Ramadan started on Friday (the 20th). Ramadan is the Muslim holy month in which Muslims across the world fast from sun-up to sun-down. The fast includes, or rather excludes, more than food. We also try to give up anything that is detrimental to our health or our spiritual well-being. In this month, we try to offer more prayers, do more good works and complete an entire reading of the Holy Qur’an, among other things. For most of us, this is a phenomenal time. Through fasting, many of us if fortunate, gain a lovely clarity that we may not have at any other time of the year, though the hope is that the effects of the fast are more lasting than the 29-30 days we spend without food.
I caught this awesome article yesterday in my feed. It made me remember, for the second time this week about a competition my son entered when he was eight. He entered a story into the PBS Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators contest. I don’t recall the name of the story but I remember helping him write and illustrate it. It was a cute little story in which he featured. The gist was him going to space, landing on the moon, and being able to leave three personal items on the surface of the moon. If memory serves, his three items were a chocolate bar, a computer, and a prayer. One of his illustrations was of him making sajda (prostration) while wearing the white space suit.
My son won runner up (maybe it was third place, now that I think back) and he was so proud. I was too. I once hoped, as did he, that he would grow up and become an astronaut. Going to the moon is no longer a big deal, but I envisioned him going to Mars. I also envisioned him making the Islamic call to prayer while on Mars. I’m no longer as hopeful that he will make it to Mars, although I have not completely crossed this off my list f great things I’d like to see my son do, but I’m certain he’s crossed it off his list. His hopes and dreams are far more terrestrial these days. I can’t blame him.
Anyway, I also wanted to share this video (I had difficulty embedding it into this post). I thought it was so fitting, this being Ramadan, me being Muslim, a lover of science and science fiction, with dreams if outer space.
I love Star Trek, but as a person of faith, I’ve always wondered at the seeming absence of religion and religious observances in the show. Until ST:DS9, to my recollection (please feel free to correct me), religious adherences were only ever made in passing reference. ST:DS9’s Bajoran race has an intricate deeply spiritual religion that imbued DS9 with a fresh dynamic not seen in the other ST series in my opinion. As the Bajorans were an integral part of the series, their religion, the observances and intrigues were just as integral.
However, few religions on Star Trek ever resemble those of Earth, namely Judaism, Islam, or Christianity, which is fine. With fiction, particularly fiction of the SFF brand, there is so much room for improvisation and the creation of new races, religions, and WORLDS that don’t resemble the ones we already know. We get to create, which is part of the point, at least.
Currently I am working on a story for the Yuva Anthology. My main character Sanaa Muktari, is Muslim. I write Muslim characters because I am, but also because I’ve seen painfully few that are written as whole human beings. In other words, the character is either Muslim and not much else, or they are Muslim but the other aspects of them are so prominent that their religion no longer resembles Islam. I try to write the kinds of characters I’d like to read about. Characters who like me are a bit more balanced. Characters whose faith informs their world, but who are themselves informed by the world they live in. I hope that I am successful, not in preaching (who wants to be preached at?) but at making some small success in creating balance…at least for myself.