Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Internal Feast of Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak! (a blessed Ramadan) or
Ramadan Kareem! (a generous Ramadan)

For one month out of the year and from sun up to sun down, Muslims commit to not eat or drink, to give up certain indulgences like alcohol or smoking and to not make love (only during the day, remember! ;) and its all in celebration of Allah ( one man's "Allah" is another man's "God"...same thing)

"God gives us 11 months out of the year, so I think I can give him one" said Ahmed, the Jordanian bodega chef where I buy my hummus and pickles.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and the most sacred of the twelve months. The name Ramadan derives from the Arabic word for 'intense heat' and 'sun-scorched ground'. Which is pretty timely for this summers extreme heat waves around the globe.

There are other significant and magical reasons Muslims celebrate Ramadan.
Some say it scorches out evil like the sun scorches the earth and also just as heat shapes and influences all matter —  so does Ramadan shape and influence the believer  (the believer of God- one God, remember?)

The first day of Ramadan- which is today August 11th is said to be the first day the Qu'ran (the Holy Book of Islam) was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him).
"The month of Ramadan is that in which the Koran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days... (sura 2.185, known as The Cow) "

Ramadan is also meant to encourage Muslims to feel and empathize with those who are poor, hungry and homeless and entices all to help the less fortunate and to give to charity.

Pretty Sweet!

There are many historic, spiritual and practical levels of the Ramadan fast which include:
  • refraining from the physical senses (performed with the mouth/stomach/sexual organs)
  • restraining oneself from saying, hearing and looking at negative things
  • renewing one's devotion to God
Before the sun rises, most Muslim's have a nice meal called 
suhoor . Suhoor typically tends to be heavy and is highly regarded by Islamic traditions to benefit of the blessings and avoid crankiness or weakness caused by the fast.

When I was in the Middle East, breakfast was the absolute best meal of the day...consisting of eggs, cheese, dates, pita, mankoushe (lebanese pizza), tea, coffee, juice, fruits and more...

And as soon as the sun sets, its time for iftar, the evening meal often eaten communally.
To break the fast, one eats soft moist and sweet dates. Delicious!

Many of the attributes in celebrating Ramadan remind me of Lent in the Christian Faith, representing the 40 days Christ was in the desert before teaching his sermons.
So with my adoration of cultural traditions, I am going to create my own celebration of Ramadan, to deepen my devotion to the Almight, to appreciate my senses, to go with in and to experience going with out... so I am giving up food for one day of the week until Sept. 9th, when Ramadan is over.
This will be my participation in the holy month of Ramadan. Mash'allah! (Arabic phrase used to show joy and praise)

What things come to mind that you could give up for a month and do you think you could fast during the day for one month...a pretty dificult task but millions do it every year and for hundreds of years?

Isn't it interesting to see how others celebrate the divine? I sure think so!


Mace Cluster said...

You've a lot of knowledge about Ramadan and fasting and i appreciate your knowledge and your interest in Religions.

milton berry said...

This is very informative and done in good grammar and easy enough for the less to understand .
Do you have he same thirst for knowledge in other faiths?
I enjoyed the article.