November 9th, 2002
Ramadan is upon us once again and brings with it a reminder of all the things I may usually dismiss at other times.
I was discussing this month with some work colleagues eager to learn more about the whens and whys. When do you have to get up? How long do you have to fast for? Why do you have to do it? You can’t even drink tea?!?! But it goes so much deeper than that.
Thankfully I was born and raised in Britain and all throughout school it was drummed into us that we must question everything. Never take anything at face value. My parents didn’t have the same luxury. When they were told to do something it was done and that was that. They are sometimes surprised, though glad, that their children don’t approach life in the same way. No blind faith here, we research and question. I believe that leads to a stronger faith.
I was ten, maybe eleven at the time when my Muslim friends around me were fasting for the first time. It was kiddy fasts, you know, they wanted to be just like their older brothers and sisters and inevitably I wanted to be just like them.
“If you don’t fast you go to hell,” one kid at school told me after I had told him my mother wouldn’t let me as I was too young.
With the bejesus scared out of me I approached my mother. I asked her the whens and the whys. She told me the basics, how it will help us build a sympathy for those in the world who are starving. I could understand that, I had seen the pictures of the children in Africa. I did get to fast the next year and I was awfully excited about it. It meant the family sitting together for meals for once. It meant gatherings at the local mosque where I met other Muslims my age.
It is only in later life that I understood that Ramadan is about all of those things and it is especially about self control. There are things that distract me from God in my day to day life, ones that I feel cannot be avoided. Or is that case? When Ramadan comes around, I can easily pull myself away from these things. If I can do it for this month why not always? Because I am human and I think it is all about moderation. Moderation in consumption and moderating your approach to others. This month helps me with these things and I hope I can carry them on afterwards.
I can’t do this topic the full justice it deserves but I am learning more each and every day. What does Ramadan mean to you?
Posted at 10:07 pm | 15 comments | Category: General