let me say at the start, I celebrate what you may not and I do not celebrate what you may.

قَالَ عِيسَى ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ ٱللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَآ أَنزِلْ عَلَيْنَا مَآئِدَةًۭ مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ تَكُونُ لَنَا عِيدًۭا لِّأَوَّلِنَا وَءَاخِرِنَا وَءَايَةًۭ مِّنكَ ۖ وَٱرْزُقْنَا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلرَّٰزِقِينَ

Said Jesus, the son of Mary: ‘O God, our Sustainer! Send down upon us a spread from the sky that it be ever-recurring for us – for the first and the last of us -and a sign from you. And provide us sustenance, for you ar the best of providers!’

What never ends, cannot recur. What ends and appears again does not really end – it can mark the end of a real and permanent ending/death.

What I find before me of sustenance and the life that this sustenance supports seems to end. As a mean ends, so a day ends and my life seems to be a series of deaths. Life that is ending is no life at all. Sustenance that fails to sustain me against death is no sustenance at all.

If I can see my sustenance, and therefore life, as recurring, I can read this as a sign that there is sustenance after the end of sustenance, there is life given me to ‘again and again’ after life seems to end. If I can see sustenance and life ending but appearing again, i can see this as a sign that it is being given not once, but again and again and again. This recurring sustenance is from a sustainer with whom my sustenance is secure, with whom my life is secure in a way that is no longer threatened by a permanent death. It is the end of death. When life is recurrently received from the One who gives it to me not once but in a recurring fashion, I can say that death is finished. I can say that this One is the better or most excellent sustainer.

It is the end of real death, manifest in the recurrence of sustenance/life (if I can see life as such), that makes each death and the corresponding recurrence of sustenance/life a matter of joy and celebration. Recurrence, as a sign to permanent sustenance, if witnessed, is itself celebration and joy whenever I do witness it.

And then there is the “eid” for which I get a message from my Pakistani cousin, living in Texas, with the words “Eid Kareem” and “Eid Mubarak” accompanied by a picture of her two cute sons dressed in Saudi royal robes..and i think to myself, what generosity or blessedness am I to find there?

And I am flooded with eid greetings of all kinds that still leave me dead and dying – nothing about them is a celebration of the end of death. and so i cannot celebrate what i do not understand and i can only invite others to celebrate what i find worth celebrating..which for me is not tied to any pre-designated Arabic calendar month or day of festival.

happy recurrence to whoever sees in it the sign of a real, undying sustainer.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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