Monday, October 09, 2006
  Peaches and Cream
Early this past Saturday morning I woke up, alone in my hotel room, to have my suhur, the meal before sunrise that Muslims partake of during the month of Ramadan. In the pre-dawn darkness, I ate a small package of peaches and drank down a pint of milk, a meal which no doubt would seem quite measly to the rest of my family who tend to have rice and stew leftover from the night before for their breakfasts. Peaches and milk, however, is one of my favorite suhurs.

Aside from the fact that the sweet, goodness of peaches goes beautifully with milk, the simple meal brought back a flood of memories from my first Ramadan, twenty years ago. Of course, that Ramadan took place in the spring, as the lunar calendar is some 12 days shorter than the solar one, but all Ramadans, no matter what season they arrive in, are timeless and seasonless, connected to one another by spiritual threads stronger than any season could ever be.

Twenty lunar years ago, I was in China and I woke up and ate alone every day of the month. Alone in a cold, dark common room, just me, a can of peaches, a soft, white roll, a bottle of milk, and Allah. I felt God's presence every morning that year, as clearly as if He was sitting beside me, sharing my food.

In later years, responsibilities to prepare food for family members, or exhaustion from staying up too late studying or writing, have limited the spirituality of my suhurs. But that year, it was like feasting at God's table every morning.

The strength of those emotions remain with me, some twenty years later, and still have the power to raise goosebumps on my arms. They have the power to reassure me about my decision to become Muslim on the days when I seem furthest from the community, when Islamophobia and Ameri-phobia seem to be competing for the greatest number of adherents, and when I despair of a hopeful future for either the Muslim world or the Western one.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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