Ramadan, Beyond the Fast

Sultan Ahmed (the Blue Mosque), Istanbul. Photo: Colin Christopher

In a few months, Eid al-Fitr will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The most significant Islamic religious observance of the year, Ramadan is primarily known for its requirement that practicing Muslims in good health and of appropriate age abstain from food, drink, and sexual activity from dawn til sunset. Those that are able and interested recite Qur’anic verses during the evening hours, as it is recommended for Muslims to read all 114 verses, or suras, over the duration of the lunar month. But there’s much more to Ramadan than this.

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1 in 13 Million

Uchujin, a Tokyo-based photographer, recently made a short film highlighting the spiritual journey of Abdullah Taqy, Tokyo’s sole native Japanese Imam. Amid the restaurants, bars, brothels, and nightclubs of the notorious Kabukicho District (????) is a modest-looking mosque run by Taqy. A professional tattoo and body piercing artist of 20 years, Taqy is an anomaly in the “Sleepless Town” of Tokyo’s Kabukicho.

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The Real Deal on Sufism

Dervishes, Konya, Turkey

Islamic extremists have one thing in common with many American media outlets: they don’t understand what Sufism is. Often referred to as “liberal Islam,” even major reputable news sources attempt to boil down an integral part of Islamic tradition into a single, ambiguous word. A growing number of Islamic extremists accuse Sufis of idol worship, or shirk, and have recently taken to violence, destroying Sufi shrines and killing Sufi worshipers in the name of purifying Islam. These extremists understand neither Sufism nor Islamic law justifying the killing of humans, and are part of an increasingly large group of both non-Muslims and Muslims that characterize Sufism in a way that benefits them.

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