DAY 172: Ramadan

June 10th, 2016 § 0 comments

Well, not strictly; and don’t expect me to start wishing my friends a Ramadan Kareem ramadanas so many North London pseudo-Muslims are doing; their observance almost certainly being limited to an affected sympathy for their fasting brothers and sisters. I myself have tried to do without coffee for six hours, and it was not a success. But Ramadan leads us on to much more significant thoughts about time and the value of thinking of others; and, inevitably, about the infinite.

I expect you like me spend a great deal of time pondering the infinite – not simply those eternally silent spaces which frighten us all. What is the significance of Gödel’s theorem? Is there a largest cardinal? How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? And so on. I worry, as I watch the speedometer inexorably climbing past 70 mph – how does it calculate the instantaneous velocity? No one seriously believes that it (the velocity, the quotient of two infinitely small quantities) exists – well, do you?

This is why (yes, there’s a huge non-sequitur here, which if I found it in an undergraduate essay I’d certainly thow a ‘D’ grade at) I feel increasingly that we seriously need to get some figures for the number of refugees who have arrived in Europe – or, indeed, in Calais – over the last 12 months. Is there some place where you can find accurate figures? OK, I’m a mathematician – forgive me, I find comfort in the thought that someone is out there counting, the live and the dead… 135,711 people had reached Europe by the start of 2016 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911). And if that many arrived, how many failed

tombstones_lesvos_web-thumb-largeGraves of the unknown drowned in Greece

to reach Europe?

And how many of them (the ones who made it) are now celebrating Ramadan? – to attempt to introduce some sort of a unifying theme into these meditations. One assumes a fair number, who increasingly need accommodation in terms of mosques, imams, dates for iftar and other paraphernalia. Why should we know this? Because as anyone who knows anything about the infinitely small will know, where you have velocity, you also have acceleration. There are not only more, there are also – potentially – more of the more.

Consequently, my dear and long-suffering readers, there is NO BLEEDING POINT in the ceaseless attempts of the authorities across Europe to repress a potentially infinite (hang on, you can’t mean that) incursion. They come, they are drowned, they are imprisoned, teargassed, their tents are burned, they die on the barbed wire, they suffocate on the crossings. AND STILL THEY KEEP COMING! Because, as all the world knows (but won’t acknowledge) conditions back home are even worse.

It follows, dear rulers of Europe, that you should abandon the failed strategy of holding back the tide as your wise predecessor Cnut (the last sensible English king? and he was a Dane?) did, when he pointed Canute_rebukes_his_courtiersout to his idiotic courtiers, the predecessors of our government, that in a contest between the state and Nature, Nature is going to win, since it has God on its side. No, settle for what I have called elsewhere ‘the Andalusian solution’: allow Europe (whatever that may mean) to become a land where diverse religions coexist, flourish and enrich each other. Good for health, good for music (this is pure propaganda, but it fills the space).

And, naturally, as you might expect from this blog, medieval Arabic woman poets completely overturn all those stereotyped views you had of Muslim gender roles. (You did, didn’t you?) Had you never heard of Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, and feminist theory220px-Rabia_al-Adawiyya based on her life and work? The stories detailing her life and practices show a countercultural understanding of the role of gender in society, says Wikipedia, who should know. And her views on the after-life are similar to my own, I must admit. For how she kept Ramadan, I’ll need a source with more depth than Wikipedia. But here are her views on the after-life:

O God! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell
and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.
But if I worship You for Your Own sake,
grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.

I’ll leave you with that thought. It’s way past iftar, and I’m late for a very important date. (Get it?)

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