Thinking pleasant, uplifting thoughts…

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When I last checked it was 106 F in NYC. Today is the ninth day of Ramadhan. For those of you who are not aware, Ramadhan (also known as Ramadan or Ramzan) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for Muslims in the United States as well as the rest of the world. The first verses of the Qu’ran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during the last third of Ramadhan, making this an especially holy period.

The period when Muslims end their fast at the end of each day is called Iftar. There are no special foods that need be eaten to break one’s fast, but your body may have special nutritional needs which should be met. Traditionally, a lot of Muslims will end their daily fast by consuming a few dates. This is a staple fruit found in the Middle East that is an excellent source of fiber, sugar, minerals and carbohydrates. This will generally aid the body in maintaining health.

The important thing is to avoid over-eating! Meals should consist of some vegetables, salads, chicken or fish or lean meat such as lamb or beef, grains such as rice, bread or pasta, and a serving of fruit. Drinking lots of water is very important and cannot be overstressed!

One must remember that this is a time of introspection. It should be about cultivating better character and humility. It is about learning that one can “do without,” and reconnecting with God (SWT).

For some reason, I feel particularly “amorous” today. Everyone gets a smile from me, today. It is far too hot to exert the energy to be grim. I will place a bowl of ice cubes and water outside for the wild animals that may be hanging out in the neighborhood. Most of all, I will think pleasant, uplifting thoughts today.

I think there is a lesson to be learned during this harsh weather. We all suffer to some degree, some more than others. We can all endure the plight a little better with just a slight gesture from others. All it takes is a smile or a bowl of water for a few stray animals. Try it! You will feel better…

Gifts from a friend…

I recently received some gifts from a friend who had recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia. She brought me back a “Thawb,” a garment worn in many Arab countries, a “kufi,” the brimless, short, and rounded cap worn by many populations in West Africa of all religions and throughout the African Diaspora, as well as throughout the Islamic world, a compass to direct me toward Mecca, prayer rug and some prayer beads.

Normally, one would not give much serious thought to these items but they are of special significance to me.

Islam has always been and will always be between us. More than 40 years ago, it separated us as we pursued different paths. She became a Sunni Muslim and I joined the Nation of Islam. We lost contact with each other. She married. I later left the Nation, but the “rope of Islam” kept us connected.

I would go on and through much independent reading on my own, eventually embrace a purer form of Islam than I originally started with. The beauty in this story is that which initially caused us to separate became a force that was quite apparent when we reestablished our friendship 40 years later.

She is still married and the Mother of five children. I am divorced but the also the Father of five children. The two of us remain better friends today than when we parted. She will always remain in my heart and in my prayers…

I wanted to share this story because most of what I see about Islam is always in the geo-political arena. We are all just trying to find a path to God. I believe there are many paths. This is a human-interest story and nothing more. I hope you enjoyed it.