“The Joy of Fasting”: A Ramadan Poem by Baraka

“The Joy of Fasting”: A Ramadan Poem by Baraka August 12, 2011

Ramadan posts by Baraka

(Rickshaw Diarieswww.rickshawdiaries.wordpress.com)

The Joy of Fasting

“Ramadan has come to live with us.
It is God’s private apartments
moved into our house
and taking over.

Where the doors were
are now entranceways into His Garden.

Where windows were are
continuous waterfalls. Abundance in the

dryness. Hidden in the dust:
clusters of roses. Sprung from our
footsteps: ascents.”

– Excerpt from “Ramadan House Guest” by Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

I am unable to cherish anything until it is too late; it’s not until something (or someone) is lost that I realize its worth.

So it was with Ramadan. I fasted in a perfunctory way until I was 19 under the tutelage of my family in Pakistan. But later, during college in Massachusetts, I struggled with waking up to cafeteria salads alone in the night. As my faith dwindled so did my fasts; aside from a token few, I consciously chose not to fast for nearly a decade.

When I started practicing again ten years ago, I picked up fasting too, but it was a chore to get up, to force myself to eat before stumbling back into bed for a brief, bloated sleep before dragging myself into work. I didn’t grumble verbally, but spiritually I most certainly did.

And then I was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition and fasting was no longer an option.

It was then, of course, that I began to fall in love with God and to finally realize how dear each fast is, how precious each Ramadan is. The thought of all those Ramadans that I had voluntarily let slip away horrified me. Every time I read stories of the sahaba and others who fasted well into old age and infirmity because they understood that each fast was a priceless gift, it made me cringe at my own stupidity.

I tried to fast but repeatedly weakened into illness and gave up, feeling with self-pity that now my fasts were not acceptable to God. Unable to participate, I envied all those who fasted easily and who sometimes even complained about the ritual, not realizing how I, salivating with my nose pressed to the glass, watched them feast inside on a spiritual banquet I was barred from.

But perhaps all things do happen for a reason. The Creator of my nature knew that I would not realize the worth of the fast until it was taken from me.

Finally, after years of watching and waiting for the return of a sufficient measure of health, I am fasting, by God’s grace. And I am ridiculously happy, overjoyed as only those who have known spiritual infertility and deep longing can be when the gift of new life is placed gently in their adoring arms.

In the glorious pre-dawn I wake up giddy and singing. I have a crazy-happy grin on my face as I float around town, greeting neighbors, bus drivers and all who cross my path with such joy that they can do nothing but respond in bemused kind. Everything is illuminated, spilling over with the ecstasy of fasting, with the mercy of my sweet Lord.

The Beloved has called me to fast and given me the voice to answer, subhanAllah.

Each moment of fasting, we are sealed vessels filling slowly more with the sacred nectar of God. Each morning and evening, I adorn myself with another more-precious-than-jewels fast for You alone.



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