27 Ramadan 1441
Last night was the 27th night of Ramadan.
A lot of Muslims believe the 27th night is Laylatul Qadr — the night of power, better than a thousand months, when Gabriel and all the angels descend and roam the earthly realm visiting those who keep the night alive in worship until the break of dawn.
On the 27th night, my cozy nerdy midnight Qur’an reading group #ganggang completed reciting the 28th juz. The juz begins with the chapter Al-Mujadilah, She Who Disputes, named after a woman, Khawlah bint Tha’labah, who lodged a complaint before God and the Prophet about her husband Aws ibn al-Samit, and God heard her.
As I was swimming along elated we made it this far and nearing the end of the juz, I made a mistake and skipped a page, throwing everyone off.
When I thought I came to the end of the chapter al-Taghabun, Mutual Dispossession, I paused and heard a friend trying to get my attention. She said I may have skipped something because everyone else following along was suddenly lost. We retraced my steps, went back to the beginning of al-Taghabun, and I recited again.
I skipped a page that included the first half of al-Talaq—the chapter on divorce.
And as I read on, I found myself floored twice about what I had missed.
First, the realization that I had skipped al-Talaq made me more powerfully aware that the 28th juz begins with al-Mujadilah, a woman whose complaint was heard by God.
But she was not just heard. She was offered a way out.
Second, I realized that I also skipped the following:
وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا
Whoever is mindful of God, (God) will provide a way out.
وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ
And (God) will provide from a place unexpected.
I never thought deeply about the location of these verse fragments beyond the comfort of its general meaning. I’ve heard others cite them before. I’ve read them before. I’ve seen them memed and tweeted before.
But when I read them last night, I found the subtlety of compassion located in a chapter on divorce powerful.
The makhraj–or way out–could be the untying of well-wrought, tangled knots of injustice in which an oppressor is unaware of your path of liberation and so does not invest time and effort in constructing more means of punishment, retaliation, and exploitation.
The makhraj could be a release from the prison of anxiety, self-doubt, and humiliation brought about by the psychic pain of rejection, neglect, isolation, and emotional deprivation.
The makhraj could be unfollowing everyone on social media to get out of an algorithm that says you are very interested in hand-held laser hair removal products and vacant luxury apartments in Manhattan starting at $3000 USD.
The makhraj could be the pages and verses and words right in front of you that you might easily skip over with the flick of a finger.
The makhraj is not always a grand gesture.
Or the makhraj could be freedom from the fire burning the world to the ground.