As I write this our Muslim friends are preparing to keep the holy fast of Ramadan. It is not uncommon to hear the faithful declare that Ramadan is the “best” month. I have never walked that path and so I am in no position to say one way or another, but they do seem to be on to something lovely.
The authors I’ve read largely agree on the conditions in Arabia just prior to when the word of God was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH). At the time it was a land marked by tribalism, raiding parties, war games, usury, exploitation of the poor, abuse of women, rampant vice, idolatry, and a vindictive arrogance which demonized opposition. If all this sounds like the Evening News we might also remember that the classical era was ending, the Roman Empire was busy falling apart, and we were on the verge of the threshold of that period historians cheerfully call ‘the dark ages’. The slow but steady collapse of the unifying forces of the past, and the fractious uncertainty that created, may well have inspired in some a yearning for a religion of oneness, the spirit of tawhid.
The more unmanageable our life together becomes the faster we run towards the surrender we’ve been avoiding. Somewhere in all this there is hope. I have no grand predictions about the fate of the West, either in Europe or North America. I am no historian, I’m a priest; I live in the present with the eternal. What I have learned is simple: At the end of the day, humans are at a loss except for those who believe and live right and encourage each other to be truthful and patient. (Surah 103) Somewhere in all this there is hope.