It’s Not American “Aid” To Israel. It’s Tribute.

In the brilliant recent BBC documentary The Violence Paradox the psychologist Steven Pinker explores the reasons why we may be living in the most peaceful period in human existence. A customary glance at the news headlines may suggest otherwise, especially recently with the conflict in Palestine flaring up once again, as it seems to every 4 to 5 years.

In the same documentary the historian and professor Carolyn Roberts declares that “Humans are a hot mess” and right now there is no greater example of this than Palestine, where many of the residents ended up literally as a hot mess.

One of the main problems with the whole Palestine issue is that of context. The mainstream media present a pro-Israel viewpoint, some of them subtly (such as the BBC and CNN), and others unashamedly (Fox News and Sky News). The average TV watcher therefore ends up with a skewed perspective. They think that both sides are of equal strength and both have legitimate reasons for their actions. This is most definitely not the case. This is perhaps why tens of thousands marched in London yesterday in support of Palestine.

For a start, Israel is backed by America, the most powerful nation on earth. If you want to understand why America brazenly and blindly follows Israel, then watch another documentary, ‘Til Kingdom Come: Trump, Faith And Money. It can be a bit slow at times, but it is well worth a watch as it gives a different perspective that many perhaps are not aware of. Another documentary that shows just how subservient America is to Israel is Dead In The Water, which is about the tragic circumstances surrounding the USS Liberty. Again, worth watching.

In a bid to bring some much needed balance, please find below a selection of hand picked quotes from recent articles that hopefully present angles and nuances that many of us may not be aware of. We start with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, an American Muslim scholar, on the sanctity of holy places. There are some old quotes from Chris Hedges, but still relevant to current events. There is also a link to a short clip from Michael Brooks, a political commentator and comedian who sadly passed away in July 2020, but he left us with his brilliant analysis of what is really happening in Israel.

We end with a full article from the international lawyer John Whitbeck, who further explains America’s groveling relationship with Israel. I know there is a lot to read, but trust me please, the quotes are well worth it, as indeed are the articles in full. Please also give Michael Brooks several minutes of your time. As best as one can in these trying times, enjoy…

For Muslims, the month of Ramadan serves as one of the most important means of getting close to God. For that reason, a state of tranquility and calm pervades the Muslim practices during the month. If accosted, a believer is told to respond calmly, “I am fasting.” Hence, the brutal assault of the Israeli forces on the third holiest site for Muslims, while horrific in itself, is all the more heinous given it is occurring in the sacred month of Ramadan, on the holiest day of the month, during the last ten days in which Muslim are particularly devotional, often spending the entire night in prayer vigil. The assault on people praying and worshipping has no justification in any faith or secular tradition. The people at the sacred precinct had no weapons. While some were seeking refuge in that sacred space from the clashes below, most were simply observing their prayers in peace. These continued aggressions on the Palestinian people, both Muslim and Christian, have created an environment that makes the possibility of peace and prosperity for both peoples all the more distant. Events such as this current crisis demand that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders raise their voices in unison and condemn any violence at or assault on peaceful worshippers or their places of worship. Empathizing with the plight of the Palestinians in such situations should not be difficult. This is akin to an assault by government forces on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve or on the Wailing Wall during Yom Kippur. When one of our sanctuaries is violated, all of them are. For believers, this is surely a cause for alliance to protect the sanctity of sacred spaces and the people within them. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, 10 May 2021, from the sandala.org article The Sanctity Of Sacred Spaces

It’s easy to say no one benefits. But it’s not true. Netanyahu has a whole lot to gain from this assault — among other things, it may keep him out of jail. More broadly, Israel’s strategic military planners have been waiting for another attack on Gaza. And for Israel’s arms manufacturers, assaulting Gaza is what the leading Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz has called “a cash cow.”…Netanyahu is on trial and facing years in jail for a wide range of corruption charges. As long as he remains prime minister, he can’t be jailed — but if he loses his ruling coalition, as he was on the verge of doing just before this crisis, he could go to prison. So for Netayanhu, maintaining public support is not just a political goal but an urgent personal necessity…These frequent attacks on Gaza have provided a critically valuable testing ground for the Israeli weapons manufacturers whose export deals — worth $7.2 billion in 2019 — represent a huge component of Israel’s GDP. During the height of the 2014 assault, Ha’aretz reported that the company’s factories “worked around the clock turning out munitions as the army tested their newest systems against a real enemy. Now, they are expecting their battle-tested products will win them new customers.”…Far beyond some claim of “self-defense,” are there other reasons Israel might once again be on the attack? When you look at who benefits, the answer might not be so complicated after all. – Phyllis Bennis, 20 May 2021, from the counterpunch.org article Qui Bono? Understanding Israel’s Latest Assault On Gaza

No one is blameless in the ongoing violent conflict between Israel and stateless Palestinians. Both sides target and kill civilian noncombatants. But let’s put an end to false equivalence. “A pox on both houses” is not a moral or political response to the one-sided war between Israel and Hamas. Israel wants war. If it wanted peace, it would have it…In this struggle Israel is the clear aggressor…Israel enjoys every advantage over its adversary. It has a seat at the United Nations…it has the most powerful ally on earth, the United States, which gives it $4 billion a year. Israel’s GDP is 13 times that of Palestine…Israel is a fully-integrated part of the international community…If the Palestinians were able to fight “fairly” as the IDF and its allies in the media say they would prefer, they would be full-fledged citizens of a fully-sovereign Republic of Palestine, they would have a seat at the U.N. and none of this would be happening again. – Ted Rall, 19 May 2021, from the counterpunch.org article Israel Chooses War Over Peace

Netanyahu’s decision to allow the continued Jewish colonization of the West Bank — territory meant to be part of a future, sovereign Palestinian state — has convinced large numbers of Arabs, many of whom identify as “Palestinian citizens of Israel,” that the state is incapable of seeing them as full and equal citizens. “If I had to sum it up in one sentence: Yes, Netanyahu is completely to blame,” said Yaël Mizrahi-Arnaud, a research fellow at the Forum for Regional Thinking, an Israeli think tank…The violence of the past week does not have one single cause. It’s the convergence of multiple trends and events at one time, a kind of perfect storm that produced the current cycle of violence. And Netanyahu, more than anyone else, bears responsibility for this dark convergence. – Zack Beauchamp, 15 May 2021, from the vox.com article Israel’s Unraveling

What we are in the streets protesting about now is not one killing or one violent raid, but a whole regime of oppression that destroys our bodies, our homes, our communities, our hopes – just as the protests for Black lives that spread across the US last year were not only about George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or any one killing. This is what colonialism does: it suffocates every part of your life, and then it finishes by burying you. It is a strategic, deliberate process, and it is only obstructed or delayed because oppressors are almost always confronted and challenged by those under their rule. In the end, who wants to be chained down for being born who they are? – Mariam Barghouti, 16 May 2021, from the theguardian.com article Why Are Palestinians Protesting? Because We Want To Live

With the explosion of Israeli violence this last week, Palestinians are experiencing a level of terror that is both new and painfully reminiscent of the terror of 1948…The reason that there is a conflict at all is because one group of people has for 70 years been seeking to lay claim to territory occupied by another, and to remove them by any means necessary. In the past, that tended to be at the point of the bayonet or in the wake of a massacre or pogrom; today, it’s more likely to come in the bureaucratic form of a court order issued by a legal system—the very embodiment of the banality of evil—that institutionally and systematically privileges the rights of Jews over those of Palestinians…To make this clear: While the Israeli courts and the Israeli state routinely enable the establishment of new Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, there is simply no mechanism in the Israeli legal system for a Palestinian family to reclaim land or property forcibly taken from them by Zionist settlers or the Zionist state or its auxiliaries, such as the Jewish National Fund. On both sides of the 1949–67 armistice line, the state demolishes Palestinian homes and builds Jewish ones. There ought to be no surprises here: The entire program of the state is, and has always been, built around the project of removing Palestinians and replacing them with Jews. Is it any wonder, then, that Palestinians resist—and that they have been resisting since long before anyone heard of something called Hamas?…The stark reality is there for all to see…The Nakba is now. – Saree Makdisi, 17 May 2021, from the thenation.com article The Nakba Is Now

Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world’s elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet’s largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.

Because it has the power to do so, Israel — as does the United States — flouts international law to keep a subject population in misery…As the world breaks down, this becomes the new paradigm — modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons murdering whole peoples. We do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

What is happening in Gaza, like what is happening to people of color in marginal communities in the United States, is the model. The techniques of control, whether carried out by the Israelis or militarized police units in our inner-city drug wars, whether employed by military special forces or mercenaries in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq, are tested first and perfected on the weak and the powerless. Our callous indifference to the plight of the Palestinians, and the hundreds of millions of poor packed into urban slums in Asia or Africa, as well as our own underclass, means that the injustices visited on them will be visited on us. In failing them we fail ourselves.

Chris Hedges, 19 Nov 2012, from the truthdig.com article Elites Will Make Gazans Of Us All

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories — required under the rules of American journalism — although we know they are untrue.

There is a perverted logic to Israel’s repeated use of the Big Lie — Große Lüge — the lie favored by tyrants from Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to Saddam Hussein. The Big Lie feeds the two reactions Israel seeks to elicit — racism among its supporters and terror among its victims.

By painting a picture of an army that never attacks civilians, that indeed goes out of its way to protect them, the Big Lie says Israelis are civilized and humane, and their Palestinian opponents are inhuman monsters. The Big Lie serves the idea that the slaughter in Gaza is a clash of civilizations, a war between democracy, decency and honor on one side and Islamic barbarism on the other. And in the uncommon cases when news of atrocities penetrates to the wider public, Israel blames the destruction and casualties on Hamas.

George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” called this form of propaganda doublethink. Doublethink uses “logic against logic” and “repudiate[s] morality while laying claim to it.” The Big Lie does not allow for the nuances and contradictions that can plague conscience. It is a state-orchestrated response to the dilemma of cognitive dissonance. The Big Lie permits no gray zones. The world is black and white, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. The Big Lie allows believers to take comfort — a comfort they are desperately seeking — in their own moral superiority at the very moment they have abrogated all morality.

Chris Hedges, 04 Aug 2014, from the truthdig.com article Why Israel Lies

It’s Not American “Aid” To Israel. It’s Tribute.

John Whitbeck, 12 May 2021, counterpunch.org

In the wake of the recent Human Rights Watch report on Israeli apartheid and persecution and the ongoing Israeli brutalities in Jerusalem, a slowly growing handful of brave American politicians is daring to defy President Biden’s publicly proclaimed assertion that it would be “absolutely outrageous” to ever condition American “aid” to Israel on any Israeli behavior and to assert that such “aid” should indeed be conditioned, at least to some degree, on Israeli violations of human rights, international law and America’s own laws with respect to the use of American-provided weapons.

While this modest trend in principled support for human rights and international law by even a mere handful of American politicians must be viewed as encouraging, the tradition of characterizing the U.S. government’s payments to Israel — currently a baseline minimum of $3.8 Billion per year, negotiated and agreed by a departing President Obama for the next ten-year payment cycle, inevitably supplemented by numerous add-ons — as “aid” should also be questioned.

Israel is not a poor country. In the latest UN rankings, its annual per capita GDP of $46,376 ranked it 19th among the UN’s 193 member states, ahead of Germany (20th), the United Kingdom (24th), France (26th) and Saudi Arabia (41st).

The guaranteed payments which U.S. governments negotiate with Israeli governments and commit to pay to Israel are not negotiated and paid because Israel needs the money.

They are negotiated and paid as public manifestations of American submission and subservience.

The accurate and proper word for such payments is “tribute”, for which the dictionary definition is “a payment made periodically by one state or ruler to another, especially as a sign of dependence.”

Ever since Israel attacked the aptly named USS Liberty in 1967, killing 34 Americans, wounding another 171 and inflicting 821 rocket and machine-gun holes in the ship, and President Johnson ordered a cover-up which constituted a virtual surrender, the U.S. government has been taking orders from and paying tribute to Israel, with consequences for America’s reputation and its role in the world vastly more costly than mere money.

Indeed, the American relationship with Israel deprives the United States of any credibility when it accuses countries that it dislikes for other reasons of violations of human rights or international law.

If popular perceptions and discourse in the United States could be transformed so as to recognize that the U.S. government’s payment commitments to Israel constitute tribute to a dominant power rather than “aid” to a needy nation, there might be some hope for a long overdue American declaration of independence and a more constructive and honorable American role in the world.

Ramadan Is The Ultimate Pattern Interruption

We are well into the second half of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. As happens every year, I cannot believe how quickly this month has come and seems to be going. Ramadan is nearly Ramadone (sorry). Even though we can see the finish line fast approaching, I thought it would still be worthwhile to share some quotes and videos that hopefully enhance the overall experience for Muslims during this blessed month. And for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, hopefully they will also increase our knowledge and understanding of the many dimensions of Ramadan and fasting.

According to Professor Tariq Ramadan, one of the world’s foremost Muslim academics, this month is when we master hunger, bodily appetites, and our human impulses so we can release the noblest energies of our being. To put it another way, as is commonly said about fasting, we starve the body to feed the soul.

Before we get to the quotes, I wanted to share my views on what Ramadan means to me. Ramadan is the ultimate pattern interruption, a phrase I first heard from my favourite Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. In a lecture Shaykh Hamza spoke about an incident involving the Prophet Muhammad and one of his companions, Anas Ibn Malik. Anas was politely asked by the Prophet to do something, to which he abruptly replied no. Instead of censuring him, the Prophet smiled and walked out the room. He came back a few minutes later and asked Anas if he had done what had been asked of him earlier. This time Anas calmly replied that he would get to it right away.

Modern psychology refers to this as pattern interruption, a technique where you do something unexpected to completely offset somebody, thus interrupting an expected pattern. In this case Anas would have expected the Prophet to get angry and perhaps raise his voice. However, instead of reacting negatively, this pattern was interrupted by the Prophet simply smiling and exiting the room, leaving Anas to gather his thoughts.

The month of Ramadan is an entire month of pattern interruption. For 11 months of the year we behave in a certain way, but during this one month every pattern in our lives is interrupted. Eating, sleeping, working, travelling, mornings, evenings, socialising – patterns that we are used to being so dominant throughout the year are altered during this month. Ultimately what is in our hearts should also change, for this is the month of forgiveness, not just asking forgiveness from God, but also from and to each other. Ramadan is also the month of the Qur’an, so our reading patterns should also change to incorporate this blessed book as much as possible.

Below are a few other views from Muslims and non-Muslims. We start with a few quotes from Professor Ramadan, all taken from one brilliant article [https://www.abc.net.au/religion/ramadan-is-over-but-the-struggle-goes-on/10100358] that is well worth reading in full. We end with American comedian Hasan Minhaj giving us his view on Ramadan. There are also two videos, one from a non-Muslim doctor on the benefits of fasting, and another from the world-famous Mufti Menk on the least that Muslims should do during this month. As always, enjoy!



Ramadan is a month of discipline that teaches us the deepest meaning of dignity and liberty for humankind, among humankind…Ramadan teaches us that our humanity demands full awareness and full-time commitment, for ourselves and for our fellow human beings. – Professor Tariq Ramadan, 20 Aug 2012, abc.net.au

Fasting is, first and foremost, an exercise for identifying and managing adversity in all its forms. With faith, in full conscience, fasting calls women and men to an extra degree of self-awareness. Instead of looking outside of ourselves and counting potential enemies, fasting summons us to turn our glance inward, and to take the measure of our greatest challenge: the self, the ego, in our own eyes and as others see us. – Professor Tariq Ramadan, 20 Aug 2012, abc.net.au

The aim of fasting is to gain mastery over ourselves, to become aware of our illusions, to become the agents of our actions – and not the object of our own pretensions or someone else’s gaze. The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them. – Professor Tariq Ramadan, 20 Aug 2012, abc.net.au

Fasting requires that we rediscover all that is alive around us, and reconcile ourselves with our environment. Fasting with our bodies enables us to see more clearly with our hearts: the Qur’an reminds us that hearts become blind, not eyes. A blind heart sees nothing but self and its illusions; it cannot contemplate nature, the living creatures around it, and those like it. – Professor Tariq Ramadan, 20 Aug 2012, abc.net.au

Fasting teaches us the secrets of reconciliation, of transcending our weakness and our human contradictions: there can be no freedom without discipline, no true peace without struggle and resistance. Fasting reveals humanity’s curious destiny: the serenity of unbound conscience can only be won by a struggle against the dictatorship of illusion, of false needs or of despots. – Professor Tariq Ramadan, 20 Aug 2012, abc.net.au


The most important aspect of the Ramadan fast is to focus on the painful fact that it is we who are poor. Each and every one of us. However much we appear to be, or to have, in reality we are all absolutely impotent, absolutely weak, absolutely poor, absolutely needy and absolutely dependent…All that we have and all that we are is dependent for its existence at each moment on the grace, generosity, compassion, wisdom, and will of the All-Glorious Creator. Unless we get in touch with our poverty, we cannot possibly give worshipful thanks to our Creator, Who is utterly Self-Sufficient and devoid of all lack or need. If we think we are something, or have something, we cannot get in touch with our reality, which is utter dependence, at every moment, on the continuing grace and munificence of our Lord and Maker. Only by understanding what we are not can we even begin to understand what He is. – Dr Colin Turner, 27 Apr 2021, themuslimvibe.com

Fasting is a perfect quieting of all our impulses, fleshly and spiritual. Fasting is not meant to drag us down, but to still us. It is not meant to distract us from the real, but rather to silence us so that we can hear things as they most truly are. – Thomas Aquinas

Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. – Andrew Murray

One way to begin to see how vastly indulgent we usually are is to fast. It is a long day that is not broken by the usual three meals. One finds out what an astonishing amount of time is spent in the planning, purchasing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up of meals. – Elisabeth Elliot

If the solemnities of our fasting, though frequent, long, and severe, do not serve to put an edge upon devout affections, to quicken prayer, to increase Godly sorrow, and to alter the temper of our minds, and the course of our lives, for the better, they do not at all answer the intention, and God will not accept them as performed to Him. – Matthew Henry

By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body. – William Secker

The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things. – Ole Hallesby

Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, your determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation. – Wesley L Duewel

There are five pillars of belief in Islam. Some Islamic schools of thought include a sixth pillar: jihad. True jihad in Islam is mostly about the personal struggle to be faithful to God. In that sense, Ramadan may be seen as a form of jihad…My husband managed a construction company in Saudi. Once we decided to go to the local Pizza Hut in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for iftar. I love pizza! They had a pizza buffet, so…yeah, sign me up! We got there early and grabbed a table. The restaurant was packed with hungry Saudis. When it was almost time to break the fast, waiters started bringing out pizzas of every kind – thin, thick, supreme, Hawaiian, pepperoni, meat-lovers…We waited patiently. But when it was time to eat, there was no pizza. Everyone else had gone to the buffet ahead of time and piled their plates with slices – I mean, people had the equivalent of an entire pizza pie on their plates, and there was nothing left for those of us who had waited. It was gross. Eventually more pizzas arrived, and we had our turn. As we left, we looked around at the tables, now deserted, and saw tons of half-eaten slices left behind. It was sad. That was not jihad. – Kathryn Shihadah, 13 Apr 2021, patheos.com

Ramadan is the time where we should, once more, rediscover our collective strength…Ramadan should be a time of spiritual reflection and a reordering of our collective priorities. Unfortunately, in the age of globalisation, unmitigated consumption and self-centred, individualistic approach to life, our relationship with Ramadan is veering off from its intended goal to something else entirely. Ramadan is usually the most charitable month for Muslims, a time that is dedicated to prayer, to giving, to seeking forgiveness. It is an amalgamation between the individual’s spiritual rebirth. It is during this month that it feels as if political boundaries are removed and Muslims claim a new sense of collective identity, regardless of where they are in the world. Their point of unity becomes their mutual fast and the associated communal activities — feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, caring for the orphans, and so on…Ramadan is not a time for eating, but fasting; it is not a time for singing and dancing, but reflecting and praying; it is not a time for the accumulation of wealth, but for generosity and charity. More, Ramadan is the time where we should, once more, rediscover its collective strength, for the sake of all Muslims; in fact, for the sake of humanity at large. Ramadan Mubarak. – Ramzy Baroud, 21 Apr 2021, gulfnews.com


For the majority of our life during the year we build spirituality around the day-to-day responsibilities of the world, of dunya. “I’ll pray Isha a little bit later…maybe I’ll sleep through Fajr…I’ve got a meeting so I’ll skip Dhohur…maybe I won’t go to Jumma because I really have to go to this other thing.” And Ramadan for me is this reset where spirituality becomes the core and then I try to build the world around that. And it’s a really good reminder for me to really understand what is this all about, why am I here, what is my purpose on earth? One of the cool things about generosity, specifically in Ramadan, and it got me to become closer to my faith, is that the concept of zakat and giving is about giving back because it doesn’t belong to you. One of the things we often forget here in America is that there’s a sense of entitlement. “I earned this, I deserve this, this is my money, this is mine, I owe it to nobody.” Zakat specifically is about giving because you were lucky enough to be bestowed with wealth or health, and it’s your job and duty to share it. What it has done for me is it’s allowed me to have a connection to the present collective, so it makes me think it’s my duty to be of service to others. Covid exposed the fault lines in society that we already saw, but those cracks got even deeper and even uglier. So now you can’t look away from the fault lines of the haves and the have-nots, the rent and eviction crisis, furloughs, layoffs. These are really, really, sad, sad things, and that separation between people who got it and people who don’t, that chasm has become bigger. So, for me during Ramadan, if you’re lucky enough, you’re employed, you’re able to maintain employment, you’re able to hang on to some level of savings. One of the things this month hopefully will do for us is give us an opportunity to look to those who, unfortunately due to circumstances because of the pandemic or not, don’t have the resources and so it’s our job to help them. My one overriding prayer or hope for this Ramadan would obviously be for the health and wellness of friends, family and everyone I know around the world, and then just for myself is to be a person of service, to give more than I take. – Hasan Minhaj

2020, A YEAR SO MOMENTOUS THEY NAMED IT TWICE

“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” So said Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, the first premier and founding head of the Soviet Union. Better known by his alias Lenin, he died in 1924, nearly a century ago. We’ll never know what he would have made of 2020, a year so dramatic it makes 2016 (with Brexit, Trump, and a slew of celebrity deaths) look like a temporal non-entity.

2020 began with the Australian bushfires, the assassination of an Iranian general (which nearly caused World War III). Then you had the struggle for Hong Kong, the Harvey Weinstein verdict, the death of George Floyd, and the dramatic, divisive and preposterous US presidential election. 2020 was officially the hottest year ever (since records began). It was also a year when the world was being seriously beleaguered by a never-ending pandemic, conflicts, economic recessions, and natural disasters. No surprise then that 2020 was the worst year for economic growth since World War II.

As a result, more has changed in these past months than at any other moment in our lifetimes, and many things that would have seemed unimaginable just a year ago have come to pass. 2020 has ratcheted us into an entirely new world, and tis the nature of ratchets that they do not move in reverse. In other words, welcome to the new normal, whatever that my entail.

Film critic Stephanie Zacharek said that “2020 tested us beyond measure…a year you’ll never want to revisit.” Writing in the 14th December 2020 edition of Time magazine, Zacharek went on to say: “There have been worse years in U.S. history, and certainly worse years in world history, but most of us alive today have seen nothing like this one. You would need to be over 100 to remember the devastation of World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic; roughly 90 to have a sense of the economic deprivation wrought by the Great Depression; and in your 80s to retain any memory of World War II and its horrors. The rest of us have had no training wheels for this–for the recurrence of natural disasters that confirm just how much we have betrayed nature; for an election contested on the basis of fantasy; for a virus that originated, possibly, with a bat only to upend the lives of virtually everyone on the planet and end the lives of roughly 1.5 million people around the world.”

Ever the film critic, Zacharek added that “If 2020 were a dystopian movie, you’d probably turn it off after 20 minutes.” Not sure if that’s due to boredom or sheer terror, but I get her point because 2020 was just weird. Indeed, the cover for that particular edition of Time declared 2020 as “the worst year ever.”

Okay, so 2020 may not actually be the worst year ever. Every single one of us would happily take 2020 over any year before penicillin, indoor plumbing, electricity, regular trash collection, Netflix, or any year during the two world wars. But very little felt real in 2020. Screens became not just entertainment portals but a connection to the rest of the world, where we worked, learned, attended birthday parties and holiday gatherings, played games, and tried to maintain some semblance of real life. The concept of time in 2020 started to slip and slide. Each day felt more and more like Blursday, where yesterday still feels like today, and today still kind of feels like yesterday, and as such all the days merge into one.

And it seems I’m not the only one who feels like time is now distorted beyond normal comprehension. In March 2021 Richard A Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, said: “I hit a wall in late February and felt that life had taken on a quality of stultifying sameness. Was it Wednesday or Sunday? I couldn’t really tell: every day of the week felt identical because there was nothing to distinguish them. Work, read, exercise, eat, repeat. Like nearly everyone I know, I have settled into a state of dreary uniformity.”

American talk show host Stephen Colbert recently confessed he no longer follows the calendar of “the before times” because 2020 was “the year that took 100 years but was also somehow one long day.”

Way back in February of 2021, in an article in the Atlantic Monthly author and journalist Helen Lewis described how the coronavirus showed “how our existence has been put on hold, how time has telescoped while our horizons have contracted.”

In the same month Bill Maher, another American talk show host, made the following comment: “We are half way through February and I still can’t wait for last year to be over. What the fuck!? I thought this was going to be a better year.” I guess we all did Bill. But, alas, the year 2020 was cursed. This is widely acknowledged. The end of any year is meant to be a time of reflection, but for most of us 2020 felt like an entire year of reflection. And 2021 has so far brought little relief, with the first month of this year feeling a lot like the 13th month of last year.

2021 sure seems to have gotten off to a flying start. Covid has slapped at least two new variants upon us, one from Brazil and one from South Africa. Brexit is still promising to bring the much-anticipated chaos many have predicted. And America seems to be on the verge of civil war. Hey America, who would have guessed that, when it comes to terrorism, the calls were coming from inside the house?

Despite this breath-taking bolt from the starting line, 2021 will have to do something truly spectacular in order to beat 2020, the year that changed everything. Any optimism attached to 2021, and there seems to be some (mainly due to the vaccine), reminds me of a joke where two old Jews are sitting on a park bench. One says “How are things?” The other says “Better than next year!”

Speaking of pessimists, in a recent Guardian article the ever-controversial Frankie Boyle described 2020 as “the year we’d rather forget.” He succinctly added “2020: what a time to still briefly be alive.” Whilst much ink has been spilled reviewing the horror that was 2020, two of the best reviews you will come across are presented by Frankie Boyle and Charlies Brooker, arguably two of the best comedians, satirists, and political commentators in Britain. Both are controversial in their own ways and both had a recent 2020 year-end review show air on TV. Brooker had the mockumentary Death To 2020 air on Netflix, and Boyle had Frankie Boyle’s New World Order 2020 air on the BBC.

Last year was perfect for their form of black sky thinking, which is why both shows are worth watching in full, despite receiving mixed reviews. Catch them where and when you can. In the meantime, please find below a selection of quotes from both shows. And, yes, I know there’s quite a few, but they are all rather good (at least in my opinion). As much as one can given, you know, everything that’s happening, enjoy!


Quotes from the BBC comedy show Frankie Boyle’s New World Order 2020, first aired 01 Jan 2021…

This year 75,000 people died in the UK, and it’s hard not to feel they made the right decision.

But there was some hope with the approval of the vaccine and, to be fair, at this point in the Scottish winter, I don’t care if they vaccinate me with a bullet to the fucking head.

Personally, I’ve long been expecting some kind of apocalypse, but I didn’t realise it would be this boring. I thought I’d be sharpening a bedpost into a stake to fight in some kind of underground car park coliseum, not walking around the big Asda just to feel alive.

I’ve found I’ve got nostalgic for arseholes. You’re just like, “Oh, God, I used to see people I didn’t like and it was better than this.”

I’m very hopeful about the vaccine. I don’t care if I turn into a lizard. It’s better than living inside with my family.

One huge story this year was the US election. The election of Joe Biden didn’t show that centrism is back, it showed that it’s now just barely preferable to madness. There really shouldn’t have been so much riding on a dying man beating a demented mango.

Despite his post-election attempts to incite a civil war, Joe Biden isn’t going to prosecute Trump, because no US president is going to risk a reality where there are consequences for your actions.

Looking back, 2020 wasn’t all bad. Some of it was terrible. Even the Yorkshire Ripper got sick of it and opted for eternity in hell rather than finishing the year on Earth.

President Trump, looking like Frankenstein’s monster won a holiday, has worked tirelessly to eradicate climate change by simply denying that it exists…He doesn’t react to external stimuli. It doesn’t enter…He’s a sort of black hole of truth. No truth is going in and no truth is coming out.

2020 is a year when the UK government got a lot of deserved stick. Priti Patel came under fire for being a bully. Personally, I’m shocked that someone in favour of dumping refugees in a volcanic outcrop 1,000 miles from land isn’t a delight around the water cooler.

Dominic Cummings left Number 10 by the front door. It was odd. Not least because the usual way he leaves the room is by crawling backwards into a fireplace clutching an upturned crucifix.

In Glasgow, lockdown was the starting pistol for old people to start haunting the streets like they’d formed a search party to go and find the coronavirus. The streets were thronged with the sorts of people who only normally leave their homes to vote for fascism. Basically, if you had a heart like a withered party balloon and lungs like a toddler’s testicles hitting sea water, it was suddenly time to get out and about.

And even the roll-out of a vaccine has fuelled conspiracy theories. Why would a vaccine contain an electrical component to monitor the British population? Once this is over, we know exactly where the population will be, the pub and Primark. Why would they bother to plant a microchip in you when you’re constantly voting for them anyway, SHARON?!

Ken Cheng: The pandemic started with it being mostly the China angle, and that was exciting for me because I got asked to go on loads of interviews, so I was raking it in. Now everyone has it. I actually miss the days when only Chinese people could have it. It was like, that was our thing. Why can’t white people just let us have our own thing? I’m going to say it: getting coronavirus is cultural appropriation.

This year, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a man who looks like he was breast-fed until he was 29, has been unbelievably busy, spending upwards of 16 hours a day appearing in the dictionary under the word “fuckhead”. Of course, it’s easy to make fun of Matt Hancock, which is why we’re all here.

So, with the UK becoming the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, the year ended on an upbeat note for fans of unforeseen side-effects.

It’s worth remembering that things that currently seem dreadful or worrying will eventually pass as we are ground under the chariot wheels of climate collapse. Having Brexit at the end of a year like this is like finding out your cancer has spread to the walls of your house. Personally, I think that sooner or later the British will re-enter Europe. Admittedly, as refugees. One major problem with Britain is that everyone over the age of about 55 sort of thinks that they fought in the Second World War. You didn’t fight Hitler, Kevin, you’ve sleepwalked onto the drive in your pants again.

Back in April Jeremy Corbyn stepped down as Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party undertook a radical rebranding with the replacement of an unelectable 70-year-old man with an unelectable 57-year-old man, Sir Keir Starmer – a sort of human abstention. A man so boring that already he’s been nicknamed Sir Keir Starmer.

I know that sometimes this year it might have felt like the whole world was against you. It’s worth remembering that actually, nobody gives a shit about you. Which can be a liberating realisation.

Our modern political history is an irredeemable conga line of narcissism from Churchill to Johnson via Tony Blair…I suppose if I could boil it down to one sentence, it’s this. We need to stop treating the traumatised monsters who rule over us as bumbling eccentrics.


Quotes from the Netflix mockumentary Death To 2020, first aired 27 Dec 2020…

2020, a year so momentous they named it twice…the most historic year in history.

Davos is basically Coachella for billionaires. And this year, pretending to care about climate change was top of the agenda, so they had Greta Thunberg headlining. She’s this teenage girl who’d become famous even though everything she says is depressing. Kind of like Billie Eilish.

Meanwhile in America, President and experimental pig-man Donald Trump faces the 407th most historic crisis of his presidency.

Polarization is the problem of our age. And not just in America, in the actual world too. Whether the debate is over Trump or Brexit or science or gender, God help us, or reality itself, no two factions can agree, or agree to disagree, or even agree that their disagreement might be disagreeable.

Look, things wasn’t always this way. I’ve studied human behavior long enough to get sick of it. You gotta remember, most folks are still neighborly, Ned Flanders. Unfuckably nice. But right now, the edges are rougher than ever. On the right, you got shit-nose extremists wondering aloud whether Hitler was all bad and inventing their own clown-house reality. And on the left, you got fucking whiney woke-lords cancelling the shit out of anyone who dares to take a dump at the wrong time of the day. And both sides, both sides look so unhappy it makes you wanna puke. But the way it’s going, you know we’re gonna end up on one side or the other. So, pick your fucking team and hunker the fuck down.

Right now, it takes about six months’ exposure to social media for the average person to become hopelessly radicalized. We’re hoping to get that down to five minutes.

Trump seemed to feel that the virus was one of those things that goes away if you ignore it, like a wasp or a wife.

By the end of March, lockdowns have been rolled out right across the planet, making them the most successful global franchise since the Marvel cinematic universe.

It was so quiet you could actually hear yourself think. I expect.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken to intensive care when he suffered the effects of coronavirus. With the Brexit PM in a critical condition, 52% of the nation holds its breath. There was a real fear that at a time of national crisis the Prime Minister might have to be replaced by someone less qualified than him. Which would be impossible. Unless they were drawing up plans to replace him with a sock or a balloon or something. Just as the Prime Minister might exit the realm of the living, a process known as Prexit, hospital staff nurse him back to health, and weeks later he’s back on the job. Incredibly, the virus didn’t seem to have affected his abilities in any way. He still didn’t have any.

Someone from my PTA WhatsApp group shared a link to a documentary which proves that George Soros created the virus in a Chinese lab so that Bill Gates could make a vaccine out of microchips and control us all like we’re in a videogame.

The police have interesting priorities. When George Floyd, one black guy, tried, allegedly, to pass one fake $20 bill in a liquor store, he had four cops on his ass within minutes. And they killed him. Know how long it took the same police department to arrest the prime suspects in that case? Four days. And they had that shit on tape! Did they think that was counterfeit too?

You had corporations going woke too, asking themselves how can they support Black people without actually paying them. Demonstrating their sensitivity by rebranding Ku Klux Krunchies as Rosa Parks Puffs, and so on.

Some white individuals begin to ask whether they’re doing enough personally…Well, I consider myself an ally. I looked within, I felt I could make some changes. So I started small, posting the black squares on Insta. I swapped to only using black emojis for texts. I sent a lot of friend requests to Black people. And I even learned how to pronounce their names. Even if it was difficult. And then I thought, listen, look, I know I care, but do enough other people know that I care? I realized I should up my game, so I posted a video about it.

With no cure for Covid in sight, life for millions has been reduced to a creepy new normal and a seemingly endless series of lockdowns…I live on my own and after a while I got so lonely I developed a multiple personality disorder on purpose so I could keep myself company. But then, of course, I had to try and keep two meters away from myself at all times. Don’t know if you’ve ever tried doing that but it’s a bloody nightmare. So I started doing video calls to keep sociable. I did so many I sometimes glitch in real life now. I just freeze now and then…Can you hear me your end?

I watched so much dumb shit on Netflix during lockdown. You see Floor is Lava, fire and brimstone, the game show? You know they filmed that last year, because in 2020 people wouldn’t even be bothering to try to escape the lava. They’d be lining up to willingly throw themselves in, pausing only to kick their kids in first. Maybe that’s season two.

The fact, which doesn’t care about your feelings, is that online and in the media conservative voices are being silenced. I’ve said this before. I said it on my YouTube channel. I said it on Joe Rogan. On the Jordan Peterson Kayak podcast. I said it on Tucker Carlson. Twice actually. And I said it in my New York Times bestseller, Conservative Voices Are Being Silenced. It’s a point I have to make over and over because conservative voices are being silenced. In fact, you won’t even use this footage.

The history books covering this deeply profoundly stupid period will have to be written in crayon. By a dog.

Having another lockdown was really annoying because I’d watched literally all of Netflix during the first lockdown. But then I got into this show called America, which was amazing. Have you seen it? It’s on the news channel. It’s totally mental. Just one twist after another. They had this sort of election fight happening between a bloke who looked like a ticket inspector on a ghost train and an inflatable orange maniac who didn’t seem to be dealing with the plague. Everybody hated everybody else, and the whole country was on fire. Not just the forests but the towns and cities. In fact the only thing that wasn’t on fire was the fucking sea, and that was probably thinking about it.

Traditionally by now the loser would congratulate the victor, but Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word “concede,” and he was furious when they told him.

My God. There were so many discrepancies. I mean, listen, according to the records there were dead people who voted for Biden, which is impossible because ghosts cannot hold pencils. They said there were more mail ballots than ever. What about female ballots? The voting machines in Michigan were wirelessly controlled by Hunter Biden’s laptop. Georgia’s not even a real state. There’s no record of it existing before November. Jet fuel does not burn that hot. That was a controlled demolition. Trump not winning is a statistical impossibility like snow in winter or a duck that can’t talk. The total lack of evidence proves there’s been a cover-up! And the whole election never even happened. CNN made it look like it did using Deep State CGI. It’s all a lie. And if that’s what democracy looks like, then count me out. Actually, don’t count me at all because that would be democracy again. And I want no part of it.

The one good thing about Trump refusing to concede was that we got to watch him lose over and over. All those doomed legal efforts? It was like watching a man fall from a skyscraper trying to sue the sidewalk out of existence before he hit the ground.

Trump himself may have been voted out, but the movement behind him persists. America remains trapped in a loveless marriage with itself.

2020 challenged humanity on a scale like no other. A year of tumult, upheaval, outrage, insult, disaster, lava, and division.

RAMADAN 2021 – SOME USEFUL RESOURCES

Kaba pic

We have now entered the Islamic month of Shabaan (moonsighting.com), which means the month of Ramadan is less than 4 weeks away. Preparations for this blessed month should ideally be well under way.

Ramadan is an intense spiritual period where Muslims step up a gear by trying to be a better version of ourselves compared to the previous 11 lunar months. I once read Ramadan being described as ‘high altitude training for the soul.’ In our fast-paced world of hyper-consumption Ramadan is a welcome chance to practice restraint, as it is the opposite of indulgence. As such it is a month where we can engage in self-reflection and mental self-flagellation, and hopefully emerge some thirty days later a better person, less prone to excess and hopefully less rapacious.

This is the month where we use the power of fasting to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves (as the youngsters probably say). A key aim is to rebalance our spirituality in order to gain further insight into our faith, a concept best expressed by the Muslim caliph Imam Ali:

Conquer your lustful desires and your wisdom will be perfected. – Imam Ali

With this intention, I am hoping the following list of resources and quotes can insha-Allah (God willing) help us all to make the most of this holy month, myself most definitely included…


Information about the month of Shabaan…

Please see the following PDF file about the month of Shabaan, from the excellent book The Best Of Times by Muhammad Khan. Please read this in order to make the best of this blessed month, and to prepare ourselves for the main event of Ramadan.


Islamic lectures…

An excellent lecture about Ramadan is Preparing For Ramadan by Shaykh Zahir Mahmood (scroll down the kalamullah.com page please in order to get to this particular lecture).

Another excellent lecture is from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf called Ramadan Advice.


Websites…

A useful website with loads of really good practical hints and tips is http://productivemuslim.com.

I came across a really good website where if you type in a post code it will show you the qibla direction: http://www.qib.la/.


Files…

Five files that will insha–Allah provide some good information:

Complete Guide To Ramadhan

Laylatul-Qadr – guide

Ramadhaan checklist

Ramadhaan preparation pack

Ramadhaan Ashra Duas


OVERALL…

Know that you only get out of Ramadan what you are willing to put in. So, before Ramadan begins, please make time to read the articles and listen to the lectures highlighted above.

Also, I guess we are all hoping this year Ramadan proves to be somewhat different from last year. However, considering how things are going, I reckon this year will pretty much the same. We shall wait and see.

Finally, here are some quotes to hopefully inspire us all further. Enjoy!


Despite the exhortations about being more conscientious during Ramadan, the most shocking thing is that food waste actually rises during the holy month…We need to start recognising the dissonance between what we say Ramadan is, and what we actually do during those 30 days…Fundamentally, the answer is rooted in Ramadan traditions that already exist: share with those who really need the food. The increase in the amount given to charity during the month of fasting is testament to people’s generosity and open-heartedness. It’s also the key to re-thinking how we share our iftars. Instead of having excessive meals on our own, we can think about how to distribute it. – Shelina Janmohamed

Imam al-Ghazālī said the real fasting is not the fasting of the tongue or the stomach but the fasting of the heart, whereby we discipline our heart from feasting on prohibited thoughts and on doubt; despair; anxiety; and most of all, fear of losing what we have. Indeed we could lose it all, but if we have God, we haven’t lost anything. Fear and doubt and anxiety plague all of us, and Ramadan is an opportune time to discipline and disinfect our hearts. This is a month of trust in God, of letting light into our hearts. Let us make this month a time of prayer and peace, a time to recite and reflect on the Qur’an, and a time to seek refuge in God. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

It’s very important for us to remember that this is a time of tawba, of repentance, and Ramadan is really one of the most opportune times of the year to do that. So take this as a time of repentance…This virus has reminded us of the temporality of our life on earth, that all of us every day are facing our mortality. The Prophet said in a hadith that Imam Nawawi put as one of the foundational hadith in our tradition, that if you wake up in the morning don’t expect to go to sleep at night, and if you go to sleep at night don’t expect to wake up in the morning. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Ramadan is a time for contemplation, taking stock of our eating habits and giving to charity. In the western world, we have such an excess of food. We seem to have a culture of ‘living to eat rather than eating to live’. We are fortunate to have so much food at our disposal, whenever and wherever we need. But what about those people less fortunate than us? In many Muslim countries, come sunset when the fast breaks, mosques and restaurants open up their doors and feed the poor for free. I think that’s a wonderful way of giving back. – Parveen “The Spice Queen” Ashraf

Ramadan is a time where we remember to give back and try and feel how it feels to be closer to God, and to remember all the blessings that we’ve been blessed with. It’s something that the Muslim community and individuals really look forward to. It’s something that comes from their heart. It’s a time when we find ourselves connecting with God more because we’re starving our bodies but we’re feeding our soul with God. – Haris Ansari

Ramadan is not a temporary increase of religious practice. It is a glimpse of what you are capable of doing every day. – Shaykh Abdul Jabbar

Ramadan is the time to reflect on the Qur’an and to recommit ourselves to the sacred, well-trodden path, the path of the prophets, the path of people who were closest to God. When we fast, we connect ourselves with an unbroken chain of tradition in a deep and sacred bond with every seeker of God, from the beginning of time to the end of time, to rescue ourselves and to allow ourselves to be rescued by God—that is why this is a blessed month. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Religious fasting traditions — from Ramadan (Islam) to Ekadasi (Hinduism) to Yom Kippur (Judaism) and Lent (Christianity) — are meant to unburden believers from day-to-day compulsions, drawing them closer to their conscience…Ramadan is a month-long spiritual odyssey that is meant to rejuvenate us, both physically and morally. It enables us to detach from worldly pleasures to invest our time in intense prayer, charity and spiritual discipline and focus on our deeds, thoughts and actions…The fast is a reminder of the fragility of the human life and is meant to foster a relationship with God…It teaches us about patience, self-restraint, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. The act of fasting for spiritual prowess makes us conscious, not just of our food habits, but of our thoughts, behaviour and interactions throughout the day. Ramadan helps us hone our patience because, by refraining from consumption throughout the day, we learn the benefit of refraining from gratifying each of our desires in the moment. – Moin Qazi

The Islamic month of Ramadan is here, and I am excited by the calmness and reflection that this month brings. Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, is considered the holiest month for Muslims. It is a time where we fast, not just from eating food, but also from our worldly desires including things like shopping, or watching television — it’s a time very similar to that of Lent for Christians. This month is dedicated to feeding our souls through reading more, praying more, and being more patient and kind to everyone, while attaching ourselves more to God. It is a month that is dedicated to spiritually grooming yourself to be a better person for the rest of the year — contrary to the bigoted perceptions that exist against Muslims. – Imani Bashir

The less fasts certain people keep during Ramadhaan, the more eager they seem to be to celebrate Eid. – Anon

The most common question I get from people of different faiths has to be why we fast. Many people answer this question with a response, “to feel how the poor feel when they have nothing to eat.” Personally, I think that since fasting in Ramadan is not that difficult, it is almost an insult to claim that it is to feel the poor’s hunger. The hunger they feel is much greater, especially since they may not know when their next meal will come. Fasting is a means to gain something called Taqwa. Taqwa is an Arabic word that means many things, such as being aware that Allah (our word for God) has full knowledge of your actions and intentions. In Islam, Allah has knowledge of everything we do and even think. Fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It is understanding that Allah has full knowledge. And because of this, we must navigate through the world with caution of our actions and intentions – to be good to our fellow human beings and to yourself. All of our deeds and intentions should be virtuous and for the sake of Allah. Ramadan is an opportune time to be able to reflect and be more aware of this. – Dr Magda Abdelfattah, May 2018, from an interview in the Wisconsin Muslim Journal

The question I get asked most in Ramadan is, “You can’t drink even a sip of water?” People think that models don’t eat anyway, and so Ramadan should be easy, but that’s not true. For a start, you always end up putting on weight because your body craves heavy, greasy carbs at iftar and then you can’t move afterwards. My mum always says when we’re piling our plates up, “You won’t finish that!”…I look after my body and always eat while I’m on shoots, so this month will be a test, but the peace you feel during Ramadan is beautiful. It’s difficult to explain, because most people can’t get past the idea of no food or drink, but you gain so much spiritually. It’s a different, calmer perspective. You put yourself in the shoes of people who live this reality every day and it reminds you to be grateful and patient. – Asha Mohamud, British-Somali model

This month of Ramadan is about asking “Where is your heart?” Is your heart with God? Is your heart with your own ego? Is your heart with your lust? Is your heart with your passion? Is your heart with your greed? Is your heart with your pride? Is your heart with your envy? Is it with your resentment? Is it with your desire for revenge? “Where is your heart?” That is the question this month is asking us: “Where is your heart?” And this time that we have been given, a few days of reflection, this is the time when you can actually go into yourself, and dig into yourself and ask that question: “Where is your heart?” Because as Sayyidina Ali said “A man lies hidden under his tongue”, because the tongue expresses what is in the heart…“Whoever loves a thing does much remembrance of it”. If you love Allah, God is on your tongue. If you love the world, the world is on your tongue. That is the question: “Where is your heart?” This is the time to return to God, to give the heart back to the One who possesses the heart. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

This Ramadan, as grown-ups consciously slow down, turn inward and nurture their inner spirit, one of the important responsibilities is to also inculcate in children the true essence of Ramadan. The values of sharing, generosity and charity are as integral to adults as they are to children. In fact, the sooner children are taught these values, the better will they grow up into compassionate individuals. Like a muscle in the body that gets stronger through exercise, compassion too grows with every act done in its guiding spirit. – Jumana Khamis

Tribulations test all of us, and we pass the test by placing our hope and trust in God alone…We are the inheritors of a tradition of hope, and our beloved Prophet ﷺ was the most hopeful of men. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

We have become like gerbils in the dunya, chasing after things…The job of the dunya is to make you unstable…the more you become immersed in this dunya, the more you become invested in this dunya, then the more unstable you become…Some scholars have said that jahiliya is to see something and to perceive it as something else, that this is ignorance…in Islam true knowledge is to perceive something as it really is, as best you can…people who immerse themselves in this dunya have immersed themselves in a lie, and they are getting played like a piano on Sunday school, and that is why they are not stable…this dunya calls you to become people who are completely insecure with themselves…Fasting and Ramadhaan call us to be stable. – adapted from a speech by Imam Suhaib Webb

We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. – Joseph B Wirthlin

Western society could learn a lot about the struggles of others through the practice of Ramadan. We have a lot of ease in our society, a lot of comfort, but during Ramadan, people all around us are showing self-control and restraint and sacrifice when they practise their religion. It’s about being uncomfortable in your practice of faith, and there’s a lesson in that. During my research for the book, I was very surprised at the lack of science and studies about what fasting does physiologically to the body, especially considering how many people in the world are Muslim and adhere to Ramadan. – Brigid Delaney, author of Wellmania: Misadventures In The Search Of Wellness

What I wish more people knew is that the practices and teachings of Islam are rooted in love. For many other Muslims and I, holding onto traditional practices in a society that is becoming more and more secular is important. Ramadan is a part of my culture, whether I’m feeling particularly close to Islam as a religion or not. Because of this, it has become something that grounds me each year. Fasting teaches Muslims self-discipline, patience, and the value of the things we take for granted every day. It’s a time period during which I tap into empathy, compassion, and ultimately how to value these concepts not just one month out of the year, but all the time. Each year, Ramadan seems to arrive when I least expect it, but also when I need its reminders and inspiration the most. Telling me to harness and redirect all the energy I aimlessly put into superficial and immediate gratification, into something greater than myself. Fasting teaches all Muslims restraint and self-discipline. It teaches me that Islam — like the moon when I search for it each night — will always be there. – Nadra Widatalla

What motivates you? What makes you tick? This is what our Prophet (SAW) called niyah (intention). What is your intention? What is your niyah? What do you want when you’re doing something? What’s your intention for fasting? What is your intention for giving money? Once you begin to address the essence of your own being, you can begin to understand who you are, and that’s why self-knowledge is foundational in our religion. If you don’t know who you are, you’re certainly not going to know whose you are. – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Whether it’s in theatre, comedy, sports, music or politics, Muslims are challenging the traditional stereotypes and showing that they are, and want to be, a part of the mainstream community. That’s why I urge people, particularly during Ramadan, to find out more about Islam, increase your understanding and learning, even fast for a day with your Muslim neighbour and break your fast at the local mosque. I would be very surprised if you didn’t find that you share more in common than you thought. Muslims are at the heart of every aspect of society. Their contribution is something that all Londoners benefit from. Muslim police officers, doctors, scientists and teachers are an essential part of the fabric of London. There are valuable lessons that people of all backgrounds can learn from Islam such as the importance of community spirit, family ties, compassion and helping those less fortunate, all of which lie at the heart of the teachings of Ramadan. – Boris Johnson, May 2019, whilst on an official visit to the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre