Time and Muslim practice – Islamic newspaper

Photo: Odua Imahes, Adobe Stock

(iz). For believers, Ramadan is the spiritual highlight of the year. In the holy month, one understands the existence and at the same time the meaning of the time for the Muslims. The experience of fasting together points to the existential, collective, and cosmological references of practice. On the subjective level, those who fast experience the duration of their fasting period in different ways, while the beginning and end of Ramadan are determined together. The accompanying view of the moon reminds Muslims of the fascinating, cosmological constellations to which their lives are attached.

The phenomenon of Lent shows that the management of Lent is under political or scientifically motivated pressure for change. Declaring Ramadan is without a doubt an act of authority. In the modern age, according to the sociologist Bourdieu, the state shows its power by determining and changing people’s “calendars, units of measurement and curriculum”.

The sight of the moon is still subject to the prevailing understanding of scientific knowledge. Every year, Muslims quarrel over the correct terms to determine the beginning of that month. According to classical interpretation, this requires observation of the new moon at the respective place, confirmation of the sensory perception of witnesses and proclamation of a legitimate authority. This locally oriented practice is still practiced in countries such as Morocco or South Africa.

In recent years, there has been a scientifically based meaning that uses abstract mathematical calculations to determine the beginning of Ramadan in Europe. This method, because it omits the human factor, claims to eliminate arbitrary results of the screening. There is also another advantage or disadvantage, depending on your opinion. The festivities around the end of Shrovetide are no longer announced on the day in question, but can be planned years in advance.

The discussions of the procedure point to the fundamental difference between subjective sensory perception and the ideal of scientific abstraction. Basically, this is about epistemology. A topic that has preoccupied scientists and philosophers since Goethe. For the poet, observing and reflecting on what was observed was always seen as a unit. As you know, he rejected technical devices for the purpose of experimental knowledge, which slips between seeing and judging. “Basically, the only instruments he allowed were the sensory organs. Goethe remained convinced that the meaning of nature could only be understood in a sensory way,” writes Rüdiger Görner of the intellectual morphology of the Weimar poet-prince.

That we Muslims no longer consider it necessary to regard the moon with our own God-given senses – where the now abstract calculation on screens replaces the immediate amazement at the wonders of creation – is no marginal matter. The philosopher Hannah Arendt criticized the renunciation of sensory perception in favor of abstract models in her book “Vita activa” as a form of modern alienation from the world. The philosopher does not accept the accuracy, which seems to be the advantage of the purely scientifically obtained knowledge: “But the suspicion will soon arise that our results, precisely because of their fantastic coherence, neither correspond to macrocosm nor microcosm have at least to do that they rather agrees with the rules and structures that characterize ourselves and our cognitive abilities, namely the faculty that invented the apparatus and instruments – in that case, it is really as if an evil spirit thwarts human efforts to know and to experience precisely. , what he himself is not, and to do so in such a way that he only always shows him his own reflection under the pretext of showing him the immense realms of being. “

Whatever position one takes on this particular debate, there is no doubt that modernity has long since altered the original, natural embedding of human practice in time in various respects. The Faustian, as Goethe brought it into the consciousness of the Germans, is characterized by a time regime, a new pace, caused by human impatience and the increase in the speed of all everyday processes. Although prayer times can now be calculated mathematically accurately, they compete with working hours and daily routines, which are dominated by planning and predictability.

The spiritual experience of unity of all being at certain times of the day and night shapes the life experience of the Muslims. Freedom, or the ability to interrupt one’s activity to pray, is today more of a privilege. In his travelogues, Roger Willemsen reported on meetings with Muslims from Afghanistan. They commented smiling on the author’s wristwatch with the words: “You are right, we have time.” It should not be forgotten that the possibility of thinking of a cosmological order in the primordial model only became common in the fourteenth century. .

In addition to the questions of practice, a new trend is emerging in Muslim reflections to redefine the relationship to nature and creation. It is important to realize that the more abstract a religion is lived, the weaker its binding force. To grasp the meaning of existence and one’s own practice is directly related to the experience of the temporal dimension. “Dasein does not exist in time, it is temporal,” explains the philosopher Martin Heidegger. This means that our lives are not primarily determined by an external time, but bring with them temporality as something that belongs.

The measured duration conveys only incompletely the secret of existence. The meaning of life can only be understood in its meaning from the existential perspective. Or put another way, in the words of Isidore of Seville (623): “Time is not to be understood as such, but only through human actions.”

Being to death, the awareness of one’s own finitude, sets the crucial parameters and corresponds to the insight of wasting as little time as possible. Optimizing longevity and increasing the efficiency of one’s own performance are important ideals today, while idle and wasted time are frowned upon. But how to live a fulfilled life here and now remains an open question, just think of the widespread disease depression. Heidegger saw the experience of emptiness, of nothingness, at the peak of the torment of boredom, not only as meaningless, negative basic moods in modernity. He understood them in the sense of elementary, necessary experiences of one’s own temporality, and connected it with the call to use the time between life and death as sensibly as possible. In addition to working life and the pursuit of profit, the pursuit of one’s own spiritual salvation, Muslim practice includes commitment to the community and care for others.

The common discourse on the “turn of the times”, which characterizes the political discourse, is the template for new contemporary issues today. In light of the dramatic situation, one may ask oneself whether people are not facing a wall of time and whether the crises of our era herald the end of time at all. The mix of climate disasters, war threats and inflation is reminiscent of old ideas of an impending apocalypse and culminates in doubts about whether people still have time. One key to resolving these issues is to return to our social, not just individual, responsibilities. The proclaimed maxim of practicing less consumption and more renunciation promotes the idea of ​​bringing one’s own life and collective destiny into a new harmony.

Islam is ultimately a set of rules that contextualize personal and collective, spiritual and material needs. Adherence to social and economic laws results in the extent and ultimately the context of meaning of Islamic practice in our present. Time saving, in futures trading, stock trading every second, speculation about the future characterizes our economic life to this day.

In this context, the fundamental economic and at the same time ethical question arises as to whether lots of money can be artificially created and allowed to operate for a limited period without remuneration. The dynamics of debt and the question of interest rates indicate the fundamental problems of our time. So far, politicians have followed the plan to fight major crises with more and more money. It is true what a medieval poet, Oswald von Wolkenstein, sang about life: “What use are the most beautiful plans if God no longer gives time to realize them?”

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