July - Sept 2006, Poems, Ramadan

Ramadan in the West

By Altaf Bhimji


A new night
beginning of the sacred month
the thin slice of the crescent
visible only a few minutes
to the naked eye

Awaiting the news, here, far away
in a land pretentiously secular
with In God We Trust
visited only on Sunday

Awaiting watching the Internet for the crescent news
And some calls made
Relatives far flung: Chicago, New York, London,
Frankfurt and Los Angeles

Yes! The crescent has been sighted! Ramadan Mubarakh!
Over miles and miles and miles of telephone lines

The masjid schedule consulted, and alarm clock set.
For the meal before first light

Work the next day, same tempo, same schedule.
The boss and co-workers say; “Oh, you’re fasting?”
Unable to comprehend the beauty of a simple ritual:
“Come, we’re going to see a movie after work; we won’t
make you eat!”

Going home, 1/2 hour before sunset
from the 9-5 routine, never ending, never changing

Arriving home, break fast with some friends
meal cooked the night before.

Remembrance of Ramadan in Karachi, Casablanca, Lahore,
and Dhaka

Tears, and anger expressed today: Murder and slaughter
on this day!
Killed in prostration!
Where Abraham (peace be upon him) lies!
Martyrdom in a Holy month!
On Holy land!

And hope expressed: Our faith desecrated,
fastest growing in America!
A simple prayer; perhaps one day we will fast in San
as we fasted in Dhaka, Cairo, Lahore, Casablanca and

And the fast is broken
and later friends and family
mill around, some content
others tired, angry, grieved
and all somber
on this day of Ramadan…