The Patheos Muslim Channel editor, Dilshad Ali, asked the Patheos bloggers if any of the non-Muslim bloggers would be interested in participating in the Ramadan fast. The goal of this experiment is to facilitate a better understanding of Muslim practice, and for others to learn something about another faith tradition. Since I do not consider myself a part of any particular faith tradition, and I am not active in any one religion, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to learn about the Islamic tradition and practices.
While I am not fasting throughout the entire month of Ramadan (they are on the 11th day currently), I am planning to fast for a full week, starting tomorrow. I’ve never done anything like this, so I’m looking forward to walking in Muslim shoes for a week.
I’ve already learned quite a bit, even if it barely brushes the surface. I had a conversation with Rabia Chaudry, who blogs over at altmuslim. She is my mentor through this process, and she did a nice job of giving me a brief overview of Islam and the fasting tradition.
Very briefly, Ramadan falls during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and they follow the lunar calendar. Observance of Ramadan is mandated in the Qur’an, and it is one of the five pillars of Islam. The fast is meant to emphasize self-sacrifice as well as help practitioners to empathize with the hungry. It is an opportunity for spiritual focus and growth, and a time to focus on bettering yourself.
So, here is my fasting “plan,” which will carry me through the next week:
1. No food, water, or sexual relations from sunrise to sunset. So, lucky me, I chose to experience the fast during some of the longest, and hottest, days of the year! Sunrise here in Denver is approximately 5:49AM, so I am planning to wake up around 5 to eat my pre-fasting meal (Suhur). Sunset here right now is about 8:25PM, so I will be eating my evening meal (Iftar) after that.
2. Prayer/Meditation. Muslims are supposed to pray 5 times daily, and during Ramadan there should be a deeper focus on the prayer. I don’t pray regularly, or even at all, actually. Any time I “pray” I consider it more of a meditation or reflection than an actual prayer. So, I will take the time before my morning meal and before my evening meal to reflect and meditate. I will also be doing this mid-morning, mid-day, and mid-afternoon. Since I won’t be eating lunch or snacking, I should have plenty of extra time for this.
My biggest concern and fear while fasting will be getting enough water. Since moving to Colorado I have struggled to stay hydrated on a normal day, so hydrating while fasting will be extra challenging for me. I will be buying some foods that are high in water content to enjoy during my meals, and will be focusing on drinking more than normal with my meals.
With that little announcement out, I will officially say “Ramadan Mubarak!”
Some Ramadan resources, if you’re interested:
Ramadan FAQ: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/ramadan-top-ten_n_1676639.html?ref=topbar
Ramadan Cheat Sheet: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/altmuslimah/post/ramadan-cheat-sheet/2012/07/19/gJQAJ9tywW_blog.html
How to be a non-Muslim in Ramadan: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/ramadan-etiquette-guide-how-to-be-a-non-muslim-during-the-holy-month/2012/07/18/gJQARfp9tW_blog.html?socialreader_check=0&denied=1
Ramadan Reflections: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-khalid-latif/
Interfaith Ramadan Project: http://saritaagerman.blogspot.com/p/coming-soon-interfaith-ramadan-series.html