Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice

Kazim Ali. Tupelo (www.tupelopress.org), $19.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-932195-94-1
Poet, essayist, and creative writing teacher Ali (Bright Felon) adds a postmodern twist to the venerable tradition of spiritual journals with this collection of public blog posts and intimate reflections about his experiences fasting for Ramadan, the Muslim season of cleansing, self-discipline, and humility. Constructed around two 30-day cycles, Ali provides subtle yet robust daily meditations on the shifting levels of his spiritual awareness and attention while he refrains from food and water during daylight hours. "The body is like the fasting month itself," writes Ali, "with its own periods of activity and restraint, its own nights of revelation." Drawing on Quranic verses, adages recalled from childhood, and unsparing introspection, Ali brings a razor-sharp minimalism to his prose. From morning runs through the pre-dawn streets in Oberlin, Ohio, planning his high-protein morning meal to post-dusk iftar meals with students who offer prayers in his yoga studio, readers are wooed with intelligent prose onto this pilgrim's path. Those seeking traditional Islamic piety or a logic-driven religious apologetic will not find it here. Instead, Ali boldly sketches the modern artist engaged in an ancient religious practice in an age of iftar Tweetups and iQuran mobile phone apps. (Apr. 15)
Reviewed on: 04/25/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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