world can be a place of worship. It takes on the additional meaning of “How can you bar a person from God’s Earth?”–in the sense that the entire world and its public places of worship belong to us all and it is criminal to ban an individual from attaining khilafah.
See the next verse:
115. And to Allah belong the East and the West.
No matter which direction you turn,
You encounter the existence of Allah.
Indeed, Allah is the Knower, without bounds.
This confirms that the entire world is a place of worship (“And to Allah belong the East and the West”) and it is unacceptable to falsely criminalize someone’s entire existence by hindering mosque access and access to the public domain in general.