Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Start of Ramadan Prompts Me to Think about Fasting

The month of Ramadan begins today. Muslims celebrate Muhammad's encounter with the Divine in the desert and his receiving of the holy scripture that would become the Qur'an.

I've always admired the discipline of this month. In Christianity, at least in the moderate church circles in which I've travelled, we have nothing, NOTHING, to compare. Give up chocolate for Lent? That can't compare to fasting during Ramadan, where observant people eat and drink nothing, NOTHING, during the hours that the sun is up.

I had a friend once who was a Baha'i, and he observed a similar month of fasting. One year, the holy time occurred before daylight savings time started, and we barely noticed, since the sun went down so early. One year, it was well into spring, and I admired his discipline, as we all waited for the sun to go down so that we could eat together.

At our Faith and Wellness gathering on Saturday, one of our group told us about her experience with fasting. She, too, fasted for a month, eating just a meal of light grains and vegetables at the end of the day. She said it wasn't as hard as we might think. She said she's never felt closer to God.

When I was 21, I fasted one day a week in solidarity with the world's poor. I allowed myself one tiny meal a day. Ideally, it would have been a bowl of rice or porridge, the sustenance of much of the world. But I lived in a dorm, and I had to make do with what the cafeteria offered that day.

I'd like to get back to fasting on a regular basis. I fear I don't have the stamina. I fear failure. I hope I push through my fear to make the attempt.

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