Today is the first day of a month long cleanse of the mind, body, and soul for Muslims. Many people unfamiliar with Ramadan only know of the practice of fasting from food and drink from sunrise until sundown – particularly brutal since it falls in August this year! In truth, it is so much more than that. In fact, abstaining from eating and drinking is simple and direct compared to the other guidelines that must be followed this month:
1) Refraining from spreading gossip and lies.
2) Avoiding obscene places, or looking at unholy things.
3) Stopping yourself from thinking irreligious and unkind thoughts.
Control over your corporeal self is much more easily exercised than control over your spiritual self. The mind and heart are the most difficult muscles to master.
One of things that tickles me most is that Ramadan is a time when the entire spectrum of Muslims unite. I have seen facebook statuses from people that pray five times a day and eat strictly Zabiha, as well as from people that are more likely to spend their Fridays at the pool sharing Coronas with friends instead of at Jummah.
Wherever you may fall on this spectrum, while you are starving in 100 degree humidity, try to reassess your spiritual self this Ramadan. Young Desis are constantly pressured to advance ourselves in our careers and education, and it is easy to mark our progress by the number of degrees, and doctorates we accumulate. However, it is not as simple to do with our spiritual selves. It is impossible to mark goodness, because even the Muslimah who doesn’t miss a single day of fasting, and prays 5 times a day, has her own demons to battle. We all do. Whether it is a weakness for juicy gossip, a penchant for making fat jokes, or wanting to clock your little brother every time he comes into your room without knocking – we could all work on being more kind, more patient, and more empathetic towards the people around us.
Good luck and best wishes to everyone this Ramadan!