DANIEL MOORE (Abd al-Hayy)


7 Ramadan



What is it that
once each year one fifth of the
  earth's population fasts during the
   daylight hours?

The globe turning in its usual solitary orbit
basking in the sun on one side, its
  backside bathed in darkness, and

one out of five people among its trees and telephone poles
refrains from eating, drinking or lovemaking

from the Moment of dawn to the
setting of the sun, marked,

as in Morocco, by the boom of cannons,

or the call to prayer and a glass of 
   water and some dates, or

unknown expectations in deep desert wastes

or tables mounded with piles of sweets, peeled fruit, frothy
juices, nuts, things rolled in
sugar, or

as it was my first Ramadan in
Berkeley, California just become
Muslim. flew back from two
weeks in Hawaii. just in
time to start fasting, alone, not quite
sure of the procedure, and I
performed the Tarawih prayers standing with a
Qur'an in my hands reading out the 
English, and the

rest of the people in the house left me alone,
so used to my good-time living, suddenly
cut off from the fiesta, not
eating or drinking, the
strange one who lives
  up in the attic and
      starves himself for 
        Allah --

or Ramadan in Cordoba, in the 
nighttime courtyard, sitting on 
  pillows under Moorish
    arches in the whitewashed antique-style 
      house we all shared, and we'd eat

plates of fresh-baked cookies, and sing the 
    songs of Our Master, and a

strange ex-convict bad cante hondo singer
jailed in Fascist Spain for political reasons, who
     wasn't a Muslim but who 
understood our human position completely, came 
every night punctually and 
  vigil'd with us, then 
after Ramadan disappeared without a

or Nigeria in the market dizzy from
heat and tropical odors so
  pungent of palm oil, sweat and
      papaya, coming, home

stunned to our village compound, breaking the 
fast with cubes of bright pink
   papaya and Nigerian bananas--

or Morocco when our shaykh was alive, and 
he at 110 years old kept the fast when it 
is no longer compulsory due to old age, and we'd

pass the days passing in gray cobbled streets and
each person we'd pass was also
fasting, and after being in

England or America "here people spend
much of tile day happily
stuffing themselves, and to fast is to be

a walking wasteland in the
pure products of America gone crazy,
a monolith of ascetic vigor among
Technicolor consumer goods with doggerel jingles.

to be in a country where everyone is also 
fasting is to be in the 
weave of a monochromatic carpet, part of a 
soft design both geometric and
 haunting to pass 
people in djellabas with dry lips and the
knowledge of total reliance on Allah, to be among 
others also waiting for 
the fast be over, as the Prophet said,
   peace be upon him, "Two things the
believers long for: the
breaking of  the fast and
    meeting it with their lord,”

and we would go around to a shop in
the evening and get 
goat's milk yogurt in little white bowls, and then 
after sunrise take the empties back to be 
 filled up again lot the 
next day , and the

mosques with then columned
  esplanades and open-air tiled
     courtyards would be filled with

people reading Qur'an or lying on  their
heads in their hands resting, and the
sound of the fountain was so
totally refreshing, and so
refreshing the afternoon discourse when our 

shaykh would come
down from his tower-room and
continue the
Qur'an commentary from the year before sometimes

talking for over an hour, people
coming from all over, some keeling
over from the light in his words. in the

echoing mosque in his, Meknes zawiya. the 
     echoing sound of

children playing outside in the alley,
  the distant 
banging of thick wooden door, the 
melodious maghrebi Arabic. ancient honeyed

dryness of the shaykh's voice, sweet
pervasive atmosphere that flowed
from it, the
detonation going off

years later, when what he

said then came into focus, and still

continues to do so to this day, dipping

deep into the well of Ramadan
to bring up into the light of day

inestimable water!