On four of these nights, I went for 10 kilometer bike rides at 5 AM; on two of them, I fasted a full roza, dawn to sunset. I read the Quran—the MAS Abdel Haleem translation— every night and while travelling on the Metro. I also didn’t masturbate, watch porn, or read erotica.
The giving up of daily habits—some dating back decades—was surprisingly easy. It helped being quite tired by waking up early for fajr and sleeping late. The phone-alarm helped immensely with keeping track. I didn’t feel particularly connected to God while doing it. But I continued because I am theoretically convinced about the efficacy and necessity of ritual. I had signed up for it before I knew I was going to be religious this Ramadan. Going to Goa meant getting on a plane: hence, travelling. I was going to drink, smoke, and whatever else came my way. It would it be a good break after nine days of piety.
I overdid it the first night and collapsed from dehydration while we were out for dinner. The next evening, after staying well-hydrated during the day, I took MDMA with everyone else. We were poolside in a beautiful private villa, a DJ was playing eclectic music through a really good sound system, the sun was setting. With a calmness, precision and certainty that were central to the elation running through my body like electricity, I got up and went into my room. Never had my niyat (intention) to do namaz been so strong and clear, never had it meshed so closely with the coolness of water splashing on my skin. And when I began the prayers, every part of my body knew exactly what to do, words and gestures synchronised with elegance, with every sajda my bones sang a hamd (praise) to Allah. For the first time in my life, I was talking to God. I did not see God, but I prayed as if he could hear every word I said. I had no extraordinary or supernatural experience in those moments. Just the profound rightness of talking to him, and the overwhelming love and care I felt for all of those whose wellbeing I asked him to ensure. My du’as were webs of light, the expanding awareness of how my life was connected to and blessed by the lives of others. I re-joined the party and danced for several more hours, with a break for Isha prayers. I had deep and empathetic conversations with others present. All of this I am sure can be attributed to the effects of the MDMA on brain chemistry. Some classify it as an entheogen, a substance which can induce profound spiritual experiences. But what happened with the namaz was something else. I’ve taken MDMA once before, and it wasn’t even close. It was, I believe, the discipline of the daily prayers and the fasting that had prepared me for the power of this experience. VICE India in no way endorses the illegal usage of bhang or other narcotics.
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