A thought for the season

So it’s the Islamic month of Rajab, the month our Nabi, Rasullulah (sallalahu alaihi wa salam) was given the gift of salat. Some time next week the Islamic month of Shaban will begin, Insha’Allah. And then, at some point early in July, we’ll be given the blessings of Ramadan. Insha’Allah.

I want you to please notice something about that paragraph. I’m not precise about the day these Islamic months start on. That’s because I and my family don’t use calculations to determine the beginning of each Islamic month; instead, I go outside and physically look for the crescent moon in the western sky. There’s nothing difficult about this, I don’t use expensive equipment like binoculars or telescopes; I just go outside and use the eyes Allah has so generously given me. I’m usually in an urban environment, so sometimes I have to walk around a bit to find a place I can get a reasonable view of the horizon or pretty close to it. And then as the sun sets I stand there and watch. The sky changes color, a star will appear suddenly like a pinhole in a paper lampshade. Day birds fly home, the evening birds come out to hunt for insects. I peer at my phone to make sure it’s not getting too late so can I hustle inside and make Maghrib salat in a timely manner. Then I look up again and invariably there’s the crescent, hanging there like a pendant on a necklace.


Of course sometimes the clouds are too thick, or it’s raining or snowing; that doesn’t matter, because then I just go outside again the following evening, or if 30 days have passed then the next Islamic month automatically starts.

I find this to be an intensely peaceful and spiritual way to mark the passage of each month. Yes, it does mean that sometimes Ramadan for me starts a day later than my Muslim sisters and brothers, and maybe it will continue a day or two longer. That doesn’t matter. Ramadan isn’t just about big parties, or lots of special food, or attending big gatherings, although those things can be very nice and lots of fun.  It’s also about rediscovering that quiet place in your heart that being Muslim fills so beautifully.

Maybe you prefer to follow the announced dates. That’s fine. Sometimes it’s just easier to manage a busy life when you know what day something starts and when it starts.

But please, consider going outside and looking for the crescent too. Tell me your experience.

Assalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu