Liberal Arts Blog — The Crescent Moon, the Angel Gabriel, and “Laylat al Qadar”
Liberal Arts Blog — Tuesday is the Joy of Literature, Language, Religion, and Culture Day
Today’s Topic: Ramadan — The Crescent Moon, the Angel Gabriel, and “Laylat al Qadar”
In 2022, for the first time in 30 years, the feasts of Ramadan (Islamic), Passover (Judaic), and Easter (Christian) coincided. While Easter and Passover always happen in the early spring, Ramadan wanders like a planet across the calendar. And while all three religions are intimately linked, these three feasts celebrate very different events — the exodus from Egypt (Passover), the resurrection of Jesus (Easter), and the revelation of the Quran to Mohammed in 610 AD by the Angel Gabriel. Easter and Ramadan are the holiest of times on their respective calendars — to that extent, more the equivalent of Rosh Hashanah than Passover. Today, a few things I have recently learned about Ramadan. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
RAMADAN BEGINS WITH THE FIRST SIGHTING OF THE THINNEST OF CRESCENT MOONS
1. If you have never seen the first crescent moon, do so. You are in for a truly magical moment. I think of them as “sliver moons.” They have been compared to fine china. What phrase to you best captures their delicate beauty?
2. The Islamic belief is that Gabriel delivered the Quran but did not write it. God did.
3. This belief is analogous to the Christian belief that Jesus was not God’s messenger, but God himself.
NB: The moment of delivery is called “Laylat al Qadar” (“The Night of Power”).
THE FASTING FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET — an all-important reminder
1. Fasting is a reminder of how grateful you should be to God for all that God has given you — from food to life itself.
2. Fasting during Ramadan is the fourth pillar of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is called “Sawm.” The other four are: the profession of faith (“shahada.”), daily prayer (“salat”), alms (“zakat”), and pilgrimage (“hajj”).
3.“Exemptions to fasting include travel, menstruation, severe illness, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.”
NB: “Those unable to fast are obligated to make up the missed days later.”
ENCOURAGED TO READ THE ENTIRE QURAN DURING THE MONTH
1. The Quran is divided into 30 “juz” of varying lengths.
2. One “juz” for each of thirty nights.
3. However, the division of the Quran into “juz” has apparently “no relevance to the meaning of the Qurʼān and anyone can start reading from anywhere in the Qurʼān.”
NB: The fasting ends with a three day feast: the Eid al Fitr when normal eating and “marital intimacy” can resume.
A LINK TO THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
PDF with headlines — Google Drive
Two special attachments below:
#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to words, language, literature, religion, culture. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to Words, Language, Literature (eg. quotes, poetry, vocabulary) that you have not yet shared.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.