Ramadan, in the Muslim faith, is a period of fasting from sunrise to sunset during a month. No food, no water, even in summer. I am not Muslim, nor do I know a lot about the religion, but I have a few Muslim friends and I see their devotion and self control as they go through this month. What’s more they do it with true joy and dedication, it is a sacrifice yes, but it brings them happiness.
This go me thinking about two things: the principle of self control, and my own prejudices regarding Muslims.
First, I find Ramadan, an example of self control which motivates to transcend the body and learn that we are not our body. In yoga, such principles also exist, and fasting is regarded as a spiritual activity. How often do we let the body dictate our mood? I know I do… These are some of the conversations in my head almost everyday: I’m tired today so I’m unhappy, I’m cold, I’m hungry, I’m too hot, I’m sleepy so I cannot focus on work, and my favorite one my back/neck/bones/joints/stomach aches… poor little me…As I see my Muslim friends go through Ramadan, without complaining, and with a smile on their faces, I wonder at the wisdom of such a custom. We live in a non-religious country, they don’t ‘have’ to follow Ramadan, no one would know/care here if they drink water or eat something throughout the day. Yet, they stick to it through the long days of summer. It is truly admirable.
Second, this has made me re-evaluate my own prejudices regarding Muslims. Sure, I don’t like how they treat women, and that is not changing, nor do I like the mixing of state and spirituality to the point of it being a law. Nor the fanaticism that drives to the point of murder, (but I believe that that is more political than religious). These things I don’t like about the Muslim religion. These things have clouded my vision about it, I have not been able to see beyond that and appreciate the deep faith and devotion with which they live their lives. I’m not talking about heads of state or fighting militia somewhere in the mountains, I’m talking about the average people who just go on their daily lives. This daily devotion, I have learned through my Muslim friends. And although I take personal offense when I see a woman with a covered head in a business meeting, I have to admire their devotion and courage to be different in a society that does not endorse them. However their human warmth, their easy smiles, their willingness to always share their food, and their quiet dedication to spirituality is truly an example of faith.
So, here a little shifting of my views with respect to the Muslim faith. I would like to learn more about their spirituality. I like that a veil of prejudice is finally lifting from me, thanks to a few good people who live their lives in an admirable way. It is hard to admit that I’ve been prejudiced and intolerant, but I feel it is a sign that my heart is opening when I am ready to admit it. To all those following Ramadan, my respect goes out to you, you are truly an inspiration.