Ramadan Reflections-Moon where art thou?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar. It is the most blessed month where the Shayateen (devils and his chaplains) are chained up and we are basically left to our own vices and no one to blame for our bad behaviour. Imam Khalid Latif of ICNYU is submitting daily reflections to the Huffington post, which I find truly inspiring, so I thought, why not take sometime daily and reflect. After all, isn’t the month of Ramadan about taking a deeper look at oneself?

I am obviously 4 days behind in my reflections, but my very first reflection began on the night when we begin the tedious battle to sight the one moon our earth has been blessed with. Like every year, there was a confusion, some people started on Friday the 20th, while others started on the 21st. Every year, I find myself getting angry at this lack of unity between the Ummah. If we cant seem to agree on the day the moon is sighted, how in the world can we agree on other matters of graver consequences?

Every year, I find myself cursing, being agitated and irritated. This year, the confusion was still there. Since, I am visiting my parents in Vancouver from NYC, I am 3 hours behind from my counterparts on the East Coast. I got an email from the ICNYU declaring Friday as the day for Fasting. I waited anxiously to hear form our Local Masajids to see when they would declare it to be Ramadan. Vancouver is generally a city of overcast days, which of course adds to the dilemma of sighting the moon. As luck would have it, Thursday night was a beautiful clear night. Our local mosques finally declared that Ramadan was not beginning on Friday as it was for Saudi Arabia or as followed by ISNA. Generally, by about this time, I am pretty angry, and thus begins the month of Ramadan on a very sour note. However, this year was different; maybe I am finally maturing, maybe I have been too preoccupied to really delve deeper into the matter, or maybe because I decided last year to pay closer attention to Mufti Google:).


I was out late on Thursday night rekindling contacts with my old University mates, maybe it was that feeling of rejuvenation that this whole moon sighting fiasco didn’t send me hurling down anger lane. I came home, realized that it was not Ramadan as per the local mosques and went on my merry way to check what Mufti Google’s moon app has to say? As it were, iGoogle showed the moon at 1% waning (new moon). 1% waning to be viewed by the naked eye is perhaps a tad difficult to accomplish, so there is room for negotiating the start date of Ramadan by using this traditional method of moon sighting. Similarly, Islam makes allowance to utilize the scientific breakthroughs and come to a conclusion. Either way, whoever decided to fast Friday was just as safe as one who decided to start on Saturday. I, for one decided to start fasting on Friday. I still followed the beginning of Ramadan with the local mosques here as Saturday and to offer Taraweeh prayers starting Friday night, but my logic to start fasting was that even if it is not Ramadan, then I get the reward for nafil Fasting, and if it is indeed Ramadan, then I ended up fasting on the right day.

I am by no means well-versed in the matters pertaining to my religion and faith. There is significant disagreement within the Islamic Scholars on various topics of Islam and it ends up becoming a bone of contention for many Muslims growing up in the present day. I suffer from the same day in and day out, including the debate around the start dates of Ramadan and the Eids. However, for some reason I reacted much more calmly and logically this year than I did last year. I recall, the same confusion around Eid time after Ramadan, and I remember being so furious that I am sure my entire fast that day was wasted. A lot of this agony perhaps from from feeling left out. Ramadan and Eid are such festivals that there is joy in celebrating it together as one. It feels miserable to be fasting when some are celebrating Eid or you feel guilty when some are fasting and you are still eating. I don’t think there is a solution that would make everyone happy, but the lesson to learn here is to try to not react badly in such situations.  One of the beautiful things about this religion is the vast diversity of people that are part of its make up. Celebrating on two different days is part of that diversity.

Happy Ramadan to All my brothers and sisters around the globe. We are lucky and blessed to share together this month of goodness despite distances, time zones and different start dates!!!



Pay to snuggle !!!


I am going to sound judgemental from here on, but how much money do people have in their lives to pay someone to snuggle with them? I understand the importance of touch and meaningful relationships, but does cuddling with some random stranger for the sake of releasing the feel good hormones really “normal” and should we really accept it as “normal”?

I am not denying one’s need to want to feel that physical touch. Touch is a powerful sense. The human psyche is complicated indeed, and it is difficult for me to comprehend why someone would pay to cuddle? Whatever happened to actually getting out there and working towards having meaningful relationships? Why is it okay for someone to capitalize on a “natural need” and make it a business? We are allowing for people to further marginalize and disintegrate from society and promoting isolation. Research shows that cuddling lowers levels of cortisol, strengthens the immune system, and lowers blood pressure, but I am going to argue that paid cuddling to fulfill that physical void without the emotional connectivity of a relationship is only going to offer the benefits in the short-term and not in the long term. Human beings are social creatures. We are meant to mingle, make friends, get into long term relationships, have families and build communities. We were not meant to just live in isolation. How much of our times have we dedicated to the pursuit of money that we have no time to build meaningful relationships and communities?

The very basic premise of this idea of seeing a “need” and then starting a business to fulfill that need perpetuates that money can buy happiness. What lessons and what kind of community are we leaving behind as legacy for our future generation? We are basically saying it is okay to be lazy and not need to have relationships or to work to have relationships (relationships in all its forms, friendship, family, society, even with God etc)? Why are we not trying to work to make holistic individuals, rather than just being able to buy every emotional desire? Why?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how hard it is sometimes to meet people you want to have relationships with. It is not easy, but anything worth having is generally not easy. Relationships by definition are not easy and require work and effort. I guess, this is our quick way of paying for something just so we don’t have to work for it? Why are going further towards a life that is unfulfilled? I also cannot ignore the obvious problem with this model, $60 an hour for cuddling means only those who can afford it can fulfill this need of theirs; therefore, only the rich have the means to be able to do this, whilst the not so rich are left to the good old tactics of having to do things the old fashioned way.

Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy or am I crazy?