If you scroll social media, read the plethora of Ramadan pieces out there or even spend time talking with fellow fasting Muslims, the majority of what you hear about the fasting experience is positive – yes, it’s hard, but Alhumdullilah (thanks be to God), it is going well. You’ll hear jokes for sure about the difficulties of getting up for suhoor (the pre-dawn, pre-fasting) meal or the mundane difficulties of fasting. (Ramadan breath anyone?)
We Muslims also share a lot of quotes from the Quran and hadith or uplifting lectures from imams and scholars. We encourage each other to give, give, give to so many worthy causes. We spur each other on with reminders to make the most of the month, worship more, attend tarawih prayers, cut out the extraneous activities from our lives and turn inward towards Allah.
And behind the screens of our smartphones and computers, in our homes and in the daily activities of our real lives, we fast and pray and work and care for our families and zone out and cook and maybe watch a little Food Network, when that’s probably the worst thing to watch when you’re fasting. Sometimes we achieve that higher level of God-consciousness that Ramadan is meant to be, and sometimes we just aren’t feeling it (though we continue to fast and pray).
I offer these reflections as a way to provide a dose of reality to what Ramadan is, what it can be and when it isn’t all we want it to be. But we Muslims keep coming back to it – year after year – many of us with renewed intentions to not just be more religious for one month, but to ride the waves to a better life throughout the year.
It was with these thoughts in mind and with the curiosity that poured forth every year about Ramadan from my fellow editors and bloggers in other Patheos faith channels, that I set up the Fasting Project – where I invited other Patheos (not Muslim) writers to fast with Muslim Channel writers for Ramadan. Three bloggers eagerly jumped at the chance to fast and learn more:
Sometimes you have to hear an outsider’s perspective to learn more about what is needed inside yourself.
Justin Whitaker from the Patheos Buddhist Channel:
Justin plans to fast three times in Ramadan.
Jamie Schwoerer from the Patheos Spirituality Channel:
Jamie’s intention was to fast for five days in a row. But after two and a half days, she stopped fasting, having learned several things about herself, about fasting, why Muslims do what they do and what it means for her.
Erik Campano from the Patheos News & Religion Channel:
Check back in the next week for Erik’s blogs, as he plans to fast near the end of July.