Festivals and fasts are unhinged, traveling backward at a rate of ten days per year, attached to no season. Even Laylat ul Qadr, the holiest night in Ramadan, drifts--its precise date is unknown. The iconclasm laid down by Muhammed was absolute: you must resist attachment not only to painted images, but to natural ones. Ramadan, Muharram, the Eids; you associate no religious event with the tang of snow in the air, or spring thaw, or the advent of summer. God permeates these things--as the saying goes, Allah is beautiful, and He loves beauty--but they are transient. Forced to concentrate on the eternal, you begin to see, or think you see, the bones and sinews of the world beneath its seasonal flesh. The sun and moon become formidable clockwork. They are transient also, but hint at the dark planes that stretch beyond the earth in every direction, full of stars and dust, toward a retreating, incomprehensible edge
In the pragmatist, streetwise climate of advanced postmodern capitalism, with its scepticism of big pictures and grand narratives, its hard-nosed disenchantment with the metaphysical, 'life' is one among a whole series of discredited totalities. We are invited to think small rather than big – ironically, at just the point when some of those out to destroy Western civilization are doing exactly the opposite. In the conflict between Western capitalism and radical Islam, a paucity of belief squares up to an excess of it. The West finds itself faced with a full-blooded metaphysical onslaught at just the historical point that it has, so to speak, philosophically disarmed. As far as belief goes, postmodernism prefers to travel light: it has beliefs, to be sure, but it does not have faith.