The month of Ramadan is a special time for purifying oneself, the greatest opportunity to implement the discussions and cures with regard to the heart. In fact, this is the purpose, blessing, and secret of the month. It is a remarkable event when the new moon of Ramadan is sighted, when eyes aim toward the horizon shortly after sunset and wait until suddenly a small sliver appears. Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi said in his commentary that the secret of Muslims following a lunar calendar as opposed to a solar calendar is that the sun is used for worldly benefits while the moon is used for other-worldly benefits. Witnessing the new moon is seeing emergence, as it is known in philosophy. The crescent suddenly emerges in the sky seemingly out of nothing. The reason the moon is not visible at first is because the sunlight is too strong. But as sunset progresses, the light diminishes on the horizon and the sunlight against the crescent itself becomes distinguished from the surrounding crimson sky. So what we actually see of the moon is the sun’s light reflected against the lunar sliver. In fact, anything that we see in creation is due to reflected light. And all light comes from God. Witnessing the birth of the new moon is pregnant with metaphor. The word hilal (crescent) is closely related to an Arabic word that refers to birth (istihlal). So what we see is actually the birth of reflected light.
Hunger can bring out the worst in us. In a wonderful scene in Shakespeare's As You Like It, a desperate and hungry Orlando comes upon Duke Senior and his exiled court in the forest, who are about to start dinner. Assuming the law of the jungle presides in Arden, Orlando brandishes his sword and demands food upon pain of death. Duke Senior rebukes him for his lack of civility, and wisely adds: "Your gentleness shall force, more than your force move us to gentleness." Orlando responds: "I almost die for food, and let me have it." Unfazed, the duke says: "Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." Orlando is shamed by the duke's gallantry and explains that hunger had bred violence in him.Read More