My eyes are tired. Tired of being open, and tired of around 12 hours today in front of the computer screen. Nevertheless, I have to share at least a glimpse of what troubles and joys my heart this week. I like it when people ask me how 'the fast' or 'Ramadan' is going. The butchers in my local Halal Butcher shop ask me, and we all smile saying الحمد لله "Thanks be to God!" I don't mind when the couple of ladies at work ask me how the fast is going - I like to explain that I feel surprisingly well. How does my mouth not dry up by the 18th hour of fasting? And today I spoke with a dear friend all the way in Saudi Arabia, whose smile I could hear when I replied jubilantly to her questions about my Ramadan 2011. IN fact, when I came home from work today I found a huge box covered with layers of duct tape and Arabic shipping messages at the foot of the stairs with my name on it. I wouldn't let myself open it until after I showered and prayed Asr. Otherwise, I knew I would be so absorbed in the thoughtfulness of their gift that I would easily delay the prayer by one more hour than necessary.
They sent me two varieties of Riyadh dates, and in enormous quantities. I couldn't help but ask her in my thank you email and over the phone - How do you expect me to eat all of these? I'm worried that I am not generous enough to be Muslim. These people will give to you whatever you need that they have in a heartbeat without any hesitation, as if generosity is a natural reflex. I'm not really like that, yet. Maybe with a few people, but generally, I have to admit that I think generosity through a few times. If I were not in debt, would I be more generous? Zakat is strongly emphasised all year for Muslims, but particularly during Ramadan. From what I understand, due to my school loans, I am exempt. This is probably why debt and the charging of interest are not permissible in Islam to begin with.
It's nearly one in the morning and I'm munching on my cookies and drinking as much water as I can to rehydrate and saturate my body in preparation for tomorrow's fast. For the past few days I've been watching lectures regarding Islamic perspectives on Jesus Christ. As I mentioned before, even though I personally prefer the Muslim understanding of Jesus, I don't want to 'mistakenly' deny the Jesus I was raised to believe in. I still want to hear more explanations from Islamic scholars on the Christian belief in Christ's death and resurrection. But I've watched enough Ahmed Deedat this week to now have my Bible open on my desk. I hadn't open my Bible in months, but Muslim Deedat challenges his audience to open it. At some moments I felt like I was listening to Gordon Brubacher in a Boyer Hall classroom again.
I read the book of Matthew and excerpts from John in one sitting. This is the first time I've read the Gospels since a great deal of Islamic study, and can I say that the Gospel, the words and stories of Jesus, felt clearer and more illuminated to me than ever before. I have some initial theories about how the Quran, which is not a book of stories, illuminated the message of Jesus. But for the moment, I am content to only begin to convey how pleased I am that rather than putting me off from the Bible, somehow Islam has drawn me closer to it.