This post was written by guest contributor @leftyspeaks.
Many of us wish for a new beginning, a clean slate, an opportunity to leave everything behind and start afresh. A few short weeks ago, I left my home on the southern tip of Africa, to spread my wings across the Atlantic, in search of knowledge. I left behind all that was dear to me – the beautiful sunrises, the extravagant Table Mountain, my family and friends, and my African coffee – to plant roots in the “high rise” habitat that is called Toronto – a first world metropole. It quickly became apparent that, despite the warm and ever-friendly Canadian hospitality, I would be a stranger among the 2,79 million people who walk this city, until such time as I made a new life: new relationships, new discoveries, and new coffee. However, within a week of me arriving, so did the first fast – all 17 hours of it! It was during my first iftar that I realised the challenge that lay out ahead of me.
Many of us often take for granted the privilege of family and friends that make up our inner circle, the bonds that give us support and make us feel complete, significant and valuable – this reality that no being is an island. Ramadan is a time for giving, the occasion when we feel closer to our loved ones, more compassionate to the needy and the sick and generally, a time when we express more humanity. It’s only natural that during this time, we crave the human bonds that comfort us.
So, “fasting on arrival,” a phrase I coined early into Ramadan, was quite different to the previous years. What did it mean to be in relative isolation, far from my close connections and the comforts of home? I spent time in “quest,” asking Allah: why here; why like this; why so long; why so hot; why so far from those who give me comfort and joy; why alone? [Read more...]