Photo Credit: Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘 on Flickr Photo Caption: Eid-al-Fitr prayers in Egypt Flickr Link:

A letter to my son for Ramadan

Dear Imran,

Assalam alaikum. For Ramadan, I wanted to send you an inspirational story about Prophet Noah. As I worked on it, I came to a concerning realization, and since you are my first child, I wanted to make you aware of this quandary: the prayer quotient differential (PQD).

Photo Credit: Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘 on Flickr Photo Caption: Eid-al-Fitr prayers in Egypt Flickr Link:
Photo Credit: Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘 on Flickr
Photo Caption: Eid-al-Fitr prayers in Egypt
Flickr Link:

The Quran states that Prophet Noah lived to be 950 years old (29:14). Even if he slacked off until 50, that’s 1,604,900 prayers in a lifetime. That doesn’t include the thousands of Janazah and Eid prayers he performed during his near millennium of living. You, young Imran, on the other hand, will probably perform 136,781 prayers if you live to the age of 89, as predicted by the U.S. census. Do you see the problem? That short time will give you a PQD of only 0.085. We can presume that Prophet Noah’s longevity was a family trait. A clan that lives for hundreds of years has a lot of time to have kids who will also live to 900. I get the feeling there are going to be a lot of Muslims with PQDs much higher than yours. Even converts who waited until they were 800 to become Muslim are going to embarrass you.

I know Allah is merciful, but you are going to look pretty pathetic with your 0.085 PQD standing there next to Big N’s clan. So, unless you are going to cure cancer or global warming, we need a strategy to fix your PQD. If your mother gets to heaven and you aren’t there, she is going to be really mad. Luckily for you, I have a plan.

It is reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari, narrated by Abu Ad-Dardaa’, that the Prophet said, ‘The prayer in my mosque (Al-Madeenah mosque) is better than one thousand prayers in any other mosque with the exception of Al-Haraam mosque, and a prayer in Al-Haraam mosque is better than 100,000 prayers.” That means 16 obligatory prayers at the Kaaba will take care of the gap.

If you don’t feel comfortable travelling to Mecca by yourself, there’s a plan B. From Sahih Muslim, narrated at Tirmidhi, “Whoever prays, after Maghrib, 6 rakat without talking of anything indecent in between them, it would be equivalent to 12 years of worship for him.” This will take no more than two months worth of maghrib prayers. My bigger concern is the indecent talking clause. Middle school has not been a positive boost to your vocabulary.

So, just in case, I put together a plan C. Surah Al-Qadr reveals that Lailatul Qadr is “better than a thousand months,” (97:3). This one night surpasses the value of the nights of 1000 months, or slightly over 83 years. You will need about 11 Lailatul Qadrs to pull this off. Since there’s no consensus on which night in Ramadan is the real deal, it’s a bit of the gamble. The big money is on night 27. Theoretically, though, it could be almost any night in Ramadan. It would be a bummer to invest all the time and still come up short.

It’s possible we are going about this the wrong way. Instead of trying to get the PQD to Prophet Noah level, we should concentrate on the late bloomers who converted at 800 or even 700. Once you’re in the middle of the pack, just keep your head down go with the flow.

So as you can see, dear Imran, there may still be time to rectify this. The key is in the fine print, and I’ll keep looking for extra credit projects. Also, I don’t think we should advertise these points; the less competition, the better. Ramadan Mubarak.

Love Dad.

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    Aamir Siddiqui

    Aamir Siddiqui is a physician living and practicing in Detroit Michigan.

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