Genesis 11:5

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. Genesis 11:5

E 96th St

We've already reached the third day of Ramadan. I thank Allah for making the fast easy on us. I thank Allah for the cool weather, which arrived on Thursday. I didn't need to turn my fan on at all today. 

Prayer area at the masjid.

View from the balcony. The carpet is brand new.
I spent yesterday evening at the beautiful mosque on E 96th Street. I could only get my hands on one date to open the fast, before Reuters News reporters directed their news camera at me to ask what Ramadan means to me. As I walked through the mosque, I could not stop smiling. I felt so happy to be among other Muslims to break the fast. How different it felt from last year, coming home to my quiet room in Hatfield to break the fast in solitude. I chatted with a couple of ladies, one from Leeds, England and one from Egypt, who very quickly asked me to tell them my story, and how I was guided to Islam. Later, all of the ladies and men were channelled into respective areas of the building, to be served rice and meat with naan. The women were seated in what looked like a school cafeteria, and finding a seat was also reminiscent of a school cafeteria.

I was happy to meet new people, but also disappointed to hear some ladies complaining about certain aspects of the Ramadan regime. They complained about children making too much noise, and about the parents who do not discipline them. Of course parents should teach their children how to behave, but I'm sure that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would have been merciful and playful with them, not angry. I mentioned this to the ladies, remembering that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), despite his great love for prayer (salah) and Quran recitation, would shorten the prayers at the mosque if he heard a baby crying or a restless child. He knew it was hard for children to sit through long prayers, and he knew that they just wanted to play. 

Tonight I decided to pray at home. I feel better able to study and focus on the spiritual process that is Ramadan, in private. I studied the External Etiquette of Making Dua, Tafseer of Surah Maryam, and Tashahhud Al-Thani. I ate fruit and salad to rehydrate. I ate peanuts and almonds as a snack, and then an omelet with sharp cheddar cheese, and even later, some De Cecco Whole Wheat Pasta with Organic Bertolli Pasta Sauce.  الحمد لله
Ramadan Kareem! (Have a generous Ramadan!)

I felt safer staying inside, safer than last night when I travelled by bus and subway late at night to get home. I spoke with my family throughout the day, and napped intermittently. I am grateful for this month, this fast, when we are able to learn more about this religion and the Quran. We must also increase our generosity during this month, as much as possible. I shared food with my flatmate. I gave cookies to the Latina lady who cleans the bathroom at work, so she could take them to her children. A young African American man was carrying candy bars through ever car of the subway, trying to sell them. Immediately I was compelled to give something, without taking any candy. I also wanted to reward the young man for his hard work.  Perhaps I should have been more generous than I was. But it's as if we're looking for excuses to be generous during this period, and that is how it always should be.

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