January 5, 2015
There are three classifications of twilight:
“We have twilight because Earth has an atmosphere. Some light scatters through small particles in the atmosphere – so there’s still some light in the sky even after the sun has gone down.” 
It starts as soon as the sun dips below the western horizon. There’s enough light to see, but people turn on their lights to drive a car, and the streetlights are starting to come on. Civil twilight officially ends when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon.
‘Several countries use this definition of civil twilight and civil dawn to make laws related to aviation, hunting, and the usage of headlights and street lamps.
In the United Kingdom, the time when everyone has to switch on their headlights is known as hours of darkness, which is 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset.’ )
It begins when it’s fairly dark outside. By definition, nautical twilight ends when a distant line of a sea horizon stops being visible against the background of the sky – about when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. And even then some people still call it twilight.
‘The term, nautical twilight, dates back to the time when sailors used the stars to navigate the seas. During this time, observers on Earth can easily see most stars.’ )
It ends when all traces of sky glow are gone. By definition, astronomical twilight ends when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. Then astronomers can begin to observe the stars, assuming no clouds are in the way!” 
‘It is that point in time at which the sun starts lightening the sky. Prior to this time during the morning, the sky is completely dark. During the evening, this is the point where the sky completely turns dark.’ 
When Jon Stewart took a leave of absence last summer for a few months, for some reason I didn’t inquire why. Not being a routine watcher of The Daily Show, it didn’t affect my nightly schedule at all. But then came Fall of this year and the name Rosewater was not circulating in a buzz, but rather being mentioned delicately here and there, like incipient raindrops.
In my own circle of consorts, a little bit of a murmur rose up as trailers and reviews starting emerging, and the question didn’t take long to surface: Is this film getting attention because Jon Stewart made it?
Well, perhaps. But that’s okay.
Before that question comes another though: why would a popular late-show host like Jon Stewart all of a sudden make a film? At first it may sound sensationalist, this endeavour of his, but the film cures the misconception.
I went in not knowing much about its background story. I learned that it was based on a memoir and that part of the reason he made it was because a segment from his show was used as evidence toward the young man who was arrested as a suspect. And he felt responsibility to continue the efforts to bring attention to the incident.
And that’s where I think the film deserves attention, because it is Jon Stewart. My boss recommended a book to me months ago called Snow Drops, and mentioned how tightly it’s written, specifically because it was written by a journalist. Similarly, Jon Stewart is a television personality, but he’s also a witty, intellectual, and one of the few celebrities to take a stand on certain current affairs of the world. So if he’s making a film, I’m interested in what he has to say and how he says it.
Not to paint things in sugar, but I do think it was a great undertaking. Hundreds of films have been made about these kind of topics, often in the same country at hand, but there was something new and refreshing. He made some great decisions in showing positives in the film, in the score that was chosen, in the beautiful way the film began, in the omission of visual violence and torture, in the inclusion of a very unique wit to the film, in carefully purging common stereotypes that come while depicting other regions of the world.
The other reason that it’s okay if this movie gets attention because “Jon Stewart” made it is because he’s already well-known, without a reason to fish out new ways to gain popularity. The fact that he left his already successful show to do this speaks of individuality, taking a chance, stepping out of your routine and listening to your heart.
With the start of the new year, I’m initiating a learning log. I want to record at least one thing I’ve learned each day, or as many days as possible.
January 1, 2015
I had always read, seen, heard that sujood (prostration) is not permitted after the ‘Asr prayer until sunset and not after the Fajr prayer until sunrise. Consequently, I was exposed to a number of different rulings. Some people said one can pray until 10 minutes before, some said 15. Some said half an hour before and some said when the sunlight can still be seen on walls (for ‘Asr that is). My rule of thumb had become that you have to pray up until 10 minutes before. At home if someone was late in praying ‘Asr, they would be told: “No it’s too late for it now, you’ll have to make it up after Maghrib.”
It was such a strong ruling in my mind, and it wasn’t until today when I related the same to someone who was late to pray ‘Asr, that they made me realize this ruling may just be my interpretation. And I thought: wait, who am I to question what Allah will accept or not accept? How can I stop someone from praying when I’m not the one to prescribe or accept that prayer. Though I didn’t intend to be imperious in my admonition, it was a very sharp reminder that most things are not black and white, least of those being our own knowledge.
After reading a little bit I found ahadith in opposition to what I had been thinking was so set in stone:
The impression I was under was not wrong. Much evidence supports the notion that ‘Asr should be prayed as early as possible and not intentionally delayed. However if someone hasn’t intentionally delayed and has no choice but to pray in the last few minutes, then we have no authority to stop them.
Wallahu alam, Allah is the Most Merciful.