The bombs are dropping in Gaza and people are dying. Syrians are being brutally massacred. In Iraq, Christians are being expelled and religious shrines destroyed by the so called “Islamic State of Iraq,” and so much strife is painting our domestic and global world with dark, troubling hues. All this as the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close with some of the holiest days of the year.
And like so many of my friends – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and more – I am feeling overwhelmed and emotional, helpless and angry. Not able to do much beyond donate dollars, pray hard, put the proverbial pen to paper and share news and comments back and forth on social media. Someone challenged me on my use of the phrase, “holding on to our humanity” in recent post I wrote, tweeting at me that “humanity phrases is making framework of ultimatum on Muslims. “Loss of humanity” helps moral panic about all Muslims.”
Moral panic? We all should be in a moral panic. If that is what my verbiage is eliciting, then go forth and morally panic. Because at this moment in time, that’s where we need to be: In a panic about our humanity, our world, our responsibility to our world and our responsibility to humanity – as Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, as everyone inside and outside of faith.
And as always, when I am feeling particularly scared and worried about things imploding around me – globally or right in my own backyard, I remind myself that we begin with our relationship with God and with what are our own trials and triumphs in our hearts and homes. We start by the love and care we give toward our family, ourselves, our neighbors and each other.
The routines of autism and Lil D have inexorably marched on this month, not stopping for the chaos that’s spinning the world off its axis. There is beauty and comfort in the mundane reliability of what he needs and what I need to do. A few days back I posted this on Facebook:
Lil D, me, his breakfast pancake, the morning get-ready-for-school routine after a late, late night of un-routine.
Sometimes, as exhausting as they are to maintain in #Ramadan, his routines are as comforting in their predictability to me as they seem to be to him.
There is no up all night, sleep all day, full-focus on Ramadan-ing here. Because even though I am staying up late to do my personal Qiyam-ul-layl-ing before sehri, the alarm promptly buzzes at 7:30-8 a.m. whether two hours or five hours of sleep has been snatched, and the day must begin with Lil D anew. Being with him and maintaining everything he needs to have maintained, continuing to share his challenges, struggles, accomplishments and joys – it has become a patience-challenging-yet-comforting constant this Ramadan that in years past seemed to drain me.
Because these things aren’t going to change, no matter what time of year, what holy month, what world crises are unfolding.
The past four months leading up to this Ramadan has been a heavy and unsettling mix of daily living and pressing worries over Lil D’s health. The kids enjoyed special spring break vacations with their Baba. Amal graduated from elementary school with a lovely ceremony. My nephew had his high school graduation. Birthdays occurred and a 15th wedding anniversary was celebrated. Across the world good things and bad things happened.
But the undertow for me was Lil D and his health. And despite consulting the best of doctors, hours of conversation and research, fervent prayers and beseeching of God, what has happened to him still is there. And it’s not fair. It just isn’t. The words of a petulant child, but they are my words.
And so Ramadan began, and I thought – I will find my comfort. I will find my way with Him, and I will find my way through this. Because Lil D seems to have. He is blissfully and beautifully him, riding the roller coaster up and down, doing what he always has done. But it hasn’t been that way for me. On Muslimah Media Watch, Yasmeen Nizamy asks if a tranquil Ramadan is possible – something I’ve wondered myself. And here’s her answer:
“The utopian dream of a serene, peaceful uninterrupted Ramadan is a myth created to justify shortcomings, both of this life and of humans. But there is no need for such justifications. We just have to grow up and accept the fact that life is not and will not be perfect. Humans are flawed by design. You can’t have it all. Despite that fact, we have to strive to get as close as we can to that state of perfection. Try as hard as we can, bearing in mind that: “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity” (Quran 2:286).”
You ever wonder about that? That ayat from the Quran, which is actually echoed in some way, shape or fashion in various other faiths – that God does not place upon us any more than He knows we can handle. What is happening now, personally in my home, in our communities, in the world around us – the good, the bad, the difficult, the amazing, the horrific, the inhumaneness , the supreme and the sublime – how are we handling it?
The best example I can find is that of my son – putting one foot in front of the other, fighting to be seen, demanding to be heard, struggling to be understood, included, accommodated, accepted, loved and treated with dignity and respect. He is handling it, this charge put upon him.
But are we?