Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page at Huffington Post and check out our archives: Ramadan Reflections 2011
Day 17: A Prayer for Syria
It’s really sad and surprising to me how the world is watching what is happening daily in Syria and not really doing anything about it.
For those who are unaware, more than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria and hundreds of thousands have become refugees, forced to flee from their homes since the uprisings started there in 2011. Headlines today tell us of the regime-based army positioning 20,000 soldiers around the city of Allepo, a city with a population of about 2.5 million, to what will be another inevitable massacre of civilians, young and old. “This is the concern: that we will see a massacre in Aleppo, and that’s what the regime appears to be lining up for,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.….Read More
Day 16: How to Cope with Death of Loved Ones?
There is a narration that is found in the Islamic tradition in which a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, named Abdur Rahman ibn Awf speaks about visiting the Prophet’s infant son, Ibrahim. In this particular narration, he mentions that the Prophet kisses Ibrahim and takes him close, and then later begins to shed tears because Ibrahim is in his last breaths. Abdur Rahman asks about these tears to which the Prophet responds “Oh Ibn Awf, this is mercy.”
The Prophet then cries more and says: “The eyes are shedding tears, and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. Oh Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”….Read More
Day 15: Don’t Forget the World’s Oppressed
I can’t imagine what I would do if someone told me they wouldn’t let me fast. Not because I was sick or it would somehow be detrimental to my well-being, but simply that I couldn’t because they didn’t want me to. A small minority population of Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, are facing this reality.
What the U.S. State Department has called “repressive restrictions on religious practices” in a global report on religious freedom, the local government of the Xinjiang region has justified in a statement it released saying “the county committee has issued comprehensive policies on maintaining social stability during the Ramadan period.” The result? A minority group that has already been held down for some time is now being pushed down even more. The statement also says, “It is forbidden for Communist Party cadres, civil officials (including those who have retired) and students to participate in Ramadan religious activities.”….Read More
Day 14: Marriage, Dating and Cultivating Healthy Relationships
I find myself often having a familiar conversation with many young men who are about to get married. One of the first times it happened, I was approached by a guy after I had given a lecture at an Islamic Conference in the United States. He was pretty tall and well put together, but there was a certain anxiety about him. He asked if we could speak in private and when we were out of earshot of most he said he was getting married in a few weeks and needed my help with something. I congratulated him and said I’d be happy to help out. He said his upbringing was such that he never really had a relationship with a girl before and now, with his wedding coming up, he felt like he was expected to go from having no experience in even talking to a girl to being physically intimate with one. The only thing he knew for certain was that he didn’t feel ready or comfortable and had no idea what to do about it….Read More
Day 13: How to Break Bad Habits
A story that I was told when I was younger involves a young man who cared deeply for his entire family, and amongst them his wife and young son. One day, this young man’s mother passes away and his elderly father needs a place to go, so he comes to live with this young man. The elderly father needs constant care and attention and the young man’s wife provides it, but not without complaint. She tells the young man that he needs to do something about his father and he replies only with silence.
One night, they all sit down to eat dinner and the elderly man is so frail and fragile, that the weight of the plate that he holds in his hand is too much for him to handle, and it falls from his grasp onto the ground, shattering into pieces. “Look at what your father has done now,” says the young man’s wife. “Won’t you do something about this?”…Read More
Day 12: Are You Sleeping Enough and Eating Well?
Many of the people that I saw last night at our Islamic Center’s iftar dinner and night prayer seemed pretty tired. This could be because they have been fasting for almost two weeks. It could also be because it was Monday. Most probably it was because of both.
In some parts of the world, one’s entire schedule changes during Ramadan to accommodate the late nights and the fasting during they day. In the United States, that doesn’t really happen. Muslims still get up and go to work, school, and perform other tasks and responsibilities that we would be expected to do, whether we are fasting or not. A busy work day after a week and a half of not eating or drinking during daylight hours can start to take its toll, especially if we aren’t taking care of our bodies in the process.
Eat of the good things which We have provided for you ~ The Holy Quran, (2:173)…Read More
Day 11: Seek Support
Two young women and a young man reached out to me respectively this past week, none knowing the others, but all having gone through a similar experience as children. Each had been the victim of sexual abuse at a very young age, and none of them had really spoken about it for quite some time. All three had at some point tried to speak with the one or both of their parents about it (one spoke only to the mother as her father was the abuser) and none had received any support or validation of their concerns — one was even told it’s not a big deal. All three were told not to speak about it with anyone so each ended up holding it inside for quite some time.
Aside from these three, 108 unique individuals in the month of July have reached out to me on issues ranging from depression, anxiety, suicidal tendency, domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, sexual orientation, dealing with mental health disorders, marital issues, issues with parents, relationship issues, theological issues, and much more…Read More
Day 10: Supporting Converts to Islam
Last night in Houston I had the privilege of meeting a young man, named Abdur Rahim, who converted to Islam a couple of years ago. After my lecture at the mosque, we ended up grabbing a quick bite together with my friends Farooq Razvi and Mohammed Faiz Khan at a Denny’s close-by. Abdur Rahim is from a Latino background and is to the best of my knowledge the only convert in his family.
As we looked over the $2 value menu at Denny’s, Abdur Rahim and I began talking and he said something that I’ve heard many converts to Islam say, but still hurts whenever I hear it. “People get really excited when you convert, and they are around in the beginning,” said Abdur Rahim, “but then it seems like they forget about you.”…Read More
Day 9: Racial Profiling
I’m about to board a flight to Houston at NYC’s LaGuardia Airport. My flight is boarding in about 25 minutes. I checked-in at home and got here about 15 minutes ago.
There used be a time when I took domestic flights that I wasn’t allowed to check-in from home and had to plan to be at the airport two hours before a domestic flight. When I would get to the airport, my boarding pass would print with “SSSS” on it, signifying that I was some kind of security threat. When it became my turn in line with the TSA agent checking IDs and boarding passes, a call would be made to a supervisor who would then escort me through the security line, place my belongings in a red bin as opposed to the regular grey one, and once I went through the metal detector, would be escorted to a glass encased box, one side of which was a bar that dropped behind me, I guess in case I tried to run away. The glass panels I guess were so everyone who was about to get on the plane with me could watch what was happening. I’m sure they found that comforting and appreciated it….Read More
Day 8: The Women Who Shape Us
There seems to be a lot of conversation these days on Muslim athletes at this year’s Olympics and the tough choice they face in fasting during Ramadan or not. Growing up, I played football and ran track since I was around 12 and the decision to fast while I was practicing or playing never really came up. This wasn’t because I was particularly devout or committed to my faith per se. Mostly it was because I saw my sister fasting while she played basketball, so I just did what she did….Read More
Day 7: Give Them Room to Grow
My brother-in law Arvind, who is not Muslim, has a Muslim friend who fasts during the month of Ramadan. His dedication to his fasting was brought up, as this young man throughout the rest of the year, and even during some nights in the month, would drink alcohol, which is not allowed in Islam. During the day, though, his focus would be his fast, to the extent that he even orients timings that he had to take medications around it. Arvind found it confusing that his friend, who didn’t really, in his own words, observe too much else of the religion, would be diligent in his fasting….Read More
Day 6: Who Speaks for American Muslims?
Sherman Hemsley passed away yesterday. For those who don’t know him, he played the character “George Jefferson” on the TV sitcom “The Jeffersons.” He and his wife “Louise,” lovingly called “Weezy” at times on the show by her husband, brought a lot of different laughs and lessons to me growing up. My family would regularly watch shows like “Good Times,” “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son,” each funny in their own way, and at times purposefully educational. Many episodes dealt directly and indirectly with issues of race and racism, privilege, socioeconomic reality and culture. Watching Archie Bunker deal with the reality that a black man moved into his neighborhood, or George Jefferson interact with Tom and Helen, the interracial white husband and black wife with a daughter named Jenny, presented a good tool for learning about life experience of others. In homes that would never allow people of different skin colors in through the front door, the television was bringing them in and letting stories be heard that needed to be. Muslims can learn something from this….Read More
Day 5: Forgiveness
A woman and her husband had come to see me some time ago seeking marital counseling. Some weeks passed and I met with the woman individually. In the course of that meeting, it came out that her husband was abusive and she had been internalizing the experience for quite some time. She was at a loss in regards to what she should be doing as culturally it was not encouraged for her to get up and leave her husband, despite what he was doing to her. Religiously though, it’s clear that what he was doing was more than just wrong…Read More
Day 4: Sustaining the Experience
By God’s Grace, I have been fasting during Ramadan for almost 20 years now. Fasting brings with it a heightened level of introspection and it seems that each year I learn so much about who I actually am and what I am capable of doing and staying away from. It also seems like once the month is over, I forget a lot of what I learned.
A few people now have said to me that its hard to sustain the experience of Ramadan beyond the month which, to be honest, made me somewhat sad. The overall mindset and the actions that it yields within the one who is fasting is hard to maintain itself. The month has just started and it’s already been amazing. In these first few days, mosques are filled up and…Read More
Day 3: Considering Marriage
My wife, Priya, usually wakes me up to pray every morning before sunrise. This being our first Ramadan together as a married couple, she’s also taken on the task of getting me up to eat something before dawn when our fast starts. When I rolled out of bed yesterday, I noticed that she was a little more dressed up than usual for 4am. Before I could ask she told me she was going to the hospital. I gave her a kiss goodbye and asked her to call me if she needed anything…Read More
Day 2: Lessons from the Light of a Candle
I woke up very excited yesterday about hosting our first fast-breaking iftar dinner at our Islamic Center at New York University and seeing faces that I hadn’t seen for quite some time. My mind and spirit were both stuck in a bubble of Ramadan goodness and along with it I assumed the rest of the world was in a similar place. As news broke out of the shootings that took place in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, that bubble popped and reality stepped in hard. For weeks prior I thought of my Ramadan from a very introspective lens. The tragic news of lives lost and shaken in Colorado reminded me that there is a still a world that exists around me, and that world can be a tough place to understand sometimes…Read More
Day 1: What Will Make This Fast Different?
This Ramadan is unique in comparison to the Ramadans that came before it just as today is unique in comparison to each yesterday that we have lived and every tomorrow that we will see.
As in years past, Muslims all over the world, myself included, will abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in sexual activity from sunrise until sunset for a month. The rituals and actions that render my fast to be valid will stay the same….Read More