I apologize for going missing for so long. I had a worsening of my chronic fatigue condition in early 2020 that made it impossible for me to write, or to even sit at my computer to do any kind of work or even casual browsing of websites I used to enjoy.
Now that I’m feeling healthy, it’s quite difficult to empathize with my former self who couldn’t even get out a sentence. How is it possible not to be able to write a single sentence?
It seems that I might be able to start doing my usual work again; writing articles and essays, answering questions and verifying hadiths. But it may still be too early to tell.
I have updated the site to require an account to comment to reduce spam and low-effort comments. InshaAllah I will also consider adding social login.
The most important breakthrough in recovering from my “chronic fatigue” (I’m not sure if it is the same as the famous chronic fatigue condition, but the condition has been chronic and it has involved extreme fatigue) was taking the psychological route of treatment. Learning about attachment theory provided me with the key I needed, and after months of thinking and experimenting I have been able to reorganize my mind, so to speak, in a way that allows me to be motivated and energetic again. I only really grasped the power of human psychology when after succeeding in feeling energetic and motivated I would slip into the old mindsets and instantly my muscles would weaken, my breathing would get shallow and I would again feel too tired to work at a computer.
But another breakthrough in the last few weeks has been elderberry extract. This is perhaps the strongest anti-viral supplement there is. In my teens I became ill with something that gave me a sore throat that has never gone away (it seems the same happened to Dostoevsky), and it seems that part of chronic fatigue is a viral infection, perhaps EBV. This is a virus that almost everyone in the world carries, but in the majority it causes no symptoms.
To the right is the brand of elderberry extract I’m using. I have to take multiple tablespoons throughout the day. I’m also taking iodide (up to 12.5 mg a day), although I’m not sure yet if it’s needed. I’m also taking other things. Feel free to email me for more details (email@example.com), I’m happy if I can help anyone’s condition get better.
Alhamdulillah in June 2020 I had recovered enough to start reading again, and since then I have done a great deal of it. I was able to read thirty books by C. S. Lewis and such important classics as Moby Dick (I actually read it twice!) and War and Peace.
I even read Josef van Ess’s 4-volume Theology and Society in the Second and Third Centuries of the Hijra, a book every Islamic studies researcher wants to have read but finds too daunting to start. What an amazing book! In it you can read about Islam before it became the Islam we recognize today; before the 4 madhhabs were founded and almost every great scholar was his own “sect”, with various ideas and beliefs floating around among the most knowledgeable and pious scholars that today would be considered heretical.
But you may be happy to learn that I remain as dedicated to mainstream orthodox Islam as always. That 4-volume book might seem to be filled with weapons to attack today’s Islam and cause doubt among Muslims, but a well-read Islamic studies researcher will have already known before reading this book that that is how Islam was at the beginning and that that history is nothing to be ashamed about.
I read The Kindness of Enemies, a novel that I really, really liked (though the modern-day chapters not so much, perhaps due to not being a Western-raised Muslim immigrant myself like the heroine is). The novel alternates between modern-day chapters and historical chapters about Imam Shamil (a Chechen “freedom fighter” of the 1850’s, fighting against the Russian Empire). In one of those odd coincidences, I soon read Tolstoy’s The Cossacks, a novel about the conflict from a Russian soldier’s perspective.
The author’s treatment of Imam Shamil is extremely remarkable: here’s a woman writing about a man and his psychology with better understanding and empathy than the average male writer (reminding me of Edith Wharton); here’s a Muslim author writing about a hero of Islamic history without any melodrama or exaggeration (as far as I could tell), showing us the hero as merely a man, though a great man still. This is a breath of fresh air if you compare it to the typical stories about historical Muslim personalities found everywhere on Islamic sites. And here’s a Muslim author writing about the experiences of a non-Muslim Georgian princess with love and empathy.
I am hopeful that these remarkable features will soon stop being remarkable by becoming commonplace among Muslim writers and intellectuals, especially those living in the West.
That’s it for now. InshaAllah you will hear more from me.